What Is a Fixed-Rate Mortgage?

Buying a house is one of life’s most exciting milestones — not to mention one of the biggest purchases. With the median U.S. home sale price sitting at $428,700 in mid-2022, most people acquire a fixed-rate or adjustable-rate mortgage to fund their new domicile.

But if you’re preparing to take the homeownership plunge, how do you know which kind of loan is right for you and what the most important features are?

This article can help. We’ll introduce you to the wide (and slightly wacky) world of mortgages. You’ll learn:

•   What’s the definition of a fixed-rate mortgage?

•   Pros and cons of fixed-rate mortgages.

•   When is a fixed-rate mortgage the right choice?

What Is a Fixed-Rate Mortgage?

A fixed-rate mortgage is, as its name suggests, a mortgage loan whose interest rate is fixed across the lifetime of the loan. The rate is stated at the time the documents are signed and does not change at any point throughout the loan term (provided that all payments are made in full and on time). Fixed-rate mortgage terms can be 10, 15, 20, or 30 years. A mortgage broker or online calculator can help you work through the different monthly payments for each and see what best suits your situation.

Fixed-Rate Mortgages vs Adjustable-Rate Mortgages

If you’re deciding between a fixed-rate vs. adjustable-rate mortgage (or ARM), the difference is that with ARM, the interest rate can move up or down according to the market. The rate is calculated according to the index and margin — the index is a benchmark interest rate based on market conditions at large, and the margin is a number set by the lender when the loan is applied for.

You may see options like a 5/1 ARM, which means the rate is set for the first five years of the loan and then adjusts annually after that.

Long story short: A fixed-rate mortgage offers you a predictable interest rate and monthly payment, whereas an adjustable-rate mortgage can shift over the course of the loan term according to external factors, like inflation affecting the APR.

It is, however, important to understand that your total monthly housing bill can still change, even with a fixed-rate mortgage, if, for example, your property taxes or homeowners insurance rates change or if you miss several payments.

Types of Fixed-Rate Mortgages

There are a few variables to fixed-rate mortgages.

•   Conventional Loans: Conventional fixed-rate mortgages are offered by banks, credit unions, and other lending institutions. They typically have stringent requirements about credit score and debt-to-income ratio (or DTI) that an applicant must meet.

•   Government-Insured Loans: FHA, USDA, VA: Government-insured loans, such as FHA, USDA, and VA mortgages (more on these below), tend to have less tough requirements and target certain kinds of homebuyers, like those with lower income, in the military (past or present), and living in rural areas. They may offer no or low down payment and other perks, too.

•   Conforming and Non-Conforming Loans: Mortgages can also be considered “conforming” or “nonconforming,” depending on whether or not they meet the guidelines established by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (commonly known as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac). In 2022, the conforming loan limit for one-unit properties was $647,200, or $970,800 in areas deemed “high cost.”

Of course, homes costlier than these limits exist, and it is possible to take out mortgage to buy one. Those loans are considered “nonconforming” and are also sometimes called “jumbo loans.”

Because the loans are so large, eligibility requirements tend to be more stringent, with borrowers usually needing a down payment well above 3%, cash in the bank, and a solid credit score.

Example of a Fixed-Rate Mortgage

Here’s an example of how a fixed-rate mortgage might work. If you buy a house for $428,700 with 20% down and take out a 30-year fixed-rate home loan. Your mortgage principal will be $342,960, and at a rate of 6.72% with a solid credit score of 740+, your monthly payment (not including any taxes or insurance) will be $2,217.

As you make your loan payments, at first most of the money goes towards interest. This is because the interest is “front-loaded,” to use the industry lingo. Perhaps 90% of your payment will be paying interest and 10% will be applied to the principal. As you get to the end of your loan payment, these figures may well be reversed. That is, 10% of the $2,217 goes towards interest and 90% towards the principal.

Pros and Cons of Fixed-Rate Mortgages

Fixed-rate mortgages are more common among homebuyers because of the predictability they offer. Still, there are both drawbacks and benefits to pursuing this kind of home loan.

Benefits of Fixed-Rate Mortgages

Because homebuyers who take out fixed-rate mortgages will know their rates at the time they sign on the dotted line, these loans provide long-term predictability and stability — which can help people who need to fit their housing expenses into a tight budget.

Fixed-interest mortgages, and other types of fixed-rate loans, shield borrowers from potentially high interest rates if the market fluctuates in such a way that the index significantly rises.

Drawbacks of Fixed-Rate Mortgages

Although fixed-rate mortgages are more predictable over time, they tend to have higher interest rates than ARMs — at least at first. Sometimes an ARM might have a lower interest rate but only for a relatively brief introductory period, after which the rate will be adjusted.

If the index rate falls in the future, homebuyers might end up paying more in interest than they would have with an ARM.

Because the principal balance is generally chipped away at more slowly with a fixed-interest rate mortgage than with an ARM, it can take longer for borrowers to build equity in their home.

Because lenders risk losing money on fixed-interest mortgages if index interest rates go up, these loans can be harder to qualify for than their adjustable-rate counterparts.

How to Calculate Fixed-Rate Mortgage Payments

Now that you know what a fixed-rate mortgage is and how it functions, you might wonder how much it could cost you. If you are curious about what fixed-rate mortgage payments would look like at different home price points, for varying terms, you can break out pencil and paper or your phone’s calculator function and do the math.

However, this gets fairly complicated because it’s not a matter of simple interest (and basic multiplication and division) when you try to replicate how banks come up with their numbers. You’ll need to get involved in calculating how the loan amortizes (gets paid down) over time.

Unless you’re a math major, your best option may be to use an online mortgage payment calculator. With a few simple pieces of data and clicks, you’ll get the numbers you need.

When Is a Fixed-Rate Mortgage the Right Choice?

Fixed-rate mortgages offer long-term predictability, which can be a must for those who need budget stability.

Furthermore, fixed interest rates can be beneficial for those who plan to stay in their home for a longer period of time — say, at least seven to 10 years.

Here’s why: Homebuyers are less likely to miss out on building home equity, as they might if they sold the house after making higher interest payments for a shorter period of time.

Finally, if homebuyers suspect that interest rates are about to rise, a fixed-interest loan can be a good way to protect themselves from those increasing rates over time.

That said, there are some instances in which an ARM may be a better choice. If a homebuyer is planning to sell in a short amount of time, for example, the low introductory interest rate on an adjustable-interest loan could save them money. You’ll have sold the property before the rate can tick upward.

💡 Recommended: Guide for First-Time Homebuyers

The Takeaway

When you’re in the market for a home, shopping for the right loan is almost as important as shopping for the house itself.

Although there are many mortgage lenders to choose from, including government-insured options, SoFi® offers competitive rates on conventional, fixed-rate mortgages with terms ranging from 10 to 30 years.

SoFi® offers mortgage loans with a down payment as low as 3% for qualifying first-time homebuyers, and a Mortgage Loan Officer can guide you through what can be a complicated process. Members can rest assured that questions they have will be answered by professionals who are just a phone call away.

Ready to learn your rate? Check out SoFi fixed-interest home loans today.


SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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How Much Can You Borrow From Your Home Equity?

Many homeowners are flush with equity, and tapping 85% or so of it can be tempting. You’re in the money! Your house, though, will be on the line.

Here are things to know before applying for a home equity loan, home equity line of credit (HELOC), or cash-out refinance.

What’s the Most You Can Borrow With a Home Equity Loan?

Many lenders will let you borrow 85% of your home equity — the home’s current value minus the mortgage balance — for any purpose.

Lenders will calculate the combined loan-to-value ratio: the amount you’d like to borrow plus your mortgage balance compared with the appraised value of your home.

Most lenders will require your combined loan-to-value ratio (CLTV) to be 85% or less for a home equity loan or HELOC (although some will allow you to borrow 100% of your home’s value).

combined loan balance ÷ appraised home value = CLTV

Let’s say you have a mortgage balance of $150,000 and you want to borrow $50,000 of home equity. Your home appraises for $300,000. The math would look like this:

$200,000 ÷ $300,000 = 0.666

Your CLTV is 67%.

An appraiser from the lending institution determines your property value.

Three Ways to Tap Home Equity

You paid off a chunk of your mortgage or all of it, or your home value soared along with the market, but now a wedding, college, remodel, or something else has you wanting to put that home equity to use. Here are three ways to do that.

Remember that converting home equity to cash means you’ll be using your home as collateral.

Home Equity Loan

Home equity loans come in a lump sum. They are often useful for big one-time expenses like a new car or swimming pool and for borrowers who know how much they need and who want fixed payments.

Some lenders waive or reduce closing costs of 2% to 5%, but if you pay off and close the loan within a certain period of time — often three years — you may have to repay some of those costs.

HELOC

A HELOC may be helpful for long-term needs such as home renovations, college tuition, or medical bills.

Borrowers who want flexibility when dealing with, say, a home addition may favor a revolving line of credit over a lump-sum loan.

Again, some lenders waive the closing costs for a HELOC if you keep it open for a predetermined period.

💡 Learn more: How Do Home Equity Lines of Credit Work?

Turn your home equity into cash with a HELOC from SoFi.

Access up to 95% or $500k of your home’s equity to finance almost anything.


Cash-Out Refinance

A cash-out refinance might be a good choice if you want to borrow more than you’d qualify for with a home equity loan or HELOC. A cash-out refi replaces your existing mortgage with a new mortgage for more than the previous balance. You receive the difference in cash.

Homeowners will often need to have 20% equity left in the home after refinancing. Some lenders will let them dip below that minimum but pay for private mortgage insurance on the new loan.

Some HELOC borrowers refinance before the draw period ends. In that case, the cash can be used to pay off the HELOC.

You can change the mortgage term and aim for a reduced interest rate with a cash-out refi. Closing costs will be required; it’s a new loan.

💡 Recommended: Cash-Out Refinance vs HELOC

What’s the Difference Between a Home Equity Loan and a HELOC?

A home equity loan, also known as a second mortgage, comes in a lump sum with a repayment term of 10 to 30 years. It typically has a fixed interest rate.

A HELOC is a revolving line of credit that lets a homeowner borrow money as needed, up to the approved credit limit. The credit line has two periods:

•   The draw period, when you can use the line of credit. It’s often 10 years. Minimum monthly payments usually will be interest only on the amount withdrawn.

•   The repayment period, often 20 years, when principal and interest payments are due.

Most HELOCs have a variable interest rate but cap how much the rate can rise at one time and over the loan term. (Some lenders, though, offer fixed-rate HELOCs or allow the borrower to fix the rate on a balance partway through the loan.)

Some HELOCs require you to draw a minimum amount upfront. Some have a balloon payment at the end of the draw period, when the loan principal and interest are due. Ensure that you understand your HELOC’s terms, and when the draw period ends and the credit line is closed.

How Is a HELOC Calculated?

Qualified borrowers are often able to access 80% or 85% of their equity with a HELOC.

Many HELOC lenders require that the homeowner retain at least 20% equity in the home, but a few are more generous.

Is Taking Out Home Equity Right for You?

If you’re aware of the risk, you’ve read all the fine print, and you forecast no job or income loss, tapping home equity can be extremely useful.

HELOCs usually have lower interest rates than home equity loans, but some people prefer the fixed rate and payments of the latter. HELOC rates tend to be a tad higher than mortgage rates, but you probably only have to pay interest on what you borrow during the draw period.

Most cash-out refinances result in a new 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.

Approval for a home equity product and the rate you’re offered will depend on your credit score, debt-to-income ratio, home equity, and home value.

Shopping around can yield the best offer.

💡 Recommended: Find out how much it would cost to renovate your home with SoFi’s Home Improvement Cost Calculator.

The Takeaway

How much equity can you borrow from your home? Homeowners who meet credit and income requirements are often able to tap 85% of equity and sometimes more with a home equity loan or HELOC. A cash-out refi is another way to make use of home equity.

SoFi offers a cash-out refinance as well as a flexible home equity line of credit. Access up to 95%, or $500,000, of your home’s equity with a SoFi HELOC.

FAQ

How can I increase my home equity?

Paying off your mortgage faster, refinancing to a shorter loan term, making home improvements, and shedding private mortgage insurance are some of the ways to boost home equity. In a competitive market, your home value may just naturally rise.

How quickly can I get cash from my home equity?

It depends on the product, but closing can take place in as little as two to four weeks.


SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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15-Year vs 30-Year Mortgage: Which Should You Choose?

15-Year vs 30-Year Mortgage: Which Should You Choose?

Deciding whether to pick a 15- or 30-year mortgage largely boils down to what kind of monthly payment you can afford and whether you need financial flexibility.

There’s a reason that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is most popular by far: Manageable payments that ideally allow room for other needs and wants.

But borrowers who can afford the higher payments of 15-year mortgages, and who like the lower rate, may find them compelling.

How Does a 15-Year Mortgage Work?

Borrowers who opt for a 15-year mortgage when choosing a mortgage term — and let’s just talk about fixed-rate, not variable-rate loans, which can be useful in certain situations but are more complicated — will pay off their loan faster and save significantly more in interest over the life of the loan. The main trade-off is the fact that your monthly payment will be significantly higher than a comparable 30-year home loan.

Fifteen-year mortgages typically carry lower interest rates than 30-year mortgages. Consequently, the combination of a lower rate and compressed payoff time means a much lower interest cost overall.

A 15-year mortgage loan for $300,000 with a rate of 4.6% would result in $115,860 in interest paid. That same loan amount with a 30-year term at 5.8% would translate to about $333,700 in interest, a difference of $217,840.

The basic monthly payment, however, would be $2,310 vs. $1,760 in this example. Use an online mortgage calculator to compare home loans.

Lenders charge lower rates for 15-year mortgages because it costs them less to underwrite 15-year mortgages than 30-year loans. Generally speaking, the longer term a loan, the riskier it is to lenders, which they price into the loan through a higher interest rate.

Here are the main pros and cons of 15-year mortgages.

Pros Cons

•   Interest cost savings

•   Faster loan payoff

•   Lower interest rate

•   Equity built at a faster rate

•   Much higher monthly payments

•   Less cash available for other opportunities

•   Smaller range of homes in the budget, thanks to high payments

When to Consider a 15-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage

You might want to consider a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage if you’re trying to pay off the loan faster, you want to save on total interest paid, want a lower rate, and can afford the higher monthly payments.

If you’re buying a home close to retirement and you’re interested in building generational wealth, a 15-year mortgage also is an attractive option as it ensures a faster payoff.

The 15-year mortgage is more frequently used for refinancing than buying, thanks to the lower rate and because most borrowers who choose to refinance are usually several years into their loan.

Consequently, borrowers who have longer-term mortgages with higher interest rates may want to consider refinancing to a 15-year home loan to save on interest costs. However, if you qualify as a first-time homebuyer or a typical U.S. family, expect a 15-year mortgage to restrict your budget.

First-time homebuyers can
prequalify for a SoFi mortgage loan,
with as little as 3% down.


30-Year Mortgage vs. 15-Year Mortgage

Borrowers will find the payments on 30-year mortgages to be much more affordable than on 15-year mortgages. The longer the repayment term, the lower the monthly payment, potentially leaving more cash in your pocket every month.

Increased cash flow may allow borrowers to pursue other opportunities like preparing for retirement.

And shoring up emergency savings. Paying off higher-interest debt is always a good plan.

Homeowners may want to have enough cash to add or expand a home office, rev up the kitchen, and generally maintain the value of their home.

What about vacations and buying stuff? Yes and yes.

And some buyers will want to set up a college fund.

Like most things, 30-year home loans have upsides and downsides to consider.

Pros Cons

•   Lower monthly payments

•   Extra monthly cash to dedicate to other opportunities

•   Making extra payments or refinancing will shorten term

•   Greater mortgage interest deduction if you itemize than a shorter-term loan allows

•   Higher interest expense than a 15-year loan

•   Builds equity at a slower rate

•   Longer time to pay off loan

When to Consider a 30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage

You may wish to consider a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage if you’re looking for the most affordable option when buying a home.

Fixed-rate 30-year home loans are the most straightforward and common type of mortgage loan on the market.

Between rising home prices and interest rates, 30-year home loans have started looking more attractive than other options. Despite the higher overall interest cost, the lower monthly payments on 30-year mortgages make it easier to afford a home.

Borrowers always have the option of paying off the mortgage early. Every extra principal payment reduces your overall loan balance and reduces the amount of interest that compounds over time as well.

The final thing to consider is that a 30-year mortgage provides a greater tax benefit than a shorter-term mortgage if you take the mortgage interest deduction. Some homeowners use this strategy when itemized deductions on a primary and second home total more than the standard deduction.

Should You Choose a 15-Year or 30-Year Mortgage?

For many homebuyers, the choice of 15- vs. 30-year mortgage will not be voluntary: The monthly payments will force the decision.

If you are able to choose one or the other, you’ll want to consider whether you’re able to comfortably commit to a series of high monthly mortgage payments in exchange for the earlier loan payoff and interest savings, or whether any money left over monthly after making the relatively low mortgage payment on a 30-year loan could be put to other uses.

Your income level, career stability, and debt-to-income ratio may largely determine your course.

The Takeaway

The decision on a 15- vs. 30-year mortgage depends on your personal budget and financial goals. If you can swing the shorter term, you’ll benefit from a lower interest rate, faster loan payoff, and substantial interest savings.

SoFi offers fixed-rate mortgages with a variety of terms and competitive rates. Check out all the advantages of SoFi Mortgages.

FAQ

Is a 30-year mortgage better than a 15-year mortgage?

It’s a matter of personal choice and affordability.

Is it better to pay off my mortgage for a long period?

You’ll pay a lot more in total interest than you would with a shorter-term loan, but payments will be more affordable.

Can I pay off my 30-year mortgage in 15 years?

Yes, assuming that your mortgage doesn’t have a prepayment penalty, there’s nothing stopping you from paying off the balance ahead of schedule.

Are the interest rates for a 30-year mortgage higher than a 15-year mortgage?

Yes, the interest rates for 30-year mortgages are typically higher than 15-year mortgages because of the extra risk of longer-term loans.


Photo credit: iStock/Tatomm
SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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What Is a Mortgage Lien? And How Does It Work?

What Is a Mortgage Lien? And How Does It Work?

A mortgage lien may sound scary, but any homeowner with a mortgage has one.

Then there are involuntary liens, which can be frightful. Think tax liens, mechanic’s liens, creditor and child support liens.

What Is a Mortgage Lien?

Mortgage liens are part of the agreement people make when they obtain a mortgage. Not all homebuyers can purchase a property in cash, so lenders give buyers cash upfront and let them pay off the loan in installments, with the mortgage secured by the property, or collateral.

If a buyer stops paying the mortgage, the lender can take the property. If making monthly mortgage payments becomes a challenge, homeowners would be smart to contact their loan servicer or lender immediately and look into mortgage forbearance.

Mortgage liens complicate a short sale.

They will show up on a title report and bar the way to a clear title.

Recommended: Tips When Shopping for a Mortgage

Types of Mortgage Liens

Generally, there are two mortgage lien types: voluntary and involuntary.

Voluntary

Homeowners or homebuyers agree to a voluntary, or consensual, lien when they sign a mortgage. If a homeowner defaults on the mortgage, the lender has the right to seize the property.

Voluntary liens include other loans:

•  Car loans

•  Home equity loans

•  Reverse mortgages

Voluntary liens aren’t considered a negative mark on a person’s finances. It’s only when they stop making payments that the lien could be an issue.

Involuntary

On the other side of the coin is the involuntary, or nonconsensual, lien. This mortgage lien type is placed on the property without the homeowner’s consent.

An involuntary lien could occur if homeowners are behind on taxes, HOA payments, or mortgage payments. They can lose their property if they don’t pay back the debt.

Property Liens to Avoid

Homeowners will want to avoid an involuntary lien, which may come from a state or local agency, the federal government, or even a contractor.

Any of the following liens can prohibit a homeowner from selling or refinancing property.

Judgment Liens

A judgment lien is an involuntary lien on both real and personal property and future assets that results from a court ruling involving child support, an auto accident, or a creditor.

If you’re in this unfortunate position, you’ll need to pay up, negotiate a partial payoff, or get the lien removed before you can sell the property.

Filing for bankruptcy could be a last resort.

Tax Liens

A tax lien is an involuntary lien filed for failure to pay property taxes or federal income taxes. Liens for unpaid real estate taxes usually attach only to the property on which the taxes were owed.

An IRS lien, though, attaches to all of your assets (real property, securities, and vehicles) and to assets acquired during the duration of the lien. If the taxpayer doesn’t pay off or resolve the lien, the government may seize the property and sell it to settle the balance.

HOA Liens

If a property owner in a homeowners association community is delinquent on dues or fees, the HOA can impose an HOA lien on the property. The lien may cover debts owed and late fees or interest.

In many cases, the HOA will report the lien to the county. With a lien attached to the property title, selling the home may not be possible. In some cases, the HOA can foreclose on a property if the lien has not been resolved, sell the home, and use the proceeds to satisfy the debt.

Mechanic’s Liens

If a homeowner refuses to pay a contractor for work or materials, the contractor can enforce a lien. Mechanic’s liens apply to everything from mechanics and builders to suppliers and subcontractors.

When a mechanic or other specialist files a lien on a property, it shows up on the title, making it hard to sell the property without resolving it.

Lien Priority

Lien priority refers to the order in which liens are addressed in the case of multiple lien types. Generally, lien priority follows chronological order, meaning the first lienholder has priority.

Lien priority primarily comes into play when a property is foreclosed or sold for cash. The priority dictates which parties get paid first from the home’s sale.

Say a homeowner has a mortgage lien on a property, and then a tax lien is filed. If the owner defaults on their home loan and the property goes into foreclosure, the mortgagee has priority as it was first to file.

Lien priority also explains why lenders may deny homeowners a refinance or home equity line of credit if they have multiple liens to their name. If the homeowner were to default on everything, a lender might be further down the repayment food chain, making the loan riskier.

First-time homebuyers can
prequalify for a SoFi mortgage loan,
with as little as 3% down.


How to Find Liens

Homeowners or interested homebuyers can find out if a property has a lien on it by using an online search. Liens are a public record, so interested parties can research any address.

For a DIY approach:

•  Search by address on the local county’s assessor or clerk’s site.

•  Use an online tool like PropertyShark.

Title companies can also search for a lien on a property for a fee.

If sellers have a lien on a property they’re selling, they’ll need to bring cash to the closing to cover the difference. If the seller doesn’t have enough money, the homebuyer is asked to cover the cost, or they can walk away from the deal.

How Can Liens Affect Your Mortgage?

An involuntary lien can affect homeowners’ ability to buy a new home, sell theirs, or refinance a mortgage. Lenders may deem the homeowner too big a risk for a refinance if they have multiple liens already.

Or, when homeowners go to sell their home, they’ll need to be able to satisfy the voluntary mortgage lien or liens at closing with the proceeds from the sale. If they sell the house for less than they purchased it for or have other liens that take priority, it may be hard to find a buyer willing to pay the difference.

Liens can also lead to foreclosure, which can impede a person’s chances of getting a mortgage for at least three to seven years.

How to Remove a Lien on a Property

There are several ways to remove a lien from a property, including:

•  Pay off the debt. The most straightforward approach is to pay an involuntary lien, or pay off your mortgage, which removes the voluntary lien.

•  Ask for the lien to be removed. In some cases, borrowers pay off their debt and still have a lien on their property. In that case, they should reach out to the creditor to formally be released from the lien and ask for a release-of-lien form for documentation.

•  Run out the statute of limitations. This approach varies by state, but in some cases, homeowners can wait up to a decade and the statute of limitations on the lien will expire. However, this doesn’t excuse the homeowner from their debt. It simply removes the lien from the home, making it easier to sell and settle the debt.

•  Negotiate the terms of the lien. If borrowers are willing to negotiate with their creditors, they may be able to lift the lien without paying the debt in full.

•  Go to court. If a homeowner thinks a lien was incorrectly placed on their property, they can file a court motion to have it removed.

Before taking any approach, you might consider reaching out to a legal professional or financial advisor to plan the next steps.

Recommended: Home Loan Help Center: Tips, Tools, and Education for Home Buyers

The Takeaway

Mortgage liens can be voluntary and involuntary. Many homeowners don’t realize that the terms of their mortgage include a voluntary lien. It’s involuntary liens they would be smart to avoid.

Mortgages can be complicated, but SoFi is here to make things simple. If you need a mortgage on a primary home or investment property, a jumbo loan, a refinance, or home equity loan, get pre-qualified painlessly with SoFi.

Explore the advantages of SoFi fixed rate mortgages and find your rate.

FAQ

What type of lien is a mortgage?

A mortgage lien is a voluntary lien because a homeowner agrees to its terms before signing the loan.

Will having a lien prevent me from getting a new loan?

Some liens can keep people from getting new loans. Lenders are unlikely to loan applicants money if they have multiple liens.

Is it bad to have a lien on my property?

A mortgage lien is voluntary and not considered bad for a borrower. But an involuntary lien prohibits owners from having full rights to their property, which can include selling the home.

How can I avoid involuntary liens?

Homeowners can avoid involuntary liens by staying up to date on payments, including property taxes, federal income taxes, HOA fees, and contractor bills.

Can an involuntary lien be removed?

Yes, an involuntary lien can be removed in several ways, including paying off the debt, filing bankruptcy, negotiating the debt owed, and challenging the lien in court.


Photo credit: iStock/adaask
SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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How to Pay Off a 30-Year Mortgage in 15 Years

How to Pay Off a 30-Year Mortgage in 15 Years: Tips and Tricks

Want to know how to pay off a 30-year mortgage in 15 years? A homeowner can use one of a few strategies to pay off a home loan early and save a boatload of interest.

Here’s what you need to know about how to pay a 30-year mortgage in 15 years and what to consider before you do.

Paying Off a 30 Year Mortgage Faster

When you start paying on a 30-year mortgage, most of your payment will go toward interest rather than the principal (the amount you borrowed). This makes it hard to pay down your mortgage and build equity.

Over time, the percentage of your payment that goes toward interest vs. principal will change. Toward the end of your 30-year loan, you will pay more toward the principal than interest. This is what’s known as mortgage amortization.

Instead of following the amortization schedule, paying more on your mortgage — in one way or another — will reduce the principal more quickly, which means you’ll pay less interest on your loan.

Should You Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster?

Paying off your mortgage faster may give you a sense of accomplishment and save you a lot of money in interest charges, but if it takes you further away from your financial goals, it may not be worth it to you. Consider what you value most before deciding to put extra money toward paying off your mortgage.

Recommended: Is is Smart to Pay Off a Mortgage Early?

Pros and Cons of Paying Off Your Mortgage Early

Paying off a 30-year mortgage in 15 years has benefits, but in some cases, it may not make sense to. Consider these pros and cons.

Pros

Cons

Higher monthly payment
Own your home outright sooner You will lose the home mortgage interest tax deduction (if you itemize)
Ultimately no mortgage payment
Build equity faster Less money available for retirement, higher-interest debt, a rainy day fund, etc.
Save money on interest Gains by investing could trump interest saved

Factors to Consider Before Paying Off Your Mortgage Faster

While paying off your mortgage early — a few zealous borrowers aim to pay off a mortgage in five years — can save you tens of thousands of dollars in interest, the lost opportunities from not having money readily available for other things could be more valuable. Think about:

•   Have I been contributing enough to my retirement plans as an employee?

•   Have I been funding retirement as a self-employed person?

•   Do I have three to six months of expenses, or more, if my personal situation calls for it, in an emergency fund?

•   Am I able to secure a lower rate or shorter term for a refinance to pay off my mortgage faster? Would a cash-out refinance make sense?

•   Do I have higher-interest debt like credit card debt or student loans I should tackle first?

•   Have I set up a college fund for the kids?

•   Does my mortgage carry a prepayment penalty (unlikely for loans originated after January 2014)?

How to Pay Off a 30-Year Mortgage Faster

There are at least three methods to pay off a 30-year mortgage in 15 years if that’s your goal.

Make Extra Principal Payments

Paying more toward principal is the primary way to pay off a 30-year mortgage early.

Here’s an example of how interest adds up: Assuming you buy a $350,000 house and put 10% down on a 30-year mortgage at 5.5%, this mortgage calculator shows that total interest will be $328,870. Even by the 120th payment, you will have paid only $55,000 of the $315,000 principal and will have paid nearly $160,000 in interest.

Putting just $200 more per month toward principal, you’d save $80,837 in interest and pay off the mortgage six years and four months earlier.

Switch to Biweekly Payments

Biweekly payments are half-payments made every two weeks instead of a full payment once a month. Making biweekly payments instead of monthly payments results in one additional payment each year.

Using the example above, making one full, extra mortgage payment each year will reduce the amount of time it takes to pay off your 30-year mortgage by five years.

Look Into Refinancing

Refinancing your loan into one with a lower interest rate and/or a shorter term can help you pay off your mortgage faster. A shorter term usually comes with a lower interest rate, so you’re saving on interest while also paying your mortgage off sooner than 30 years.

Refinancing to a lower interest rate will reduce your monthly mortgage payment, so if you continue to make the higher payment, you’ll pay your mortgage off faster.

Recommended: Mortgage Questions for Your Lender

The Takeaway

There are a few ways to pay off a 30-year mortgage in 15 years. Paying off your mortgage early will result in substantial interest savings, but the tradeoff for many borrowers is not having extra money to put toward retirement and other purposes.

Whether you’re on the path to paying off your mortgage or shopping for a new mortgage, SoFi is here to help. SoFi offers traditional refinancing and cash-out refinancing. SoFi Mortgages come with competitive rates, flexible terms, and Mortgage Loan Officers who can help.

Take a look at SoFi home mortgage loans, and then get your own rate quote.

FAQ

Is it cheaper to pay off a 30-year mortgage in 15 years?

The amount of interest you’ll save by paying off your mortgage in 15 years instead of 30 is substantial.

Why shouldn’t you pay off your mortgage early?

Homeowners who haven’t fully funded their retirement accounts, who don’t have an emergency fund, or who have other debt with high interest rates may not want to pay off a mortgage early. Also, those who think they can earn a better return on their money with investments may not want to pay off their mortgage early. (They need to keep in mind that past performance is not necessarily indicative of future returns.)

How do you pay off a 30-year mortgage in half the time?

Paying more toward the principal early in the mortgage can help you cut the amount of time you spend paying on your mortgage in half. The good news is you don’t have to make double payments to cut the amount of time you pay on your mortgage in half. Because each payment will reduce the principal, you will pay less overall.

Are biweekly mortgage payments a good idea?

Biweekly mortgage payments, or half-payments made every two weeks, will add a full mortgage payment every year. Using this method can take a few years off your mortgage.


Photo credit: iStock/everydayplus

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Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

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