15 Year Mortgage Too Pricey for Normal People

This morning, I read a commentary on seattlepi.com from columnist, Christy L. Thomas called Seattle too pricey for normal people.   It’s regarding her move from Boise and how she and her boyfriend are considering whether or not they can afford to buy what they would like to have in Seattle. 

The part that struck me, being a Mortgage Planner, is that they are selecting a 15 year fixed mortgage for their financing.   That avenue would be an expensive choice for anyone.   She mentions trying to find a home priced around $320,000 based on what she sold her Boise property.   I’m assuming that Christy and Tom (her boyfriend) are conservative folks since they’re looking at a 15 year fixed mortgage…so the following comparisons are based on putting approx. 20% down.   I’m also using the rates I quoted on Friday.

  • With a sales price of $320,000, their loan amount would be $256,000.  A mortgage amortized over 15 years would provide a principle and interest (P&I) payment of $2108.75
  • A mortgage amortized for 30 years with P&I of $2108.75 would provide a loan amount of $356,480 and an approx. sales price of $427,750.
  • Amortize a mortgage over 40 years with P&I of $2108.75, you will have a loan amount of $377,270 and an approx. sales price of $452,725.

Same payment with each scenario…except you’re able to buy $132,725 more home using a 40 year fixed over the 15 year fixed and  $107,750 more home with the 30 year fixed mortgage.    With an interest only product, such as a 30 year fixed rate with a 10 year interest only payment, the savings (or how much more home they could buy) would be even more substantial.

I hardly ever recommend 15 year fixed mortgages to my clients…unless they’re doctors or someone who makes so much money that their mortgage deduction is reduced and they all ready have all the investments they need.  

Even if Christy and Tom’s case where they want to “look around and buy the home where, if we’re lucky, we’ll grow old together”.    Why pay off your mortgage and lose one of your best income tax deductions?

Christy, Seattle is not too pricey for normal people…your 15 year fixed mortgage is.

124 thoughts on “15 Year Mortgage Too Pricey for Normal People

  1. Thanks, Rhonda. 🙂 I’ve been getting great feedback from agents that showed the house and one gal even called to ask who did my staging. Of course she wasn’t thrilled to hear that I do my own but I did give her some names of people I do know, such as Andy Cappeluto who teaches a CE class on the subject (not the gal who does the ASP designation).

    If you can believe it, almost all of the products shown here are from either Target or Fred Meyer (majority FM). A few items from Cost Plus as well.

  2. if you go as a buyer’s agent, will you fall for staging or try to see through the value of the house?
    as a buyer’s agent will you be able to see beyond looks?

  3. The staging is really more for buyers – I think most agents are able to see staging for what it is, a way to show the house in the best possible light. It also makes it easier for a buyer’s agent to do their job – which is finding a home for the client. While the clients are able to now get a real view into what the house is like without concentrating on other people’s belongings (or clutter) then they can spend their time looking at the more specific items such as the layout, structure, systems, etc. I like to think that as a listing agent it is my job to help make it easy for buyer’s agents to do their job – and that in turn is the job I’ve been hired for – to sell my client’s home for the best price and in the shortest amount of time possible.

  4. I really like the splashes of colors added to the rooms in the curtains/rugs. It is always amazing to see the difference that a properly staged home can have on buyers.

  5. Nice! What was the division of labor between you and the seller? I assume you didn’t pull the carpets and refinish the floors, for example.

  6. Agree with Anon…NICE!!!

    However…when I look at the pics from your recent post and compare them to the pics from the new post…I’m not so much seeing staging as I am seeing a remodel.

    New Floors.

    New Kitchen.

    The “Staging” seems to be little more than just throwing a few pieces of furniture in.

    so…when we compare the before and after pics…I could ask the same question as the Anon above…but mine would be more involved and well…ah…never mind.

  7. The pictures look nice, but could you please post bigger pictures next time?

    These pictures are barely big enough to make out detail.

  8. The photo size is my fault as I set the max photo size for both full photos and thumb nails.

    By the way, did you try clicking on the thumbnail photos above? That does open up a larger version of the photo, even if not by too much!

  9. Sorry – little late to posting… regarding the division of labor from a client perspective.

    You can have the most proactive and informative agent out there, but if the owner does not want to heed their advice, then it’s kind of useless.

    I just worked with Rebecca on the staging of my current home. In terms of the question about the division of labor, it probably depends on the client. Our house was in very good condition and my husband is a neat freak, but even we needed guidance in de-cluttering our space.

    We spent a good chunk of our evenings for 3 weeks de-cluttering our house and getting things into storage. It was a lot of work. I think that at the end of the day, we took Rebecca’s advice seriously about what it takes to sell PLUS we saw some of the other homes we were going against. The de-cluttering and cleaning made our house stand out against other houses in similar area/price range.

    At the end of the day, we see our agent as a partner, and don’t necessarily look at it as a agent/client relationship. We could have said, “no thanks, we don’t feel like doing all of this work” (since I am the client) BUT who would that hurt the most? Not Rebecca, but my husband and I because the house would not have sold where it did and we were purchasing another home.

    The other benefit of us de-cluttering a month early before our actual move is that packing this week for the actual movers is pretty easy since we put about 60% of our stuff in storage. The current market does not dictate homes selling magically (at least for us). Homeowners need to take more accountability in making the sale happen, in my opinion; it can’t just be on the agent.

  10. I’ve been out of town and not focused on the blog stuff lately but I’ll put in a few responses now. And before I do I want to thank JB for her post here regarding the work we did together for her home that now is under contract.

    Anon – you asked about the division of labor and that can get tricky from house to house. But, for our purposes here we’ll discuss only this home that we’ve shown in the photos. My first appt to see the house was in early December 2006. At the time my client asked for my thoughts on what it would take to prepare the house for sale. We had two options: 1) house in current state and 2) house updated. The discussion led to what are decent homes in the area selling for now and what are homes that are in poor condition selling for and what were the financial goals for the client in the sale? Would prepping the home bring them more than what they’d put into it? In this case it made more sense to do the work.

    If my client did nothing other than just cleaning up the place, replacing carpet and maybe painting some rooms that were thrashed with teenager graffiti they’d have likely sold it for $285-315k. Homes in good condition were selling between $325-350k. A contractor I work with frequently, Artisan Structural Innovation, and a painter, were brought in to do quotes. Combined the work I recommended was quoted out around $20-25k and we could have completed it within 2 weeks with me managing the project. My client and her husband decided to do the work themselves (this made me nervous) with a few items contracted out to friends and an independent company (floor refinishing). I don’t know their final total for the products they used but I’d guess they still spent at least $10k for the paint, flooring repair and refinishing, counter tops, new stove and microwave, doors, trim, electrical panel and vinyl flooring. Of course they didn’t finish the work until 1-2 weeks ago so we lost a couple of months but we still did well.

    I provided the input on the type of updates they should make which included paint colors, the decision to repair the current cabinets rather than replacing them (saved them a bunch of money), counter top material/colors, yard work and more. They were great about following my advice and that has helped them by getting the price they wanted and then some which has more than paid for my services in their listing agreement.

    Services I provided included staging (over $2000 of equipment in the house) design, furniture/goods and labor (several days of work), professional cleaning, window washing inside and out, potted plants, door mats, yard work (this was the most expensive behind staging) and professional photography. Several thousand dollars are spent by me on prep as part of my pre-listing services agreement.

    Other projects I’ve done have varied depending on whether or not the owner is living in the home and/or what they have to work with. Staging isn’t always just about dressing up a place – sometimes it is clearing it out, moving things around, moving things in or out, and occasionally it means a remodel. I managed a 3 month remodel of about $20k for a client in the past and we more than doubled the amount spent in the price point so my client got over a 100% return on the work. In that one I helped with choosing paint colors for the exterior, interior, carpet, cleaning, windows, light fixture replacements, restaining a deck, pressure washing the driveway, new gutters, interior repairs, new trim and doors, yard work and more. You won’t see Redfin or any other less than full service agent doing that for a client.

  11. Reba – your staging work is amazing I love the photographs you have here, they’re crisp and clean!!!. Has staging a home become automatic to you? Would you say you are staging every home you list. I’m convinced that the more staging you do, the quicker your listings move, the better you get known as a Realtor who moves her inventory and that’s all that counts – isn’t it?

  12. Hi, Andy, your comments are truly a compliment considering you own your own staging company! The professional photographer, Scott Chytil (www.chytilphoto.com) I referred to you is the one who took them. Staging has been something I’ve been doing since day one of my real estate license, which is 4 years now, and we do it automatically with all clients with the amount of involvement and expense being independent to the client’s needs and requirements.

    I agree that staged homes do sell for more and that they sell more quickly than homes that are empty or have lots of “stuff” in them. I think it’s important for agents and their clients to do everything they reasonably can to provide an excellent product for the market place and to help buyers see themselves in the home rather than being complacent and saying, “I’m not going to put that much effort forward.” It’s a deluded client that will think they don’t have to do anything to prepare their home for sale and that they’ll still get top dollar for it without preparation. Unless you live in something that already looks like a model home on a daily basis it is unreasonable to think it will happen – particularly as inventory increases and fatigue of continued escalating prices is in the marketplace.

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