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I live in the US and it seems that mortgages rates here are always quoted for either 15 or 30 years. Is it possible to get a mortgage in the US that is for a different duration? Say I have 23 years until I plan to retire, can I get a 23-year mortgage that would fit nicely into that timeframe?

If not, why the lack of flexibility?

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    Welcome to PF&M stack! I don't know the US specific part of this but one solution is to calculate how much you would need to overpay to pay a 30 year mortgage off in 23 years and pay that each month instead of the amount that the lender specifies. This obviously depends on the rules on overpaying on the particular mortgage. – MD-Tech Jun 18 at 12:59
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    @MD-Tech thanks for your comment and that is a good point. Although, as I understand it, interest rates for 15-year mortgages are usually lower than 30-year. So, if we assume the rate would linearly interpolate between 15 and 30, in theory it would be possible to get a better rate, if the mortgage was set up specifically for 23-years in the first place. – Time4Tea Jun 18 at 13:03
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    As others have said, get the 30 year and over-pay each month (making sure you understand how your FI applies prepayment). Then, when you're getting close to around 15 years out, consider refinancing into a 15 year mortgage or a first lien home equity loan if the rates are good. This way you can get the benefit of the (typically better) interest rate on a 15 year loan for at least part of the time. – dwizum Jun 18 at 14:28
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    Have you tried calling a mortgage bank to see what they can do for you? Most bankers would be happy to tell you about what options they can give you. That's how they win customers after all. – Seth R Jun 18 at 21:54
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    IDK about custom, but it is perfectly possible to get a 20 year mortgage. I have one (refinance from an original 30 year when interest rates dropped), and it was no more difficult than any other term. Motgage sites I've looked at also offer 10 year mortgages, and I wouldn't be surprised if there were 25 year ones. And a quick search says there are. – jamesqf Jun 19 at 16:42
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Maybe from a Credit Union or other smaller bank, but not a big-box bank.

why the lack of flexibility?

There is a huge secondary market for mortgages through the MBS (Mortgage-backed Security) market. This market consists of millions of mortgages that have sold by banks to other institutions, that package thousands of them together into "bonds" that are then bought by investors. The characteristics of the bonds inside are summarized by tenor, credit rating, etc. so investors know what they're paying for. Throwing 23-year mortgages into the mix would disrupt the models that investors use, making the bonds less marketable.

Since the overhead for making a "custom" mortgage would be relatively high, they just don't offer it to the public. It's not worth their time. A small local bank or credit union, however, might be more willing to accommodate custom needs (or come up with an alternative). However, I would not expect that you'd pay an "interpolated" rate. You may end up just paying the 30-year rate with a custom payment amount.

Just get a 30-year mortgage and make extra payments to pay it off early. Or get a 15-year loan, pay less interest and pay it off even earlier!

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    @Time4Tea Note that my explanation of rates based off of Treasury Bonds was wrong (they come in 10, 20, and 30 year tenors) so I removed that part. But the part about the MBS market is still applicable, I believe. – D Stanley Jun 18 at 13:55
  • I don't believe there is any significant problem including a 23 year mortgage in a loan sale. It's one factor among many that merits a small price adjustment (the same way that you're going to bundle together loans with various credit scores, LTVs, APRs, etc.). Any of the big box banks are going to be happy to write a 23 year mortgage, it's just not something that generates a huge amount of advertising – Justin Cave Jun 18 at 16:32
  • @JustinCave Thanks for the insight. I'm talking about a MBS securitization, though, not a loan sale. And when I search for "custom mortgage term" I get lots of mortgage brokers, but no large banks. Brokers and smaller banks might have different ways to moentize custom loans, but like you say, they're not as common. – D Stanley Jun 18 at 16:37
  • It is actually not so much a large industry as it is the way it works. A non-marketed mortgage is a LOT more expensive for the bank because it lacks the refinancing. – TomTom Jun 18 at 16:40
  • @DStanley - There aren't a lot of places that generate their own MBS's. Most often, the mortgage bank sells the loans to an investor that does the actual securitization. But the process is basically the same-- you're bundling a bunch of loans with different terms into a loan sale or an MBS and you adjust the price accordingly. Every large mortgage bank I've worked at has had a custom term option. If anything, a small credit union might be more constrained because their software simply may not have that option. – Justin Cave Jun 18 at 16:42
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My credit union offers 10, 15, 20 and 30 year mortgages. So there are ones available besides 15 and 30 years. The issue for the banks and credit unions is that if they let a customer pick their duration the correct setting of interest rates becomes more complex. The ones with non-standard duration's may also be harder to sell to investors.

One approach you can take is to get a 30 year mortgage, but then pay it off as if it was a 23 year mortgage. You can use a spreadsheet or online mortgage calculator to determine the monthly payment to get it paid off in 23 years.

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    +1 for stealing my comment and adding some fluff! – MD-Tech Jun 18 at 13:05
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I've worked for a few mortgage banks and they'd all be happy to give you a 23 year mortgage. Googling "custom mortgage term" returns pages from several other mortgage banks that offer the same. I'd wager that just about any large player in the mortgage market would be able to give you a custom term. It's not a hugely popular feature, though, because you're not likely to end up with a rate below the 30 year rate and you'd get the same result with a 30 year mortgage that you simply prepay a bit each month.

Particularly when you're looking for slightly non-standard terms, I'd suggest talking to a local mortgage broker that can get you quotes from a number of different mortgage banks so that you can more easily compare the various custom term programs.

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    I’ve seen standard terms of 20 years. I wonder if the rate difference is enough that the payment at 20 is only a bit higher than 23 yrs at the higher rate. – JoeTaxpayer Jun 18 at 20:40
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Is it possible to get a mortgage in the US that is for a different duration?

Yes, 15 and 30 year fixed rate mortgages are the most popular, but they are not the only options. Many banks also offer 20-year and 10-year fixed rate mortgages. There are also a host of hybrid loan options (7/1, 5/1, 3/1 ARM). 40-year mortgages have all but vanished, but you might still be able to get one.

Say I have 23 years until I plan to retire, can I get a 23-year mortgage that would fit nicely into that timeframe?

Yes, while your local bank/credit union may not offer/advertise a custom length mortgage, you can certainly get one. Companies like Quicken Loans advertise custom lengths (I think minimum 8-years).

The most popular mortgage lengths have varied over time. I've heard that the 20-year is gaining ground but haven't found good data to support the claim.

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There is little need, as you can always overpay or payoff early.

Basically, if you want a 23 year mortgage, you take a 30 year, and simply overpay each month a bit, and after 23 years it happens to be paid off. The exact amount is not basic math but not too difficult either to calculate, the web is full of calculators.

You also have the extra advantage that you can skip the overpayment at any given time (if there is an emergency), or increase it if you have more money. If you would have a fixed 23 year mortgage, you must pay (at least) the agreed amount every month.

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