Buying a home can feel like being tossed in a blender full of decisions and paperwork. With everything else to consider when you’re browsing those homes for sale in Columbia, SC, it can be overwhelming to think about all the costs involved. Meeting with a mortgage lender is obviously a must, but wouldn’t it be great to go in to that first meeting armed with some preliminary knowledge?
Enter mortgage calculators such as the ones from Trulia, which can help you figure out what your mortgage payment will be, what home price you can realistically afford, the benefits of buying versus renting, and whether you should really refinance the mortgage on your vacation home in Los Angeles.
“These tools really help in looking at the bigger picture, seeing that having a 30-year mortgage is no joke!” says Tara Krauth, a loan officer at Fidelity Bank. “That’s a long time, so you need to be financially stable and comfortable with the terms and conditions you’re agreeing to.”
1. What will my monthly home payment be?
Rent versus mortgage can be tricky, and many online loan calculators don’t tell you the whole story. Trulia’s comprehensive mortgage calculator makes sure to give you the real deal.
“One of the things I really like about Trulia’s mortgage calculator is that it tells you taxes, homeowners’ insurance, mortgage insurance, etc., which gives you a much more realistic version of what your payment will be,” says Matthew Goldman, regional production manager and mortgage lender at Security National Mortgage Company in Orlando, FL. “A lot of times, customers are like, ‘Oh yeah, a $600 mortgage payment!’ But they don’t realize that $600 doesn’t include any extras aside from principal and interest.”
2. How long do I have to pay private mortgage insurance?
The Trulia mortgage calculator can also tell you when you can kick private mortgage insurance (PMI) to the curb. Simply use the Loan Amortization results list to discover what year your loan balance will drop between 78% and 80% — at 80% you’re qualified to get rid of your PMI, and at 78% your lender is required by law to cancel PMI automatically.
“Private mortgage insurance can significantly impact a buyer’s monthly payments,” says Jonathan Davis, a real estate agent from Daytona Beach, FL. “With Trulia’s loan calculators, it’s easy to figure out how much money is being wasted on PMI, when a loan can be refinanced to eliminate it, and how large of a down payment is needed to avoid it altogether.”
3. What price range should I target?
If you’re wondering how much of a mortgage payment you should aim for, this loan calculator can help. Fill in your personal financial information to get an estimate of the home price you should consider based on your lifestyle, regardless of how much of a loan you’ve been approved for, which can sometimes yield a monthly payment much higher than you might be comfortable with.
“I have used the ‘How much home can I afford?’ calculator to assess what sort of property my customers can afford,” says Erika Huerta, Realtor at RE/MAX Northlake Associates in New Orleans. “Even though the numbers are based on an estimate, this loan calculator does a great job in giving you an idea of how much you can spend on a home based on your salary, debt, bills, available funds, property taxes, and homeowners’ insurance.”
4. Is it cheaper to buy or rent my next home?
While right now is a great time to buy a home, many factors can make renting a better option for you. Often, one of these factors is the ability to relocate on short notice. If you’re undecided, Trulia’s Rent or Buy? calculator can help you weigh your options. Simply enter the amount you could put down on a house, your monthly rent payment, and a few more items to generate a chart telling you the cheaper option.
“I love the sliding scale, as well as how you can click ‘Show Advanced Settings’ on this loan calculator to view taxes, insurance, and additional costs that may come up every year, along with closing costs and appreciation over a period of time,” says Matthew Goldman.
5. Should I make a biweekly mortgage payment instead of monthly?
Many prospective homebuyers might not know this, but making payments toward your mortgage every two weeks as opposed to once a month could save you on interest in the long run, since it means you’ll be putting more toward principal.
6. Is an adjustable-rate mortgage worth the risk?
Choosing a fixed- or adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) can be a difficult decision. Luckily, loan calculators can help you determine whether an ARM is worth choosing over a fixed mortgage. Plug in detailed information such as your total loan amount, annual interest rates for each mortgage type, index rates, adjustable-rate details, and comparison assumptions.
If you do decide an ARM is right for you, prepare yourself for an exciting, interest-fueled ride. And then head over to Trulia’s ARM loan calculator to see how interest-rate assumptions will impact your monthly payments, as well as the total interest you’ll pay over the loan period.
Have you used the Trulia mortgage calculators? Which was helpful in your home search? Tell us in the comments!