How Do I Know If I Should Buy Points on a Mortgage

How Do I Know If I Should Buy Points on a Mortgage

When you’re navigating the path of securing a mortgage for your home, you might come across the option to buy points. This decision can have a significant impact on both your upfront costs and your long-term financial planning, but how do you determine if it\'s the right move for you? Buying points on a mortgage is essentially paying a fee to your lender at closing to secure a lower interest rate on your loan. As you mull over this choice, understanding the ins and outs can save you money and stress in the long run.

Let\'s delve into what mortgage points truly are, how they work, and what factors should guide your decision to buy them or not.

Understanding Mortgage Points

Mortgage points, also referred to as discount points, are fees paid directly to the lender at closing in exchange for a reduced interest rate on your mortgage, commonly known as ‘buying down the rate’. One point typically equals 1% of your total loan amount. For example, on a $300,000 loan, one point would cost $3,000.

The reduction in interest rates can vary by lender and fluctuate with market conditions, but each point generally lowers the rate by a quarter to an eighth of a percentage point. The lower rate translates into lower monthly payments, which can make a substantial difference over the life of the loan.

To Decide Whether to Buy Points, Consider the Break-Even Point

The break-even point is a critical component in deciding whether to buy points. This is the juncture at which the upfront cost of purchasing the points is equal to the savings you achieve from the lower monthly payments. Calculating this break-even point helps you understand how long it will take for the upfront investment to pay off.

If you plan to stay in your home long enough to reach and surpass the break-even point, buying points may be beneficial. However, if you anticipate moving or refinancing before this point, the upfront cost could outweigh the benefits of the reduced rate.

Evaluate Your Financial Situation

Before buying points, assess your current financial health. Do you have the additional funds to pay for points upfront without compromising your emergency savings or other financial goals? If allocating money towards points will leave you financially strained or unable to cover closing costs and moving expenses comfortably, it might not be the wisest choice.

Compare Current Market Interest Rates

The state of the market is another crucial aspect to consider. In a low-interest-rate environment, buying points may not yield substantial savings because rates are already favorable. On the contrary, when interest rates are higher, buying points can make more sense as they can significantly reduce your monthly payment and overall loan cost.

Consider the Type of Loan

Different types of loans may benefit differently from buying points. For fixed-rate mortgages, the lower interest rate is locked in for the duration of the loan, which can lead to more significant savings over time. Conversely, with adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs), the lower rate may only apply to the initial fixed-rate period. After that, your rate—and consequently your monthly payments—could increase.

Consult with a Mortgage Professional

A mortgage professional can provide personalized advice based on your circumstances and the specifics of your loan. They can help you compare the costs and benefits of buying points versus choosing a loan with no points. Additionally, they can run different scenarios and show you how each would affect your finances in both the short and long term.

Long-Term Savings vs. Immediate Financial Needs

Ultimately, the decision to buy points hinges on the balance between potential long-term savings and immediate financial needs. If you can afford the upfront cost and are certain you\'ll stay in your home beyond the break-even point, buying points might be advantageous. But, if you\'re more focused on the now—saving for other priorities or uncertain of your long-term plans—forgoing points may be the smarter financial strategy.


Mortgage points can offer a viable path to reducing your interest rate and saving money over the life of your loan. However, the decision to buy points should not be taken lightly. It requires a thorough analysis of your financial stability, an understanding of market conditions, consideration of the specific type of loan, and the likelihood of staying in your home for a significant period.

In conclusion, the best approach to deciding whether to buy points on a mortgage is to calculate your break-even point, evaluate your current financial situation, and consult with a trusted mortgage professional. By doing so, you ensure that your decision is informed and aligned with your financial goals, both immediate and long-term. Remember, the value of mortgage points varies with each individual\'s situation, and what works for one homebuyer may not be the best route for another. Take the time to do your homework, and you\'ll be more likely to make the right investment when it comes to your home loan.

This article was contributed on Jun 09, 2024