Selecting the Best Mortgage for the Purchase of Your Home

Are you in the market to buy a house but feeling overwhelmed by the various mortgage options available? Don’t worry, we’re here to help! In this blog, we will discuss the five most common types of mortgages to help you make an informed decision. At Bankrate, we have been a trusted resource for financial information since 1976.

Consider Your Budget

The first step in choosing the right mortgage is to determine your budget. This includes both your monthly budget and the total amount you are willing to spend on a house. If you are unsure about how to create a budget, we recommend using the Bankrate Home Buying Calculator. This tool provides guidelines and tips to help you create a budget tailored to your specific financial situation.

Down Payment

Your down payment is a crucial consideration as well. While traditionally, a 20% down payment has been the target for many homebuyers, it is not always necessary. However, it is essential to have some buffer or emergency fund left over after purchasing a house to avoid financial stress. Additionally, it’s crucial to know your credit score and review your credit reports before applying for a mortgage. Credit plays a significant role in the home buying process, and it’s important to be aware of any surprises that may arise during the mortgage application process.

Conventional Mortgages

One of the most common types of mortgages is a conventional mortgage. This type of mortgage is not insured by any government agency and can be either conforming or non-conforming. A conforming mortgage meets the maximum limits set by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. If you choose a conventional mortgage and put down less than 20%, you may be required to pay private mortgage insurance. However, the benefits of a conventional mortgage include lower overall borrowing costs, the ability to request mortgage insurance removal once you reach 20% equity, and the option to put down as little as 3% for a down payment.

Jumbo Mortgages

If you are looking to buy a high-end house that exceeds the federal loan limits for conventional mortgages, a jumbo mortgage may be the right choice for you. Jumbo mortgages allow you to borrow a substantial amount of money, and the rates are often competitive. However, to qualify for a jumbo mortgage, you will typically need to put down at least 10% and have a good credit score. These mortgages are best suited for individuals with high incomes, substantial assets, and strong credit.

Government-insured mortgages

Government-insured mortgages are not loans directly from the government but are made feasible by government agencies. There are three main types of government-insured mortgages: FHA loans, USDA loans, and VA loans. FHA loans allow homebuyers to put as little as 3.5% down and have lower credit score requirements. USDA loans are designed for moderate- to low-income individuals purchasing homes in rural areas, and VA loans are available for U.S. military personnel and their families with no down payment or mortgage insurance requirements.

Fixed-rate mortgages

For many purchasers, a fixed-rate mortgage is a popular choice. With a fixed-rate mortgage, the interest rate remains the same throughout the mortgage term, making it easier to budget and plan your monthly payments. However, it’s important to note that the longer the loan term, the higher the overall interest you will end up paying. Fixed-rate mortgages are best suited for individuals planning to stay in their homes for at least seven to ten years.

Adjustable Rate Mortgages

An adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) is a mortgage with an interest rate that fluctuates over time. Typically, there is an initial fixed period, followed by a floating rate period. The benefit of an ARM is that the initial interest rate is often lower than that of a fixed-rate mortgage. However, it’s important to consider that interest rates can increase, potentially resulting in higher monthly payments. ARMs are suitable for individuals planning to stay in a property for a few years or those willing to accept the risk of fluctuating interest rates.

Other Mortgage Options

In addition to the five most common types of mortgages discussed above, there are a few other options you may come across. Construction loans are available for individuals building their own homes. Interest-only mortgages allow borrowers to pay only the interest for a certain period before transitioning to paying both principal and interest. Balloon mortgages involve making payments as if it were a 30-year mortgage, with a large balloon payment due at a later date.


Choosing the right mortgage is a crucial step in the home-buying process. By considering your budget, down payment amount, and credit score, you can determine which mortgage type is best for you. Whether you opt for a conventional mortgage, jumbo mortgage, government-insured mortgage, fixed-rate mortgage, or adjustable-rate mortgage, it’s important to do thorough research and consider your long-term financial goals. For more information on current mortgage rates and tools to help you throughout the home buying process, visit the Bankrate Dashboard and take advantage of the Bankrate Loan Match when you’re ready to start getting offers on your mortgage. Good luck with your home-buying journey!

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