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Understanding Mortgage Points

When a mortgage broker asks a borrower to pay points, he or she is asking for a lending fee expressed as a percentage of the value of the loan. For example, two points on a deal worth $100,000 works out to $2,000.

Sometimes, a lender may require the borrower to pay "origination points" on a mortgage. This fee allows the lender to recover many of their costs sooner in the deal rather than waiting to recoup them as part of interest payments. Many lenders use origination points to advertise lower interest rates to potential home buyers. Though their interest margin is thinner, these institutions improve their cash flow by pulling in these profits on the front end of the loan.

Along the same lines, a lender may offer a borrower the chance to pay "discount points" to qualify for a greatly reduced interest rate on a new mortgage. In these deals, the customer can pay an extra percentage point or two of the loan's value as an upfront investment. In return, the lender agrees to knock the interest rate down by a quarter of a percent or more. Though the borrower surrenders more cash at closing, they enjoy tremendous savings over the life of the loan.

In this hyper-competitive, internet-fueled mortgage market, a handful of innovative lenders have experimented with "rebate points." They work very much like discount points, but in reverse. Cash-poor borrowers who want to purchase a home with little or no money down can receive a rebate of a percentage of the home's value. In exchange, they agree to accept a higher interest rate or a prepayment penalty. Though these deals work against the customer's long-term interests, they provide a valid solution for many prospective home buyers without the liquid capital needed to close the deal on a conventional mortgage.

Whenever dealing with points, borrowers should weigh all their available options to understand the best long-term deal for their situation. Home buyers with the ability to afford a large down payment and closing costs will usually benefit from paying discount points. Customers with spotty credit histories may have to lump origination points to a lender that's willing to run a manual underwriting review on their case.

Kevin Adelsberg is a writer for For additional articles and an extensive resource for everything about mortgages, please visit us at


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