What Is a Mortgage Principal?


A mortgage principal is the actual amount of money borrowed to finance a property purchase, excluding interest and other fees. This is the core of the loan amount to which interest rates are applied, determining the total repayment amount over the loan’s lifespan. 

Particularly in the context of investment mortgages and conventional mortgage loans, the principal amount plays a pivotal role. It not only defines the scale of your investment but also influences the structure of the repayment plan. As each principal payment is made, the outstanding balance of the mortgage principal decreases, progressively reducing the debt owed.

Distinguishing between mortgage principal, interest, and total mortgage payment makes for a comprehensive understanding of mortgage dynamics. The total mortgage payment, often a monthly figure, encompasses the principal payment as well as interest charges. 

Are you an investor shopping for a mortgage loan for a property? Would you like to acquire a conventional mortgage loan or a DSCR mortgage? The Mortgage Shop is your ideal US mortgage broker. We provide homebuyers and investors with various loan facilities for their real estate endeavors. 

How is a Mortgage Principal Calculated?

The calculation of a mortgage principal begins with the initial amount of the loan – the total sum that a borrower agrees to repay. This amount is determined by the purchase price of the property minus any down payment made. 

As the mortgage term progresses, the principal amount is systematically reduced through regular payments. However, it’s important to note that not all of a payment goes towards reducing the principal; a portion is allocated to paying the interest based on the loan’s interest rate.

For a practical illustration, consider a scenario where you obtain a $300,000 mortgage loan for a property investment. If you make a down payment of $60,000 (20% of the property’s value), the mortgage principal starts at $240,000. 

Suppose the mortgage is structured to be repaid over 30 years with a fixed interest rate. In the initial years, a significant portion of each monthly payment goes towards interest. As time passes, more of each payment is applied to the principal. 

Thus, although the monthly payment amount remains constant, the proportion of that payment reducing the principal increases over time, gradually diminishing the outstanding principal amount. This example underscores the dynamic nature of mortgage principal repayment, a fundamental concept for anyone engaged in property financing, whether for personal or investment purposes.

The Role of Mortgage Principal in Loan Amortization

Loan amortization refers to the process of paying off a debt, like a mortgage, over time through regular, scheduled payments. In this structure, each payment is split into two parts: one portion goes towards paying the interest on the loan, and the other goes towards reducing the mortgage principal. 

Initially, a larger portion of each payment is allocated to interest, with a smaller portion reducing the principal. This balance gradually shifts over the term of the loan, with more of each payment going towards the principal as time progresses. 

The amortization schedule, which is a complete table of loan payments showing the amount of principal and interest that comprise each payment until the loan is paid off at the end of its term, provides a clear picture of this dynamic.

If you are holding a mortgage loan for investment purposes or conventional mortgage loans, a larger principal will result in more interest paid, while a smaller principal will reduce the total interest cost. Therefore, strategies such as making additional principal payments can be employed to accelerate the increase in equity and reduce the total interest paid. 

Impact of Mortgage Principal on Investment Strategies

Leverage and Risk Management

Leveraging, in the context of property investment, involves using borrowed capital (in this case, a mortgage) to increase the potential return of an investment. When you opt for a higher mortgage principal, you essentially use more borrowed funds to acquire property, aiming for higher returns. 

This approach can be particularly effective in a rising market, where the appreciation of property value can outweigh the cost of borrowing. However, this strategy also entails heightened risk. The higher the mortgage principal, the greater the debt, thus amplifying both potential gains and losses. 

It is advisable to carefully balance the desire for high returns against the risk of significant losses, especially in volatile markets. This balance is crucial for a sustainable investment strategy, underscoring the need for thorough market analysis and risk assessment.

Cash Flow Implications


The amount of the mortgage principal directly influences the size of the monthly mortgage payments. If you are a rental property investor, managing cash flow effectively is important. A large mortgage principal can lead to substantial monthly payments, which may not always be covered by rental income, especially during periods of vacancy or lower rental rates. 

This scenario can strain your financial resources, impacting your ability to maintain or invest in other properties. Conversely, a smaller mortgage principal, while reducing potential leverage, results in more manageable monthly payments, facilitating better cash flow control. 

Investors need to carefully consider their cash flow management when determining the size of the mortgage principal. It requires a strategic approach, balancing the potential benefits of leverage with the practical realities of ongoing financial obligations and the unpredictability of rental markets.

Secure a Mortgage Loan from The Short Term Shop

The Mortgage Shop LLC helps investors and homebuyers turn their real estate ventures into profitable long-term assets. We accomplish this by providing various loan and mortgage facilities for a wide variety of property needs. Our expertise spans the full spectrum: from conventional loans to DSCR mortgage programs. 

Additionally, as a mortgage broker, we go above and beyond to make sure that your loans are utilized efficiently so that you achieve your desired objective. The Mortgage Shop Academy provides educational materials about mortgages and mortgage utilization and investment to all our clients. Get a quick pre-approval for your loan type today. For any information or inquiries about mortgages or property investment loans, contact one of our mortgage consultants.

Frequently Asked Questions about Mortgage Principal

What is mortgage balance and principal?  

The mortgage balance refers to the total amount currently owed on a mortgage loan, including both the principal and any accrued interest. The principal, on the other hand, is the initial sum borrowed, exclusive of interest. 

Throughout a mortgage loan for investment or a conventional mortgage loan, regular principal payments gradually reduce this balance, thereby reducing the outstanding amount of the loan.

What happens when you pay down the principal on a mortgage?  

Paying down the principal on a mortgage reduces the outstanding balance of the loan. This not only decreases the total interest paid over the life of the loan but can also shorten the loan term. For investment mortgages, reducing the principal faster can increase equity in the property quicker, enhancing the investment’s value.

Why is my interest higher than the principal?  

In the early stages of a mortgage, especially with conventional mortgage loans, the interest portion of the payment can be higher than the principal. This is due to the way amortization schedules are structured: initially, a larger portion of each payment is allocated towards interest, and as time progresses, more of the payment goes towards reducing the principal.

How do you calculate principal?  

The principal is calculated as the total loan amount minus the down payment. For example, if you purchase a property with a total value of $300,000 and make a down payment of $60,000, the principal amount of your loan would be $240,000. Over time, each principal payment made decreases this amount.

What is the difference between the principal amount and the interest amount? 

The principal amount is the original sum borrowed in a mortgage loan. The interest amount is the cost charged by the lender for borrowing this principal. Interest is typically expressed as a percentage of the principal and is paid in addition to repaying the principal amount.

What is the difference between a loan amount and a principal amount?  

The loan amount refers to the total amount of money lent by the lender, including both the principal and any additional fees or charges included in the loan. The principal amount is specifically the part of the loan that represents the money borrowed to purchase the property, exclusive of interest or other fees.

Can your mortgage go up? 

Yes, a mortgage payment can go up, especially in adjustable-rate mortgages where the interest rate can change over time. Additionally, increases in property taxes or homeowners’ insurance, which are often escrowed into mortgage payments, can also cause the total payment to increase.

How does the principal affect a loan?  

The principal amount of a loan determines the base amount on which interest is calculated. Reducing the principal through payments decreases the interest cost over the loan’s term. In investment mortgages, managing the principal effectively can significantly influence the overall profitability and viability of the investment.

Brenna Carles

Brenna Carles

I help people who want a place to call their home, where memories can be made, and stories to be shared. Where i can help clients build generational wealth for years to come. I provide the perfect combination of southern hospitality and relentless knowledge and passion for mortgage lending as if you were family.