Further, information from the tracking firm CoreLogic shows that these 15-year deals also made up just 8.5 percent of such agreements as recently as 2007, but accounted for 35 percent in 2012, the report said. The reason for this is simple: Rates on them are now so low compared with even 30-year fixed mortgages, which themselves have become extremely affordable, that homeowners can bear the additional, larger monthly payment because they'll save tens of thousands in interest charges over the life of the loan.
Related: Mortgage Calculators
"Consumers are financially savvy, and they recognize 30-year fixed mortgages are a bargain," says Frank Nothaft, chief economist at the government-sponsored mortgage-backing giant Freddie Mac. "But then they say, 'Gosh, a 15-year fixed is three-quarters of a percentage point even lower'... You can lock that in and never have to worry about refinancing again."
The benefit is almost immediate with 15-year mortgages as well, the report said. Randy Wacker, vice president of mortgage lender for Gesa Credit Union in Richland, Wash., told the news source that by the second year of such an agreement, more than half the payment is going to reducing the loan's principal rather than interest charges, and that doesn't happen until roughly the 11th year of a 30-year mortgage.
Mortgage rates are expected to hover near the current low levels observed nationwide for some time thanks to the Federal Reserve Board's latest round of bond-buying, known as qualitative easing. It's unclear exactly how long the central bank will artificially depress interest rates with this method, but housing affordability is currently hovering at or near all-time highs as a consequence.
See more on Credit.com:
How a Mortgage Can Help (or Hurt) Your Credit
Can You Really Get Your Credit Score for Free?
How Refinancing Can Affect Your Credit
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