About a year ago we bought a house, paid in full with cash. Then I got a small mortgage as an inflation hedge and to invest for fun and profit (or loss.)
We used a chunk of the mortgage to fund moving expenses and to acquire all of the typical home accoutrements, put solar on our roof, and pay the medium-sized tax bill that comes with selling enough stock to pay cash for a house. The remainder I put back into the market as a lump sum.
It has now been one year out of thirty. Let’s check in on how this investment is doing.
Whether to have a mortgage or not is a topic of much debate amongst retirees of both the early and traditional type.
I found myself on the pro side of the argument because inflation was high and rates were low.
Our mortgage is $250,000 30-year fixed 2.75% interest. Payments are $1,020.60 monthly and I pay property taxes and insurance directly (no escrow.)
In September 2021 I invested $150,147 (60% of the mortgage proceeds) roughly in accordance with our asset allocation since I didn’t want to keep the excess funds lying around in cash.
- 450 shares of VTI @ 222.61 ($100,174.50)
- 475 shares of VXUS @ 63.10 ($29,972.50)
- I-bonds @ $20,000 ($20,000)
This is roughly a 75/25 US/International split on the equity allocation and a small contribution to bonds.
One of the plus sides of investing the mortgage vs holding in cash is that we receive regular dividends and interest.
We have now received 5 dividend distributions from VTI and VXUS and the monthly interest on the I-bonds.
Q32021 – $325.89
Q42021 – $386.64
Q12022 – $318.69
Q22022 – $337.10
Q32022 – $357.98
Q32021 – $169.34
Q42021 – $447.07
Q12022 – $ 47.69
Q22022 – $279.92
Q32022 – $133.19
Interest – $592 (through 10/1/2022) (currently paying 9.62%)
(Dividends used for current spending, I-bond interest added to principal.)
Unrealized Gains / Losses
One of the potential downsides of investing a mortgage is that the value of that investment changes with market values. Since markets are down our investment is down.
Recent prices from market close on September 22th, 2022.
Purchase price: $222.61
Recent price: $184.26
Purchase price: $63.10
Recent price: $46.69
Total gain/loss(%): -16.7%
Total gain/loss($): -$25,052.25
Another downside of investing the mortgage is we are making monthly mortgage payments. Although we get dividends and interest, we pay tax on those distributions.
Mortgage closing costs: -$30.37 (after all expenses and credits, the bank paid us to get a mortgage. Total scaled 60% of total to account for investing 60% of mortgage)
After holding the mortgage a year, it has cost us $4,374.90 in interest.
Pre-paid at closing: $260.19
Nov 2021 – $344.09
Dec 2021 – $343.46
Jan 2022 – $342.84
Feb 2022 – $342.22
Mar 2022 – $341.59
Apr 2022 – $340.96
May 2022 – $340.33
Jun 2022 – $339.70
Jul 2022 – $339.07
Aug 2022 – $338.45
Sep 2022 – $337.82
Oct 2022 – $337.19
2021 – $364.35 (effective tax rate: ~27.4%)
2022 through Q3 – $265.42 (effective tax rate: ~18%)
Per Vanguard, an estimated 97.57% of VTI dividends are qualified. For VXUS it is 73.76%.
Our 2021 tax rate for qualified dividends was ~25.8% (15% dividends, 3.8% NIIT, and ~7% California (scaled for part year residents.))
The tax rate for non-qualified dividends was higher, ~37.8% (12% ordinary, 15% dividends pushed out of 0% bracket, 3.8% NIIT, and ~7% CA.)
For 2022 our effective tax rate is 14% ACA tax and 4% CA, applied equally to qualified and non-qualified dividends. We will owe zero federal income tax.
We will get no tax benefit for the deduction of mortgage interest or property taxes.
Total expenses: $4,947.31
Additional gain/loss: -3.3%
Expenses minus income sucks another 1% out of total return.
Inflation is great for debt holders and was one of the motivating factors in getting a mortgage in the first place.
According to this inflation calculator, the $150,147 that I invested on 9/17/2021 is worth $10,186 LESS on 9/17/2022. Meanwhile my mortgage payment remains the same.
However, the value of my investments is down by an equal amount due to the same.
Was investing the mortgage a good idea?
Based on the 1 year return, no. Our investment is down significantly in nominal terms and even more in real terms.
A big factor in the return of any investment is the sequence of returns. Unfortunately the start of that sequence on this investment is not good at all.
Fortunately, this is a long-term investment. Ideally I will still hold these shares in 30 years.
Although this year expenses were greater than income (~$1500 more), as dividends increase and the interest portion of the mortgage payment decreases that will
reverse. Probably in year 5 to 7 plus or minus.
We got a small mortgage and invested much of the proceeds.
After one year, our investment is down 17.7%.
Cap loss (unrealized): -$25,052.25, -16.7%
Mortgage interest: $4,347.90, -2.9%
Dividends / Interest: $3,395.50, +2.3%
Taxes: $629.77, -0.4%
I have no idea what will happen in the short term.