The A to Z of Mortgages

July 7th, 2015 Posted in Economy|Mortgage 101

A is For Amortization

A is For Amortization

Taking out a mortgage is something that most of us do, sooner or later. There is a lot of fear and uncertainty attached to the idea of taking out a mortgage, not least because the term of a loan taken out to buy a house will generally be longer than if it were taken to buy something a bit smaller. Typically, the term for a mortgage will be in the region of 25 years – a very long time by anyone’s estimation, and a time in which so many things can change. Think about it – the average length of time an individual spends in a job these days has fallen to about three years. Although the average does not apply to everyone, and takes into account that people will spend a very short time in some jobs, it still offers the possibility that you will change jobs more than a couple of times during the term of your loan.

In addition, mortgages are considered to be a little bit nerve-wracking by some because of the jargon which is so often used by those who are selling a mortgage or by the financial experts discussing what the future holds for mortgage owners on the daily news – something of a motif of the age, it has to be said. Maybe most people just about understand what a mortgage is but beyond that, all bets are off. Take the average person (someone without a mortgage, as a preference) and ask them what a “principal” is. Someone who works in a school, or an actor in a lead role? That’s likely to be the response. Even if you mention that you’re talking about money, you’re still more likely to get a confused frown than an accurate reply.

When things get even more complicated, therefore, the average consumer is likely to become still more confused. Ask the average individual, mortgage holder or not, to tell you what “amortization” is, and the eyes will begin to glaze over before you have even mentally added the question mark. This is a pretty important part of a mortgage account, and there are still several people who will be unable to tell you what it is. The reason? No-one has thought to tell them. It could be argued that this kind of thing should be taught in schools, because money smart kids will be less likely to get wrapped up in debt later on.

Amortization is defined as “the allocation of a lump sum amount to different time periods”, and an amortization schedule forms part of any mortgage agreement you may have or take out in future. On a typical amortization schedule, the amount you pay each month towards your mortgage account will be detailed both in terms of how much will go to paying down your principal and how much will pay off the interest on your loan. As time goes on, assuming your loan has positive amortization, you will find that more of your payments are going towards paying off the balance of the loan. The kind of amortization you have will be influential in how efficiently you can pay off your mortgage, so ask any mortgage advisor to take you through your options.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to A Dawn Journal. This article originally published on the above website on June 9, 2009.

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