Every now and then markets remind us why some times cash is king. Setting up your mortgage with a 30 year amortization that reduces your monthly cash outflow is a powerful and beneficial financial strategy that can increase your overall wealth, despite often having a higher interest rate than a 25 year amortization. Yes this is contrary to many advisors that say you should pick a lower amortization period so you can pay off your mortgage as fast as possible, and it’s contrary to borrower sentiment to go after the lowest rate. But a 30 year amortization strategy can allow you to pay off your mortgage at the end of 25 years and have additional savings remaining where a 25 year amortization would not.
Let’s take a couple who are both 35 years old that have the option of a 25 year amortization at a rate of 3.5% for a mortgage of $500,000 or a 30 year amortization at a higher rate of 3.75%. The 25 year amortization will have a monthly payment of approximately $2,500 per month and the 30 year amortization will have a lower monthly mortgage payment of $2,315 which results in a cash flow savings of approximately $2,250 per year. If the cash flow savings are invested, by the end of 25 years this savings can allow the borrowers to pay off their 30 year mortgage and have approximately $12,000 of additional wealth remaining, assuming the savings are invested at annual return of 7%. By this time the couple is 60 years old and now have an additional $12,000 to put towards their retirement or other interests.
Of course, the results depend on the rate assumptions used for investments and mortgages over the life of the mortgage, so are the rates in this analysis reasonable? Well, the average annual return for the S&P500 stock market index over any 20 to 30 year period, as well as since inception, has been between 7% and 10%. As far as future mortgage rates go, variable mortgage rates have hovered between 2% and 2.75% over the last 10 years. Fixed rates tend to be correlated to government bond yields and at the time of writing the 5-year government bond yield is around 0.40%, and the 30-year government bond yield is around 1.15%, which doesn’t add much of a premium over the long term. In fact, you can lock in a 10-year fixed rate mortgage with a 30 year amortization period right now for 3.75%. In addition, the Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz recently stated that he expects global interest rates to remain low for years to come.
Equally beneficial with the 30 year amortization strategy is the flexibility it offers by preserving cash flow to manage other financial obligations. The preservation of cash can help meet unexpected expenses or a temporary loss of income that can often arise at various times in life. At these times, many borrowers are often turning to higher interest credit lines or high interest credit cards, carrying along expensive balances which could otherwise be avoided or minimized by using the cash preserved from the 30 year amortization strategy.
Smart investors know how to use leverage to increase their wealth and better manage their finances and the 30 year amortization mortgage product plays right into that. It matters not that you have the knowledge, it’s what you do with the knowledge.