Real Estate

The Best Online Mortgage Payment Calculators, According to Experts

published Mar 14, 2019
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Whether you’re a serious buyer or daydreaming to pass the time at work, a common part of buying a home is trying to predict your monthly mortgage payments. Is it going to end up being cheaper than your rent? Are you going to need to downsize a bit?

You probably want a ballpark number before you call your mortgage lender and hire a real estate agent, so you plug the numbers into an online mortgage payment calculator. But, just like everything on the internet, there are so many calculators available from comparison sites and lending institutions. Some may be bare bones, others may include some of the other costs associated with homeownership (condo fees, insurance rates, property taxes, closing costs, etc.) So how do you know which ones are the most accurate?

Here’s the thing: Every mortgage calculator available to you is only going to provide an estimate. You won’t know your exact monthly payment for a home until you actually buy one.

“In reality, you need to go through the application and qualification process first before you can receive any reassurance on those numbers,” explains Brian Faux, co-founder of the online brokerage Morty. “Mortgage calculators are a great resource for showing you different rates and mortgage options, but rates aren’t bona fide offers.”

Knowing this, it’s still a good idea to do a little preliminary math. While all experts I asked agree that no calculator is perfect, here are the three they recommend most:

Among the finance gurus polled, the comparison site Bankrate was the clear favorite. The site has a back-end mechanism that updates offers from lenders in real-time, says Jack McCambridge, co-founder of the online mortgage brokerage Eave.

Mark Maimon, vice president at Freedom Mortgage, also likes that it provides a clear payment timeline (a.k.a. an “amortization schedule”) that you can play around with if you’re planning on paying down your balance faster.

“[Bankrate] allows you to quantify how much making extra payments over time, or a lump sum payment, will affect your mortgage interest [while] calculating how much faster you’d pay off the loan,” Maimon explains.

Coming in second is personal finance site Nerdwallet‘s calculator. Haran Segram, an assistant professor of finance at New York University’s Stern School of Business, especially likes its user-friendly interface and that it allows users to compare rates and contact lenders.

Faux adds that NerdWallet’s wide array of resources make the site an informative place for first-time homebuyers to start researching.

Michael Tanney, managing partner at Wanderlust Wealth, a New York-based wealth management firm, likes to keep things simple with, a no-frills site that offers printer-friendly versions of its estimations.

“It allows me to break down the loan, break down the amortization schedule, and visualize the major components [such as taxes and fees] over time in chart format,” Tanney says.

Now that you have a good idea of what your mortgage payment ~might~ look like, take a look at what one actually does entail. Here, one editor shares how much her actual mortgage costs each month.

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