Should I get a 15 year mortgage or 30 year mortgage on a house we’ll stay in 3-5 yrs?

Sorry this is a bit long. Novice homebuyer here…We just put an offer in on a house at below estimated value. It was accepted today. We qualified for an FHA loan. We have closing costs covered and the seller is contributing to the closing costs. We are not using a realtor-it’s a private sale with a real estate attorney/title company.

My question is do we do a 15 year Loan of $295k at 3.75% or a 30 year loan at 4.5%. Our plan is not to stay in this house forever. Minimum 2 years probably maximum 5 years. Just looking out 26-28 months I did some amortization numbers ( not a math person so this could be wrong!)

The amount of the loan balance in June 2020 with a 30 yr loan is $287,921 with a payment of 2151 a month. With a 15 year it is $262,295 with a $2791 payment per month (+$640/month or $16k for the timeframe noted) That a difference of $25,626 in equality over the next 27-28 months.

The house needs some updates. We’re not rolling in discretionary income but can do the $2791 payment but it would make us feel cash/house poor. We have $100K in savings, but don’t want to touch that. But perhaps the equity we’re building outweighs the inability to make those potential updates? (Or do much else fun) Or no?

Considering we know we got the house for pretty much below market and appraisal value ($335K range), even if the value drops are we better served getting the 30 year at a slightly higher rate and using the $650 difference for house updates that should make it more marketable? Or do we do the 15 year, be a bit house poor, not make as many updates and build equity in a house we may not be in more than 2-3 years or so?

We’ve been renting and renting is not an option. I understand lots of different costs are associated in moving after only a few years etc. I just want to know which mortgage is the most bang for our buck in our situation?

3 thoughts on “Should I get a 15 year mortgage or 30 year mortgage on a house we’ll stay in 3-5 yrs?

  1. TTT

    I would lean towards the 15 year since it sounds like you can barely swing it. The main reason I say this is because you have over $100K in savings to handle any problem months that could crop up. I’d probably take that even further and say even if you can’t quite afford the 15 year payment I’d still do it and have a slight deficit each month because of the extra interest savings you’ll get. Or, perhaps you could dig into your savings to put just enough extra down to drop the monthly amount low enough so you can afford it. When you sell in a few years you’ll get that money back anyway, and it’s always best to try to avoid paying interest on a loan when you have cash sitting in the bank that could cover it (once your emergency fund is in place).

    To put this in perspective, on the 30 yr mortgage you will pay $13,178 in interest in the first year, vs $10,808 in interest with the 15 yr mortgage. That’s a savings of $2,370 in the first year alone. It would be unfortunate to pay over $2K per year in interest when you have the cash to avoid it.

  2. Jay

    Whether you should get a 15 or 30 year mortgage has little to do with how long you plan to live in the house. The real question is, Can you afford the higher monthly payments for the 15 year mortgage?

    The total cost, principle plus interest, for a 15 year mortgage is substantially less than the total cost for a 30 year mortgage with the same interest rate. You are only paying interest for 15 years instead of 30 years, and you are paying down the principle faster. On top of that, you usually can get a lower rate for a 15 year mortgage. (As apparently you are able to do here.)

    But a 15 year mortgage has higher monthly payments. If there was zero interest, than to pay off the loan in 15 years instead of 30 each payment would have to be twice as much. Interest and amortization makes the formula more complicated in the real case, but each payment on a 15 year mortgage is going to be substantially more than the 30 year.

    So in this case, you have a choice of 3.75% for 15 years which I calculate to $2145 per month, or 4.5% for 30 years which comes to $1495 per month. (Principle plus interest. You’ll have taxes and insurance on top of that, I don’t know the numbers for your case.) So if you stayed in the house until you paid off the mortgage, the 15 year loan would cost a total of 15 x 12 x $2145 = $386,100 while the 30 year loan would cost 30 x 12 x $1495 = $538,200.

    So if you can afford the higher monthly payment, it’s tougher in the short run, but in the long run you’ll came out way ahead. If you can’t afford the higher monthly payment, than discussion of the long run advantages is irrelevant because you just can’t do it. You’d be yet better off to just pay the whole thing in cash at closing and never pay any interest, but most people can’t do that so it’s a moot point.

    The only real difference that the amount of time you will live in the house makes is if the bank offers you a lower rate in exchange for paying points. If by making a larger up-front payment you can get a lower rate, then if you stay in the house a long time this is more likely to pay off.

  3. Hart CO

    Depending on your savings and monthly income levels, walking away from this purchase could be the most prudent option. Do you have enough savings after the down-payment to cover an expensive repair on day 1? Enough to keep up on payments for a few months in the face of job-loss? Not enough information to recommend not buying, just things to consider in case you might be over-extending.

    Barring that option and focusing just on the 15 vs 30 year mortgage, I suggest a 30 year loan. Over 29 months you’d have an extra $25k in equity with the 15-year, but you’d have made almost $19k more in payments. So while that extra $6k would be great, it sounds like you need that $650/month more since you don’t have much cushion. The longer you stay, the more lucrative the interest savings from a 15-year loan become, but if the higher payment stretches your monthly too thin it introduces risks that could easily negate the savings.

    The above numbers are calculated with just a simple amortization schedule, but with an FHA loan there is additional overhead. You’ll pay an up-front mortgage insurance premium of 1.75% (typically added to your loan) as well as an annual premium (currently 0.45-.85% of 12-month average loan balance depending on down-payment and loan term). If there’s any way you can get a conventional loan (they go as low as 5% down) you would still have mortage insurance, but you can typically get it removed when you hit 20% equity, while with an FHA loan you could be saddled with insurance for the life of the loan. This is why a lot of people target a 20% down-payment.

    There will also be property tax, insurance, and potentially expensive repairs on day 1, but those don’t vary based on loan options.

    Edit: Comments paint a very different picture than I got from the question originally, but ultimately you just need to decide if you’d rather have interest savings or extra liquidity. If you’re comfortable with your current level of liquidity then any extra you throw at the down-payment up front or extra monthly on a shorter loan term will save you interest, whether or not you could do something better with your money is also for you to decide. With $100k in savings, a 15-year seems the better option.

    Those conventional rates/PMI sound pretty ugly, I haven’t shopped with low credit so might just be out of touch there, closing costs shouldn’t be that different, the big thing is the extra 1.75% ($5,162) mortgage insurance up front with FHA that you don’t get back (you can get a prorated amount of it applied if you sell and take out another FHA loan), over the life of a loan you could make up for it, but in 2-3 years that extra overhead is very significant.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *