What Is a Mortgage?
A mortgage is a loan that you use to buy a home. Unlike most loans, which are unsecured, mortgages are secured by the home itself, meaning that the lender has a right to repossess and sell the property if you fail to pay your debts as agreed in the loan agreement. Mortgages can have a term of up to 30 years and are usually repaid through monthly payments, which consist of principal, interest and property taxes and insurance, collectively known as PITI.
When you apply for a mortgage, lenders carefully review your income, debts, credit history and assets to ensure that you can afford to make the monthly mortgage payments. This is done to protect their investment and prevent the loss of a home should you fail to meet your obligations as a homeowner. The most significant consideration for mortgage lenders is your credit score, which plays a key role in both determining whether you will be approved for the mortgage and the interest rate that you are offered.
In addition to evaluating your financial profile, mortgage lenders also look at the size of the down payment that you plan to make on the home purchase. The larger the down payment, the less risky the mortgage is to the lender and typically results in a lower interest rate.
You can obtain a mortgage from a bank or a private lender. When applying for a mortgage, you will need to provide documents such as bank statements, pay stubs and tax forms to prove your financial stability and that you can afford the mortgage payment. During the application process, your lender will run a credit check and may ask you to provide additional documentation as needed.
After reviewing your application, mortgage lenders will provide you with a list of rates and fees that they can offer. You should compare these rates and fees to find the best deal.
You also can work with a mortgage broker, who can help you find the best mortgage by having access to several lenders. However, you should remember that mortgage brokers are generally paid a fee for their services, which can be payable at closing or added to your loan’s interest rate.
There are several types of mortgages available for homeowners, including fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages. Fixed-rate mortgages have a set interest rate for the entire term of the loan, which is typically 20 or 30 years. Adjustable-rate mortgages allow the borrower to have a higher initial interest rate and later switch to a lower interest rate. Both types of mortgages have advantages and disadvantages. In the case of fixed-rate mortgages, you will need to commit to a long-term loan and have some confidence in the stability of the housing market over the course of the loan’s term. In the case of adjustable-rate mortgages, you may be exposed to increased volatility in the housing market. This can increase the risk of foreclosure in a declining market.