What is a Mortgage Rate Buy Down? How Points Work!

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Real Estate

Navigating the world of mortgages can be complex, especially with the various options available to fit your financial situation. One option that often confuses homebuyers is the mortgage rate buy down. Understanding this concept, particularly points, can help you make informed decisions and save money over the life of your loan.

What is a Mortgage Rate Buy Down?
A mortgage rate buy down involves paying extra money upfront to reduce your mortgage interest rate for a portion or the entire term of the loan. This upfront payment is known as "buying points" or "discount points."

How Do Points Work?
When you buy points, you're prepaying interest to receive a lower rate on your mortgage. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Cost of Points: One point costs 1% of your loan amount. For a $300,000 mortgage, one point would cost $3,000.
  • Interest Rate Reduction: Buying one point usually reduces your interest rate by 0.25%. This varies by lender and loan type, so ask your lender for details.
  • Break-Even Point: This is when the savings from your reduced monthly payments equal the upfront cost of the points. It helps determine if buying points is financially beneficial.

Calculating the Benefits
Let's look at an example to understand the impact of buying points:

  • Loan Amount: $300,000
  • Interest Rate Without Points: 4.5%
  • Interest Rate With 1 Point: 4.25%
  • Cost of 1 Point: $3,000
    Without points, your monthly payment (excluding taxes and insurance) would be about $1,520. With one point, it would be about $1,476, saving you $44 per month. To find the break-even point, divide the cost of the point ($3,000) by the monthly savings ($44), resulting in approximately 68 months, or a little over 5.5 years. If you stay in your home longer than the break-even period, buying points could be advantageous.

Pros and Cons of Buying Points


  • Lower Monthly Payments: Reduced interest rates lead to lower monthly mortgage payments.
  • Interest Savings: Over the loan's life, interest savings can be substantial.
  • Tax Benefits: Points are often tax-deductible in the year they are paid. Consult a tax advisor for guidance.


  • Upfront Cost: If you don't have enough cash or prefer to use it for other expenses, buying points may not be feasible.
  • Break-Even Time: If you plan to sell or refinance before reaching the break-even point, you won’t recoup the cost.
  • Alternative Investments: The money spent on points could potentially be invested elsewhere for a higher return.

When to Consider Buying Points

  • Long-Term Stay: If you plan to stay in your home for a long time, the savings from a lower interest rate can outweigh the upfront cost.
  • High Cash Reserves: If you have enough savings to cover the upfront cost without depleting your emergency fund, buying points can be a good investment.
  • Tax Considerations: If the tax deduction for points benefits your overall tax situation, it might be worth considering.

A mortgage rate buy down can be a smart financial move, offering lower monthly payments and significant interest savings. However, it requires careful consideration of your financial situation, future plans, and mortgage terms. Always consult with a mortgage advisor to explore how buying points might work for you. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.