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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Are Interest Only Mortgages A Good Idea?

An interest only mortgage is a mortgage where you only pay back the interest on the loan, and none of the capital debt is repaid directly. Once you get to the end of the mortgage term, you will pay back the capital payment in full.

How do you pay back the capital?

Although you don’t pay the capital back directly through your monthly mortgage payments, you indirectly pay for the capital. You pay for the capital through an investment fund or other lump sum. So, instead of repaying your mortgage capital each month through mortgage payments, you may monthly payments into an investment fund. Apart from investment funds, the other main ways to pay off the capital are:

Savings

Switching to a repayment mortgage

Another lump sum such as inheritance

What is the advantage of this?

Although you are still making monthly payments into an investment fund, these payments are likely to be a lot lower than the monthly mortgage payments you would pay on a normal repayment mortgage. Your interest only payments will be low each month and so if you cannot afford to pay a lot each month at the moment, an interest only mortgage might be a good idea. Also, the idea is that the money you put into the investment fund will mature and leave you with enough money to pay off the capital at the end of the mortgage term as well as leaving you with some extra money.

Are there risks?

Of course, there are a number of potential risks of getting an interest only mortgage. The first problem is that if you are hoping to pay off the capital by switching to a repayment mortgage later on, you will be paying back a lot more money than if you started on a repayment mortgage. Although you may find it hard right now, getting a repayment mortgage to start with might be a better option. However, the main risk involved with interest only mortgages is that the investment fund you set up will not be enough to pay back the capital at the end of the mortgage term. If you cannot pay back the capital then you could end up losing your home at a time in your life that it will hit you hardest, such as at retirement age.If you are going to take out an interest only mortgage, make sure that the funding method you use is safe, and that you have contingency plans if the fund is insufficient to pay back the capital. If you do this, then getting an interest only mortgage can be a great way of keeping your payments low whilst you improve your income.

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