Though home prices and mortgage rates are both unusually low
right now, many borrowers are also short of money. So the 40-year
mortgage may be an attractive option for them.
Although they're fairly uncommon, compared to more conventional
loans like 30- and 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, 40-year home loans
are offered by most major lenders. They're also a popular option in
loan modifications, when the term of a loan needs to be extended as
long as possible to minimize a homeowner's monthly payments.
Lower payments vs. more interest
Minimizing your monthly payments, of course, is the key feature
of a 40-year mortgage. As the longest term available on a home
loan, it allows you to stretch out your payments and reduce what
you pay in principal each month, so you're getting the smallest
possible monthly payment.
The downside is that you end up paying a lot more in interest
over the life of the loan, which is why many financial advisors
tend to recommend against 40-year mortgages. But for some
borrowers, they can be a sensible choice.
How much lower?
The first question is, how much can you save? Perhaps not as
much as you think. On a $200,000 mortgage, your monthly payments
with a 40-year fixed-rate mortgage may be about $90 a month lower
than a comparable 30-year loan, depending on the interest rate you
Part of that is because you're likely to pay a higher interest
rate on a 40-year mortgage than you will on a 30-year loan.
Typically, the interest rate on a 40-year fixed-rate mortgage will
run about a quarter of a percentage point higher than a comparable
30-year loan. So if the current 30-year rate is 3.75 percent,
you'll pay about 4.0 percent for a 40-year mortgage.
Using those numbers, the monthly payment on a $200,000 mortgage
would be $926 with a 30-year loan, and $836 with the 40-year
mortgage. Of course, escrows for taxes, homeowner's insurance and
perhaps private mortgage insurance (PMI) would add a few hundred
dollars to this.
Interest payments add up
Stretching out those payments for an extra 10 years means you'll
really get hit with the interest payments, though. In the examples
above, you'd end up paying $133,000 in total interest over the
lifetime of the 30-year mortgage, versus $201,000 over the life of
the 40-year mortgage - more than the principal of the loan
You also build equity much more slowly with a 40-year mortgage
than a 30-year loan. Again, using the examples above, you'd have
half the principal on the 30-year loan paid off after 19 years.
With the 40-year loan, it would take about 27 years.
Tax rules reduce interest costs
So why consider a 40-year mortgage? Well, for one thing,
mortgage interest is tax-deductable for most homeowners, so the
actual cost in interest isn't as great as the figures would
suggest. Deducting mortgage interest is also puts many homeowners
over the threshold of being able to itemize other deductions as
well, instead of taking the standard deduction.
A 40-year mortgage also provides budget flexibility. Just
because your mortgage has a 40-year term doesn't mean you have to
take 40 years to pay it off. If you take out a 40-year mortgage but
make the same payments that a 30-year loan would require, you can
pay your mortgage off on a 30-year schedule and with 30-year
interest costs, while preserving the ability to make smaller
payments occasionally if needed.
Option for short-term homeowners
A 40-year mortgage can also be a sensible option if you're not
planning to stay in the home for a long time and aren't concerned
about building up equity. You're minimizing your payments, while at
the same time you can profit from any gains in home value that may
occur while you own the home.
You'll be somewhat more exposed to possible declines in home
value, since you won't be building equity as quickly, but if you're
not planning to stay in the home more than seven years, the
difference between a 30- and 40-year mortgage won't be that
As a "starter" loan
Finally, a 40-year mortgage doesn't mean you have to stick with
it for 40 years. Most mortgages are refinanced at least once before
the home is paid off, so a 40-year loan can enable you to minimize
your payments for a few years before refinancing into a shorter
term when your financial situation improves - such as when you
become more established in a career.
However, given the unusually low rates available today,
refinancing may not be as attractive a few years down the road if
rates return to historic norms. Also, refinancing may be difficult
if home values drop again, as they did a few years ago.
First published on MortgageLoan.com at: