What is a first mortgage?

AffiliatePal is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.



A first mortgage is a term commonly used in the realm of real estate and finance. It refers to the primary loan that is secured by a property, typically used to purchase that property. In this article, we will delve deeper into the concept of a first mortgage, exploring its characteristics, benefits, and how it differs from other types of mortgages.

Understanding First Mortgages

A first mortgage is a loan that is secured by a property as collateral. It takes precedence over any other liens or loans on the property, making it the primary mortgage. This means that in the event of foreclosure or sale of the property, the first mortgage holder has the first claim on the proceeds to recover their loan amount.

Loan Amount and Terms: The loan amount for a first mortgage is typically based on the purchase price of the property. Lenders consider various factors such as the borrower’s creditworthiness, income, and the property’s appraisal value when determining the loan amount. The terms of a first mortgage include the interest rate, repayment period, and any additional fees or charges.

Interest Rates: First mortgages can have either fixed or adjustable interest rates. A fixed-rate mortgage maintains the same interest rate throughout the loan term, providing stability and predictable monthly payments. On the other hand, an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) has an interest rate that can fluctuate over time, usually based on an index such as the U.S. Prime Rate.

Repayment Period: The repayment period for a first mortgage can vary, but it is commonly 15 to 30 years. Borrowers make regular monthly payments, which typically include both principal and interest. The longer the repayment period, the lower the monthly payments, but the more interest is paid over time.

Benefits of First Mortgages

Access to Homeownership: First mortgages provide individuals and families with the opportunity to become homeowners. By securing a loan to purchase a property, borrowers can build equity over time and potentially benefit from property value appreciation.

Lower Interest Rates: First mortgages often offer lower interest rates compared to other types of loans, such as personal loans or credit cards. This is because the loan is secured by the property, reducing the lender’s risk.

Tax Deductibility: In many countries, including the United States, the interest paid on a first mortgage may be tax-deductible. This can result in significant savings for homeowners, making homeownership more affordable.

Difference Between First Mortgages and Second Mortgages

It is important to understand the distinction between a first mortgage and a second mortgage. While a first mortgage is the primary loan on a property, a second mortgage is an additional loan that is taken out on top of the first mortgage. Second mortgages are often used for purposes such as home improvements, debt consolidation, or to access the equity in the property.

The key difference between the two is the priority of repayment. In the event of foreclosure or sale of the property, the first mortgage holder has the first claim on the proceeds. The second mortgage holder can only recover their loan amount after the first mortgage has been satisfied.


A first mortgage is a crucial component of homeownership, providing individuals and families with the means to purchase a property. It is a loan secured by the property itself, taking precedence over any other liens or loans. Understanding the characteristics and benefits of a first mortgage is essential for anyone considering buying a home.


– Investopedia: www.investopedia.com/mortgage/first-mortgage/
– The Balance: www.thebalance.com/what-is-a-first-mortgage-315684