How do you know which loan term is best for you? Some fixed-rate mortgages last for 15 years, while some last twice that long. Here's what you need to know about 15- and 30-year fixed mortgages.

15-Year Mortgage Basics

With a 15-year mortgage, the interest rate and mortgage payments remain the same for 15 years. Each month you'll make the same payment, and at the end of the term, you'll have paid the loan in full.

One of the advantages of this type of mortgage is that 15-year mortgage rates are typically the lowest. Because the loan term is so much shorter, however, each monthly payment is much higher than the payment for a 30-year fixed mortgage. When you consider this type of loan, it's best to consult with experienced mortgage lenders to determine how large of a mortgage you can fit into your budget.

Perhaps the biggest risk with this kind of mortgage is that you might struggle to make payments on time if your financial situation changes. If this is a concern, be sure you have a financial cushion to fall back on.

30-Year Mortgage Basics
Similar to a 15-year mortgage, a 30-year mortgage offers fixed payments and rates for a set period of time. Since the term is so much longer, 30-year fixed mortgage rates tend to be higher. The trade-off is that monthly payments are lower for 30-year mortgages   you just end up making twice as many of them.

One of the biggest advantages of 30-year mortgages is that they offer stable terms and consistent payments over a very long period of time. You might not save the most with 30-year mortgage rates, but you'll be able to anticipate your monthly housing costs and work them into your budget easily for years to come.

How to Choose a Mortgage Term
Both 15- and 30-year mortgages are fixed-term options, meaning they are risk-averse. No matter which term you choose, the rates and payments won't change unless you refinance your mortgage at some point.

In order to choose the best mortgage term for you, consider both short-term and long-term goals. A 15-year mortgage allows you to build equity quickly, which makes it the better short-term option. If you're a high earner and expect to maintain similar earning patterns for the foreseeable future, the high payments and low-interest fixed mortgage rates should win you over.

If you can't afford high payments now but want to purchase a relatively costly home, a 30-year fixed mortgage is a smarter option. In addition, if you're relatively young and anticipate that you'll continue to make payments on your home 30 years in the future, a 30-year mortgage might be the right move for you.

To understand all of your options, turn to professional mortgage lenders. With years of experience and a complete understanding of the market, these professionals can help you make an informed decision regarding your mortgage.

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