A mortgage is a very long commitment, often upwards of 30 years. During that time, life will go on and it can be very easy to lose track of how much time you have left to pay on that mortgage. When this happens, you can refer to your loan documents or contact your lender to see how much time is left.
The length of time you have to pay your mortgage depends on the term and the type of loan you have. For example, if you have a conventional mortgage for a straight 30 years and you’ve paid for 15, you have 15 years left. If you have a balloon mortgage with a 5-year term on a 25-year amortization and you’ve paid four years, you have one year remaining, even though your payments appear that you have 21 years left. If you have a 3-1 ARM with a 30-year term, and you’ve paid two years, you still have 28 years left in the loan, but your rate will change in year three and again every year until it is paid off.
You will know exactly how much time you have left on your mortgage by the maturity date. This is the date referenced in the note by which the loan must be paid in full. If you can’t locate your original note, you can always contact the lender for a copy or you can simply ask what your maturity date is. You can also look on your monthly statement, but depending on your lender, it may or may not tell you how long you have left on the loan. If you received an amortization statement at closing, you can always refer to that as well.
Changing the Term
If you review your maturity date and feel that the remaining term of the loan doesn’t work for your situation, contact your lender immediately. You may feel that the loan is too long and that you can afford greater payments. If that’s the case you can apply to refinance to shorten the term. If you feel you won’t be able to pay your loan by maturity, you can request to extend the term. It all depends on your financial situation and what type of loan term you’re comfortable with.
Another option that will affect your remaining loan term is switching to biweekly payments. Instead of making one payment every month, you will pay one-half of your monthly amount every two weeks. Because there are 26 two-week periods in the year, you end up making an extra payment each year. This will save you on interest and cut your term. So if you have a 30-year mortgage, you’ve been paying for two years, you would typically have 28 years left to pay. However, if you switch to biweekly payments, you will shave five years off the term, leaving only 23 years left to pay.