What’s included in a mortgage payment?

If you’re buying your first home, it might seem like going from paying rent to paying a mortgage is merely switching out one monthly bill for another.

But rents and mortgages differ on a couple of levels. For one, mortgage payments contribute to your stake in the home. The more payments you make, the more of the home you legally own.

The other major difference is what a mortgage includes. While rent is simply a once-a-month fee, a mortgage payment comprises what is known as PITI.

That acronym stands for:

  • Principal: This portion of your payment goes toward the total balance of your mortgage loan, without any other charges. 
  • Interest: This is the extra cost of financing your home. Your interest rate (which is set when you apply for the loan) determines how much interest you pay annually.
  • Taxes: As a homeowner, you’ll need to pay property taxes. These are typically paid monthly as part of your mortgage, and they could be included in your escrow account.
  • Insurance: Your homeowners insurance policy, which can also be paid using escrow, protects your home from weather damage, theft and other potential issues. If you require private mortgage insurance, that will add to your monthly costs as well.

If you’re considering buying your first home, it’s essential that you understand what goes into a mortgage payment — as well as how you pay off that loan year over year.

And don’t assume that all of the monthly fees add up to more than your rent, especially when you consider the equity you’ll be building.

Want to learn more about the costs you can expect when purchasing a home? Get in touch today if you have questions.

Need Money? Equity May Be the Answer

As a homeowner, your equity is your secret weapon. With every mortgage payment you make, your stake in the home grows — and so does your equity.

When your equity stake is large enough, it can be used to improve your financial standing. Tap into it to pay off debts, use it to cover home improvement costs or, most importantly, consider it a safety net in case of emergency.

Have you been paying down your current mortgage for some time? Then you probably have equity to tap. So what can you do with it?

  • Home Equity Loan: This is a loan you take out in addition to your existing mortgage. It lets you borrow against your stake in the home in exchange for a lump-sum, one-time payment. 

    Often, you’re able to borrow up to 85% of your home’s appraised value, minus what you owe. Many homeowners use these for large expenses like tuition, medical bills or the down payment on an additional property.

  • Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC): HELOCs work like credit cards, only without the sky-high interest rates. The equity in your home is used to create a line of credit that you draw from as needed. 

    HELOCs typically come with long draw periods (think decades) and are often used for ongoing expenses, like regular home improvements or maintenance. This method should allow you to borrow 75% to 80% of your home’s appraised value, minus what you still owe.

  • Cash-Out Refinance: Refinancing essentially replaces your existing mortgage loan. You take out a new loan larger than the balance on your current one, and then keep the difference in cash to cover whatever expenses you’re facing. 

    You can typically borrow up to 80% of your equity with a cash-out refi. Some homeowners use the money to pay off debts or high-balance credit