Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Fix Your Mortgage - Set Mortgage Payments Reduce Stress

There's no doubt that for most of us, a home is the biggest purchase we'll ever make. If it wasn't for mortgages, there's no way most of us would ever be able to afford a home.

Despite that, the mortgage can be an enormous source of stress and aggravation. Disputes over money are one of the most common causes of marital breakdown. If you've chosen an adjustable (variable) rate mortgage, an increase in interest rates can make your repayments quickly rise to a level where you just can't afford it any longer.

In that situation, not only do you have to deal with the stress of trying to make the mortgage repayment each month, you also have the fear of losing your family home mixed in. For some people they live with that possibility on a day-to-day basis. No wonder marriages suffer as a result.

If you're worried that a few interest rate rises will make it impossible for you to make your repayments, then maybe it's worth considering a fixed rate home loan. With a fixed rate loan, you are locked in with a set interest rate for either a set period (say 5 years) or the entire period of the loan. This can give you great peace of mind, because although your repayments may start off a little higher, you have the certainty of always knowing what the repayment will be, and can budget accordingly.

Fixed rates can work in a couple of different ways. One is to set the loan as a fixed rate loan for the entire period of the loan. The only problem with this is that you may have a loan that last 25 years, but you need to sell up and move elsewhere either for work or lifestyle long before the 25 year period is over. Many fixed rate loans have quite hefty break costs, which may make the process of moving a lot more stressful than it needs to be.

Another option is to fix the rate for a set period, say 5 years. This works well for a lot of people, as the average time in a house is 5-7 years. So it's possible that in 5 years time you'll be getting close to moving anyway. It's also quite often the case that after 5 years, mum may have returned to work after having a couple of children, improving your financial situation to the point where you may want to investigate other loan options.

A further option is to take an interest only loan, with a fixed rate of interest, with a balloon payment. This can reduce your monthly payments enormously, which can be very helpful in a time of transition, such as the early years of starting a family. The disadvantage is that you pay little or nothing off the loan in that time. Also, if you want to remain in your home at the end of the interest only period, you will need to organise another loan to continue on.

There's no doubt that having a fixed mortgage payment each month can make life much easier. You can budget for all the usual household bills, confident that your mortgage payment won't change. Yes, it's quite possible that over the term of the loan you may well end up paying more than if you'd chosen an adjustable rate mortgage, but sometimes money isn't the only thing that's worth something - peace of mind and a reduction in stress is definitely worth something too.

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