Investment Property Math: 30-yr vs. 15-yr Mortgage

Here are three things to consider when choosing between a 30-year fixed rate mortgage and a 15-year fixed rate mortgage on an investment property:

1 – Cash-Flow Considerations
A 30-year mortgage carries a lower monthly payment and therefore is more likely to result in positive monthly cash flow.  The less money you pay out each month, the more likely you are to achieve and maintain positive monthly cash flow. Positive cash-flow reduces your risk of default in case the tenant stops making their rent payments or in case the property goes vacant for a while.  For this reason, a 30-yr mortgage is generally less risky for investors vs. a 15-yr mortgage.

2 – Rate of Return Considerations
A 15-yr mortgage saves you money because you pay less interest over time.  However, is your goal to save money or make money?  If your goal is to make money and improve your rate of return on investment, a 30-yr mortgage may be a better option for you. Although you’d need to run the numbers in each case to determine which option would produce a higher rate of return, you’ll typically find in favor of a 30-yr mortgage.  That’s due to the impact of positive leverage on your investment returns.

3 – Investment Objectives
Investing in real estate is not always purely a numbers game.  For example, some investors would be happy earning less of an investment return, and experiencing less financial liquidity with a 15-yr mortgage because they value the tangible nature of owning real estate property free and clear. A 15-yr mortgage pays off in half the time, and it would result in higher cash flow and less cash-flow risk in the future when the loan is paid off (assuming you still own the property at that time).

As you can see, there’s no “one-size-fits-all” strategy when it comes to investing in real estate.  Contact me for more info or to explore your options!

Rent vs. Buy: Either Way You’re Paying A Mortgage


Rent vs. Buy: Either Way You're Paying A Mortgage | Keeping Current Matters There are some people that have not purchased a home because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that, unless you are living with your parents rent free, you are paying a mortgage – either your mortgage or your landlord’s. As The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University explains:

“Households must consume housing whether they own or rent. Not even accounting for more favorable tax treatment of owning, homeowners pay debt service to pay down their own principal while households that rent pay down the principal of a landlord plus a rate of return.   That’s yet another reason owning often does—as Americans intuit—end up making more financial sense than renting.”

Christina Boyle, a Senior Vice President, Head of Single-Family Sales & Relationship Management at Freddie Mac, explains another benefit of securing a mortgage vs. paying rent:

“With a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, you’ll have the certainty & stability of knowing what your mortgage payment will be for the next 30 years – unlike rents which will continue to rise over the next three decades.”

As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ that allows you to have equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee your landlord is the person with that equity. The graph below shows the widening gap in net worth between a homeowner and a renter: Increasing Gap in Family Wealth | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

Whether you are looking for a primary residence for the first time or are considering a vacation home on the shore, owning might make more sense than renting with home values and interest rates projected to climb.