What Is Mortgage Amortization?

By Janet Siroto · July 05, 2023 · 6 minute read

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What Is Mortgage Amortization?

If you’re looking into getting a mortgage for the first time, congratulations! You’re about to embark on a brave new adventure, full of highs and lows with (hopefully) a wonderful reward, aka your new home, at the finish line.

But before you get there, you’ll need to navigate some challenges. For instance: the somewhat intimidating home-buying terminology: prequalification vs. preapproval, for instance. And what on earth is escrow? And what does amortized mean?

Here, you’ll learn the answer to that last question, quickly and painlessly. Basically, mortgage amortization means that your mortgage loan payments will be spaced out over a period of time (typically 30 years) and will be calculated so that you always pay the same amount per month (if you have a fixed-rate mortgage, not a variable rate mortgage, that is).

That means that if you get a fixed-rate mortgage and your first payment in your first month is $1,500, you know that you’ll pay $1,500 in the last month of your mortgage, years later. If you take out a variable rate mortgage, the amount you pay each month will change periodically as the market rate fluctuates.

Also, as you pay your mortgage at first, most of the money paid goes toward interest and a little to the principal, but that shifts over time to the opposite scenario.

Learn more about mortgage amortization here.

Why Do People Choose Amortized Mortgages?

Mortgage amortization helps ensure that your obligations are predictable, which can make it easier for you to plan. If you take out a 30-year mortgage, then the amortization helps guarantee that in 30 years, you will have finished paying it off. For a fixed-rate mortgage, amortization also keeps all your payments consistently the same amount, rather than different amounts that depend on how much your principal is.

Recommended: The Different Kinds of Mortgages

How to Calculate Amortization Using Tables

In real life, even if you choose an amortized mortgage, you may never need to figure out your 30 years or so of payments yourself. But it’s useful to see what goes into the table or payments (they’re not arbitrary!) and understand how it’s populated. Calculating your amortized mortgage really puts you on the front lines of homebuying.

Let’s say you take out a $100,000 mortgage over 10 years at a 5% fixed interest rate. That means your monthly payment will be $1,061. You can then divide your interest rate by 12 equal monthly payments. That works out to 0.4166% of interest per month. And that, in turn, means that in the first month of your loan, you’ll pay around $417 toward interest and the remaining $644 toward your principal.

Next, to calculate the second month, you’ll need to deduct your monthly payment from the starting balance to get the ‘balance after payment’ for the chart. You’ll also need to put the $417 you paid in interest and $644 you paid toward the principal in the chart. Then you can repeat the calculation of your monthly interest and principal breakdown, and continue inputting until you finish completing the chart.

Date Starting Balance Interest Principal Balance after payment
Jan, 2023 $100,000 $417 $644 $99,356
Feb, 2023 $99,356 $414 $647 $98,709
Mar, 2023 $98,709 $411 $649 $98,060
Apr, 2023 $98,060 $409 $652 $97,408
May, 2023 $97,408 $406 $655 $96,753
Jun, 2023 $96,753 $403 $658 $96,096
Jul, 2023 $96,096 $400 $660 $95,435
Aug, 2023 $95,435 $398 $663 $94,772
Sep, 2023 $94,772 $395 $666 $94,107
Oct, 2023 $94,107 $392 $669 $93,438
Nov, 2023 $93,438 $389 $671 $92,767
Dec, 2023 $92,767 $387 $674 $92,093

💡 Quick Tip: SoFi’s new Lock and Look* feature allows you to lock in a low mortgage financing rate for up to 90 days while you search for the perfect place to call home.

How to Calculate Amortization Using a Calculator

So you can see that it’s not so difficult to calculate your amortized payments as it is time-consuming. Fortunately, you can save yourself the trouble by using an online amortization calculator . All you have to do is input info about your mortgage, including the amount you’re borrowing, your term length, and the interest you’re paying, and the calculator will do the math for you.

Recommended: First-Time Home-Buyer Guide

What Are the Pros of an Amortized Mortgage?

Here are some of the benefits to consider:

•   You’ll slowly but surely pay off the mortgage principal of your home loan. With every month, you’ll get closer to owning your home outright!

•   It ensures that you pay a set amount for each payment over the life of your loan. With some loans you may end up paying more at the beginning or the end. A balloon mortgage, for example, requires you to pay interest charges monthly during the regular term. You then pay off large parts of the principal at the end of the loan period. (Thus, your payment literally balloons.)

•   You can often get better terms with an amortized loan. And you’ll save money in the long run by paying less interest over the life of your mortgage.

Recommended: What Is PMI and How to Avoid It

What Are the Cons of an Amortized Mortgage?

Next, consider the downsides:

•   Amortized mortgages may favor borrowers who are putting down a larger down payment. To qualify for a competitive interest rate, you’ll probably need to put down 10% (if not 20%).

•   You might not be able to qualify to borrow as much money via an amortized mortgage as you would through an alternative mortgage, such as an interest-only mortgage or a balloon mortgage.

💡 Quick Tip: Your parents or grandparents probably got mortgages for 30 years. But these days, you can get them for 20, 15, or 10 years — and pay less interest over the life of the loan.

The Takeaway

An amortized mortgage can be a good option for many homebuyers. It provides a steady way to pay down the principal of your home loan.

Looking for an affordable option for a home mortgage loan? SoFi can help: We offer low down payments (as little as 3% - 5%*) with our competitive and flexible home mortgage loans. Plus, applying is extra convenient: It's online, with access to one-on-one help.

SoFi Mortgages: simple, smart, and so affordable.

*Terms and conditions apply. Applies to conventional purchase loans only. Rate will lock for 90 calendar days at the time of pre-approval subject to payment on 60th day of the fee below. If you submit a fully executed purchase contract within 30 days of the initial rate lock, SoFi will reduce the interest rate by an additional 0.125% at no cost. If current market pricing has improved by .75 percentage points or more from the original locked rate, you may qualify for an additional rate reduction. If you have not submitted a fully executed purchase contract within 60 days of your initial rate lock, you will be charged $250 to maintain the rate lock through the 90-day period. The $250 fee will be credited back to you at the time of closing. SoFi reserves the right to change or terminate this offer at any time with or without notice to you.
*SoFi requires Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for conforming home loans with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio greater than 80%. As little as 3% down payments are for qualifying first-time homebuyers only. 5% minimum applies to other borrowers. Other loan types may require different fees or insurance (e.g., VA funding fee, FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums, etc.). Loan requirements may vary depending on your down payment amount, and minimum down payment varies by loan type.

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