How often do we think about what will happen if we get sick, hurt, disabled, or lose our job?
These are just some of the factors that we need to consider when investing in real estate. Buying a house is an exciting but stressful time. With so many options out there, how do you know which one is right for you? In this week’s video, we dive in to explore the pros and cons of a 15-year mortgage vs. a 30-year mortgage. We also explain the difference between a bank’s equity and your own, and other factors to consider. Remember, if you need approval to access your equity, is it really yours?
“It’s important to choose the option that gives you the most liquidity, use, and control of your money.”
Which is better a 15- or 30-year mortgage? When shopping for a mortgage, it can be so confusing because there are so many options. Buying a home is one of the largest purchases you’re going to make, and many people get hung up on interest rates. Well, interest rates are important. It’s not the only factor you should consider when choosing the right mortgage for you.
One thing to consider that’s often overlooked is inflation. When you buy a house today, you get a mortgage, the dollars have more purchasing power today than the dollars that you’re going to use to repay the bank. So the longer you can take to pay back the bank, the less purchasing power the dollars are going to have at the time of repayment.
Let me give you an example. When I was younger, my parents would send me down to the bank to pay the mortgage. The mortgage was $52.80 and at the same time, they would send me over to the local hardware store to pay the utility bills. Our electric bill at the time was about $45 or $50 and I remember asking my parents, “how much was the electric bill was when we bought the house? ” And they said it was about $4 or $5 per month.
Think about what happened over 15 years. The electric bill increased by about five times, but the mortgage stayed the same. So my parents were negatively affected by inflation on the electric bill, but they were positively affected on the mortgage because the mortgage stayed the same and they were paying that mortgage back with dollars that had less and less value over time.
Conventional wisdom tells us debt is bad, so Americans want to get their house paid off as soon as possible. You think you’re making your position safer, but the fact of the matter is you’re actually making the bank’s position stronger. Let me give you an example. If you have a $250,000 house with a $200,000 mortgage balance, if the bank had to foreclose, it might be difficult for them to break even if they had to sell that house. But if you have a $250,000 house with a $125,000 mortgage balance, it’d be very easy for the bank to break even if they had to foreclose.
Don’t get us wrong, both you and the bank are building equity, but the nature of those equities are quite different. The bank has full liquidity use and control of their equity. Whereas you would need to qualify to access the equity in your real estate. The bank’s equity is cash and your equity is real estate equity, which requires bank approval in order for you to access your equity. So, basically if you need approval to access your equity, is it really yours? The next thing to consider when choosing a mortgage is control. Think about it. If your goal is to regain control of your money, then you should not be giving up your discretionary income to the bank. That’s money that you could be using for your lifestyle or savings.
You’re taking money that you have complete liquidity, use and control over and giving it to the bank and now they own and control that money. Which brings us to our third point. What happens if you become sick, hurt, disabled, or lose your job? You may have a lot of money in real estate equity, but now you have to apply to the bank in order to access that money and make no mistake. Banks are not loaning you money because you have equity in your real estate. They’re loaning you money on the premise that you’re going to be able to repay them. Anytime you want to tap into your real estate equity, you need to go to the bank, apply and prove that you could repay the bank.
It doesn’t matter if you had a great payment history on your previous mortgages. They don’t care if you actually paid extra on your previous mortgages. They have to consider whether or not you can pay back this new wealth. Let me give you an example. We have clients who had a $175,000 house with a $50,000 mortgage balance. The husband got sick and couldn’t work. They figured they could tap into their equity when they applied to do a refinance, even though the monthly payment was going to be lower, the bank declined them because they couldn’t prove that they could pay back the new loan.
So, all along the way, while this family was building their home equity, making their mortgage payments, they believed that they were making their financial position stronger and safer. But at the end of the day, it ended up hindering them. If you need to get approval from somebody else to get your money, is it really your money?
The fourth thing to consider when choosing a mortgage is what happens if the economic climate changes. For example, interest rates can go up or down. If interest rates go down and you’re locked in for 30 years, you could always refinance if it makes sense for you. But what happens if interest rates rise? Well, this happened actually in the early 1980s people who had money outside of real estate equity were able to take advantage of interest rates on CDs and money market accounts that were 15% or 16%. If you have money tied up in real estate equity and the CD rates go to 15% or 16% you can’t tap into your equity because the bank is going to charge you more than the 15% or 16% if you’re borrowing.
It’s really going to put you in a situation where you can’t take advantage of opportunities if those opportunities arise. This brings us to our fifth point when choosing a mortgage tax deduction. Not everyone will qualify for the mortgage interest deduction, but if you do, do you want all of it, none of it or some of it.
Most people want as much as they can get. With the 15-year mortgage, there’s less opportunity for tax deductions.
In conclusion, we’ve been trained to shop for mortgages using one criterion only, interest rates. While interest rates are an important factor, they’re not the only factor you should consider when choosing a mortgage. Let’s face it, if the banks made the same amount on all the mortgages, there would only be one option. It’s important to choose the option that gives you the most liquidity, use, and control of your money. Again, if the point is to regain control of your money, does it make sense to give that money to the bank and then still have to get approval to access your money?