What Are Mortgage Points?

Written by Banks Editorial Team
4 min. read
Written by Banks Editorial Team
4 min. read

Are you in the process of searching for a new home? There’s a chance you’ve already started shopping around for a mortgage and narrowed down your list of lenders. And while evaluating your options to determine which comes with the most value for your financial situation, the lender may have suggested that you purchase mortgage points to reduce costs. But what exactly does this mean, and does it make sense?

Mortgage Points: What Do They Mean?

In a nutshell, mortgage points are a fee you can pay the mortgage lender upfront to cover processing costs or lower your interest rate. There are two types to be aware of – origination points and discount points. 

Origination Points

The lender is compensated for originating, underwriting and funding the loan through what’s referred to as origination points. As a result, you can expect to pay between 1 and 1.5 percent of the total loan amount to have the loan processed. However, buying origination points will not affect the interest rate you receive. 

It’s not uncommon for some lenders to offer home loans with little or no origination point assessments or closing costs. However, keep in mind that you’ll likely pay a higher interest rate or more in fees. You should also know that origination points are sometimes negotiable.

Discount Points

Discount points are a form of prepaid interest that directly lowers the interest rate on the home loan. Each point you purchase can reduce the interest rate by roughly 0.25 percent, which could make a sizable difference in your monthly payment and the amount of interest paid over the life of the loan. 

What is the Breakeven Point?

The breakeven point is the timeframe (in months) that it takes to recoup the amount you spend on discount points. It’s calculated with this formula: 

  • Total cost of mortgage point(s) / monthly cost savings = breakeven point (in months) 

For example, if you have a 30-year $250,000 loan with a 6 percent interest rate, the monthly payment will be $1,498. So you decide to purchase one point for $2,500 ($250,000 * .01) to reduce the interest rate to 5.75 percent, bringing the monthly payment to $1,458. In this case, the breakeven point would be 62.5 ($2,500 /$40) or around 5 years and 2.5 months.

Assuming you have no issue with staying in your home for at least this span of time, buying points could result in cost savings. But if you plan to move sooner, you’d likely lose money on the deal. 

How Much Do Mortgage Points Cost?

Each point is equivalent to 1 percent of the total mortgage. 

How Do You Calculate Your Mortgage Points?

To illustrate how this works, assume you want to take out a $550,000 mortgage. You’d pay $5,500 ($550,000 * .01) for one point. Or if you only wanted to purchase one-quarter of a point, you’d pay $1,375 ($550,000 * .0025). Or if you secured a home loan for $325,000, the cost of one point or one-quarter of a point would be $3,250 ($325,000 * .01) and $812.50 ($325,000 * .0025), respectively. 

When to Buy Mortgage Points

Buying mortgage points could be sensible in these circumstances: 

  • You plan to stay in your home for an extended period. A bulk of the monthly mortgage payment goes towards interest at the beginning of the loan, so buying points only make sense if you plan to stay put for a bit.
  • You want a more affordable monthly mortgage payment. An interest rate reduction of just 0.5 percent could save you several thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. To illustrate, a 30-year $275,000 mortgage with a 5 percent interest rate has total interest costs of $256,576. But if the rate drops to 4.5 percent, the total amount you’ll pay in interest is $226,772. If you can afford to buy down the rate by 1 percentage point, you’ll save even more in interest. For example, a 30-year, $350,000 mortgage with a 7 percent interest rate will cost you a total of $838,762, with $488,762 ($838,762-$350,000) accounting for interest paid over the loan term. However, buying down the interest rate to 6 percent means you’ll still pay a hefty sum of $405,708 in interest, but that’s a total cost savings of $83,054 ($488,762-$405,708).
  • You don’t plan to refinance soon. Refer to the breakeven point formula referenced above to determine how long it’ll take to recoup the funds spent on buying down the rate. Buying mortgage points could be a smart financial decision if you have no intention of refinancing before the breakeven.

When Not to Buy Mortgage Points

However, you may want to steer clear of mortgage points if: 

  • You qualify for a competitive interest rate. If your credit score is stellar or you’re planning to make a large down payment, you may score a low-interest rate without having to purchase mortgage points. But even if you don’t have excellent credit, a credit score that’s categorized as “good” could be enough to get you a competitive interest rate and save several thousands of dollars.
  • You plan to pay your loan off sooner. Making extra payments each month towards the principal can accelerate the repayment of your mortgage. Plus, you’ll pay less in interest since the amount of interest you pay over time is based on the principal balance.
  • You’re short on funds. The down payment on a home can take a bite out of your wallet. So, if funds are already low and buying points would create too much of a strain on your finances, forgo the points for now and consider refinancing at a later date to get a better interest rate.

Check How Much You Could Lower Your Mortgage Payments

Finding the perfect mortgage doesn’t have to be stressful, and neither does buying discount points to lower your monthly payments. With a lender like Zero Mortgage, you’ll receive personalized assistance from a team of experts who’ve served more than 12,000 satisfied homeowners and originated $3 billion loans.

Zero Mortgage also goes the extra mile to guarantee its customers are satisfied. For example, you won’t pay application or loan processing fees. Plus, there are no pesky underwriting or lender fees, unlike those you’ll find with many other lenders in the industry. And you can rest assured that the online application is easy to navigate, so you’re sure to have a smooth lending experience.

It takes less than 15 minutes of your valuable time to get a quote, and applying won’t impact your credit score. Even better, your dedicated loan advisor will be there to guide you through the process to determine which option is ideal for your financial situation. 

There’s also an extensive library of resources on the website to bring you up to speed on everything you need to know about home loans, the home-buying process, mortgage terms, interest rates, refinancing and several other related topics. Or you can refer to the frequently asked questions (FAQs) for additional insight.

Learn more about how you could lower your mortgage payments with a home loan from Zero Mortgage. Get your free rate quote today.

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