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Since 2003, Dan Green has been a leading mortgage lender and respected industry authority. His unwavering commitment to first-time home buyers and home buyer education has established him as a trusted voice among his colleagues, his peers, and the media. Dan founded Homebuyer.com to expand the American Dream of Homeownership to all who want it. .

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What Is A Balloon Mortgage?

A balloon mortgage is a home loan that offers a low, fixed interest rate for a short period, usually five to seven years. At the end of this period, the remaining loan balance is due in a single, large payment, known as the “balloon payment.”

A Longer Definition: Balloon Mortgage

A balloon mortgage differs from traditional fixed-rate mortgages in structure and payment schedule.

At first glance, balloon loans appear similar to a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, offering relatively low, stable monthly payments. However, the term of a balloon mortgage is shorter than a typical conventional or FHA mortgage, ranging between five to seven years.

The defining feature of a balloon mortgage is the large sum, or “balloon payment,” due at the end of its term.

The balloon payment due is the remaining principal balance on the loan when the loan term ends; it’s whatever balance has not been paid off.

Homeowners with balloon mortgages only three options at this point:

  1. Pay off the balloon payment in full
  2. Refinance the balloon mortgage into another mortgage
  3. Sell the property to repay the outstanding balance

The primary appeal of a balloon mortgage is lower interest rates and monthly payments, which makes it an attractive option for first-time home buyers who plan to sell their home before the balloon payment comes due.

However, balloon mortgages carry risk.

If the home buyer’s financial situation does not improve as expected, if property values decline, or if refinancing is unavailable because of a low credit score or other reasons, the balloon mortgage’s lump sum can create a substantial financial burden that must be met.

Balloon Mortgage: A Real World Example

First-Time Home Buyer Stories: Balloon Mortgage

Imagine a first-time home buyer who uses a 5-year balloon mortgage to finance a home.

Before the 5-year term ends, the buyer expects to sell the home and move to a different state.

Sometime during those first five years, though, the home buyer’s plans change, so they refinance the home into a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at current mortgage rates to ensure a lump sum payment never comes due.

Common Questions About Balloon Mortgages

What happens if I can’t make the balloon payment?

If you can’t make the balloon payment when your mortgage comes due, your options as a homeowner are to refinance the loan, sell the property to cover the debt, or, in the worst-case scenario, face foreclosure.

Is a balloon mortgage riskier than a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage?

Yes, balloon mortgages are generally riskier than other mortgage types because of the lump sum payment due at the end of the loan term, and the uncertainty surrounding refinancing or selling a home.

Can I refinance a balloon mortgage?

Yes, many homeowners with balloon mortgages refinance them before the balloon payment is due, assuming they meet the refinancing requirements at that time.

Are balloon mortgages common?

Balloon mortgages are less common than other long-term mortgages and are generally used with specific financial strategies only, or in situations where the borrower plans to sell or refinance the property within a few years.


This article, "What Is A Balloon Mortgage?" draws on the author's professional mortgage experiences and references information found at these authoritative websites:


  • April 10, 2024: Updated link to Fannie Mae website
  • November 20, 2023: Added video
  • November 20, 2023: Original publish date

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       A balloon mortgage is a home loan that offers a low, fixed interest rate for five to seven years, after which the remaining loan balance is due in a lump sum payment known as the "balloon payment."

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