Once upon a time, searching for a new house was a complicated, painstaking affair. In densely populated areas, it required prospective homeowners to spend endless hours reviewing home listings and looking for houses that fit certain specific criteria. Although real estate agents could and did help with the selection process, it was often a challenge for first-time home-buyers to agree upon their needs and wants.
Technology has radically changed the process of selecting a home. Thanks to online listing and price-analysis sites like Trulia and Zillow, it’s far easier for prospective homeowners to find attractive, fairly-priced properties. While the actual sales process still involves delicate negotiations and various legal hurdles, buyers don’t have to expend all of their energy in the run-up to this all-important phase of the process.
Technology has also changed the process of initiating and paying for mortgages. With nearly instantaneous mortgage loan approvals and automatic-debit payment options, many homeowners know exactly what they’ll be expected to pay each month and no longer have to worry about missing their due dates.
There are also a host of apps that make it easy and even fun to track the impact that these monthly payments make on a mortgage’s balance over time. These five mortgage-tracking apps take much of the guesswork out of the monthly mortgage scramble and provide homeowners with a frank, straightforward look at the status of the largest loans they’ll ever need.
Compatible with most Apple devices that run iOS 3.0 or later, Mortgages Pro is a no-frills payment-tracking app that provides new homeowners with a clear, dynamic picture of their home loans. A Mortgages Pro user can enter his or her home’s purchase price, down payment amount, interest rate, loan term, property tax rate, insurance costs, and various other fees and expenses. Any of these rates can be changed in order to account for changes in tax, interest and insurance costs over time. Unfortunately, Mortgages Pro lacks a “payment date” feature. This might require its users to keep a separate payment logbook to ensure that they don’t miss any payments.
This comprehensive app is especially useful for visualizing the amortization process. With an array of charts and graphs that offer clear visual depictions of the declining principal balance on a given mortgage, Mortgage Payoff Track is a great tool for homeowners who wish to celebrate little victories along the road to free-and-clear home-ownership. Mortgage Payoff Track is also useful for conceptualizing various “what-if” scenarios. In fact, many homeowners use it to calculate the theoretical interest savings associated with increasing their monthly payments by a given percentage or making a one-time lump-sum payment. Mortgage Payoff Track is available for free and works on iOS phones as well as PC computers.
Like Mortgage Payoff Track, Mortgage Mentor is useful as a real-time tracking tool as well as a planning tool. With an engaging interface that allows users to change the variables that determine the ultimate cost of their home loans, Mortgage Mentor is especially powerful for calculating out-year payments on variable-rate mortgages. The app accounts for PMI calculations and has specific functions for 3/1, 5/1 and 7/1 ARM mortgages. Mortgage Mentor is available on Android and iOS devices.
While it boasts many of the same features as Mortgage Mentor and Mortgage Payoff Track, Loan Calculator Pro has an additional trick up its sleeve: a “time” feature. This provides users with all-important monthly payment reminders. It also allows the homeowners who use it to choose specific future dates on which they’d like to own their homes outright. Loan Calculator Pro can use this single data point to calculate the exact amount that the app’s user must pay in order to be free-and-clear by the selected date. This app does have one major drawback: It lacks a facility for recording down payments. Loan Calculator Pro is compatible with iOS 3.0.
Although it can technically be used to keep track of any credit facility, Bill Payment Log is most often used to track mortgage payments. Crucially, it can juggle multiple loans at once. Accordingly, it’s a must-have budgeting tool for busy homeowners who don’t have time to keep track of their obligations in an analog checkbook. This free app is compatible with most versions of the iOS platform. A similar version is compatible with Android and Windows as well.
It should be noted that most of the above-named apps perform the functions of a typical payment-calculation spreadsheet. However, they’re generally sleeker, easier to understand, and far easier to manipulate and correct than a typical Excel graph.
In fact, these apps are perfect for homeowners who might not understand the more technical aspects of mortgage-payment calculations. They’re especially handy for folks who might need a little help calculating the amortization of their loan’s principal or keeping track of the fluctuating interest rates on their variable-rate mortgage. Unlike simpler loans, mortgages can be maddeningly complex and may require a college-level mathematics education to grasp. There’s no shame in relying on a well-designed app for a little support.