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The Incredible Power of the 30-year Fixed-Rate Loan

The 30-year fixed-rate loan does not usually get its due as an amazing financial tool that should be utilized by any savvy investor who can get it. For many foreigners, it’s incomprehensible that in the U.S. we can get a loan that will never keep up with the cost of living for 30 years. During that period, essentially everything else DOES keep up with the cost of living, including rents. Only the mortgage payment and balance (which also gets chipped down by amortization) do not keep up with inflation. 

You can talk to many borrowers who have taken 30-year fixed-rate loans and after, say, 16 years, realized that although there are 14 years remaining to pay off the loan, the loan balance AND the payment seem very low relative to the marketplace rents and prices. The remaining 14 years is almost meaningless since in many cases (statistically and historically) the loan balance will be a small fraction of the home price and not very “meaningful.” Just to get some perspective, most other countries on earth have loans that constantly adjust based on inflation. Both the payment and the balance track inflation all the time, usually with no yearly and lifetime caps as adjustable loans have in the U.S.
 
The power and positive effect on one’s financial future get magnified when you consider that in 2016 we are still in a period in which interest rates are very low.  While investors cannot get the same favorable loans as homeowners, it is nevertheless quite common nowadays to see investors getting a rate of between 4.25% and 4.75% on Single Family Homes (SFHs) investment properties. 

From a historical perspective, these are extremely low rates. Most experts think that in the future, mortgage rates will rise; from a historical perspective, even 7% is considered a low rate. Thus, these days, you can “turbo boost” the great power of the never-changing-30-year fixed-rate loan by also locking in these amazing rates which will never change. If in the following year’s interest rates indeed go up, you will feel quite good about having locked under-5% rates forever.

Once you secure your fixed-rate loans, two inexorable forces start operating incessantly: inflation erodes your loan (both the payment and the remaining balance), and the tenant occupying your SFH pays rent which goes in part towards paying down the loan principal every month. These two forces create a powerful financial future for you.
 
Many investors think that if a 30-year fixed-rate loan is good, then a 15-year loan must be better. I actually beg to differ. You can always pay a 30-year loan in 15 years (or 14 or 20 or 10 or 8) if you wish – just add some extra to the principal payment. However, you cannot pay a 15-year loan off in 30-years. Thus the 15-year loan FORCES you to make the higher payment while the 30-year loan gives you the important flexibility of keeping your payments low OR making them high based on your financial situation and other considerations. 

Some would say that the 15-year loan is also better since it has a better rate. True, the 15-year rate maybe 0.25% or even 0.5% better than the 30-year rate. However, in my opinion, this is not enough to justify the enormous loss in flexibility. In addition, having the loan for a longer time allows inflation to “erode” the loan even further. This last consideration greatly minimizes the argument some investors make that “…with a 30-year loan I pay hundreds of thousands of dollars more over the life of the loan.” 

One factor missing here is that they neglect the TIME VALUE OF MONEY! These extra dollars paid in year 20, 22, 28, etc., are in fact extremely “cheap” dollars in the sense that their buying power is greatly lowered over time. If the value of these future dollars were to be calculated based on the PRESENT buying power of the dollar, some of the later payments may be worth mere pennies on the dollar. 

In summary, I recommend getting a 30-year loan and then choose how long to take to pay it (anywhere between zero and thirty years – you choose!).
 
While interest rates are low, it would behoove the smart investor to buy SFHs and get 30-year fixed-rate loans on them while this “window” is open. Investors can finance up to 10 residential properties using conventional 30-year fixed-rate loans (if their credit permits).  With some maneuvering, married couples may be able to stretch it to 20. If you are under that 10  (or 20, as the case may be) property barrier, it would be quite a smart move to buy SFHs and utilize the incredible loans you can get. You may wish to pay the loan off in 16 years to pay for your kid’s college education (SFHs are effective at this – especially if they don’t go through a crazy 10-year cycle as we had from 2004-2014). You could aim for the properties to be paid off at your retirement date (or the savvier move is just realizing how low they have become and let inflation keep eroding them as equity grows into your retirement years, providing financial growth well into the future in the face of ever-increasing lifespans, and the need for our finances to keep up with our life expectancy).
 
Thirty-year fixed-rate loans are available on 1-4 residential units, which mostly means Single Family Homes – the ideal investment for most individual real estate investors, as we have covered in a previous blog.
 
We will discuss this topic, as well as many other crucial topics for investors, at our Quarterly 1-Day Expo on Saturday, May 21st near SFO. We will have market teams present, including a new exciting market… We have also invited top-notch experts to lecture. We will have experts on Property Management, 1031 Exchanges and Proper Insurance – the first and most important barrier in protecting your assets, including nationwide umbrellas. 

Everyone mentioning this blog is invited to attend for free, with associates. Just email us at info@icgre.com to register, and in the subject line write, ‘Read your blog!’ Then give us your contact information. We will respond with a confirmation for your free entry. AND that is all. We hate spam as much as you do. See you there.
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