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Mortgage Basics for First Time Home Buyers

Anyone planning to take out a mortgage for the first time will most likely find the job a little daunting, not least because the financial jargon can often be very difficult to make sense of. As with any major financial decision, it is essential to fully understand every aspect of a mortgage plan before making a commitment. It's also vital to simply do the math, to calculate exactly how much each type of mortgage will cost for the overall life of the loan, how long it will take to repay, and what the monthly repayments will be. Buyers would be wise to make the financial calculations before choosing a home, to get a clear picture of exactly how much home they can really afford to buy. More information is available at

One of the most important decisions to make is choosing the term of the mortgage. Most fixed term mortgage plans work on either a 15 or a 30 year period. Generally speaking, a 15 year plan means the monthly repayments will be higher, but less interest is paid over the long term, so often the mortgage will work out cheaper over the life of the loan. A 30 year plan will normally mean more interest in the long term, but the monthly repayments will be lower, which may mean the borrower can afford to buy a more expensive home.

Another important choice to make is between a fixed and an adjustable rate mortgage. The terminology is as simple as it sounds, although making the choice between the two types of plan may be a lot more complex. Fixed rate mortgage means the interest rate is set at the time the loan is made, and remains the same throughout the life of the loan. With an adjustable rate mortgage, the interest rate is set for the first few years, then after that, it is determined by various external economic factors which are outside the control of the lender and the borrower. Usually there will be some kind of cap to protect borrowers from excessive interest rate rises. A fixed rate plan is the less risky option, but an adjustable rate plan generally offers lower rates initially, and should interest rates fall in future, borrowers can take advantage the lower rates immediately, without having to refinance.

David Cannell is a freelance writer and university educator. He is also the owner of


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