When to Pay Points on a Mortgage

One common question a buyer will always ask us is “should I pay points on my home loan?”  The answer is “it depends on a few factors.”

The reason why you pay points on a loan is to get a lower interest rate. A point on a mortgage is equal to 1% of the loan amount. Therefore, if you are receiving a loan of $200,000 one point would cost $2000.

Paying points may seem like the obvious choice because everyone wants lower monthly mortgage payments, but it is not that simple from a cost analysis standpoint though. The main deciding factor whether to pay points or not is how long you plan on staying in the home.  Getting a lower interest rate from paying points is a trade off between paying money now versus paying money later.

Let’s look at an example using the a $200,000 loan.  We will assume that the interest rate on a loan with no points will equal 6% and a loan with 2 points will equal 5.5%.

  • Monthly Payment without Points $1,199.10
  • Monthly Payment with Points $1,135.58
  • Monthly Savings from Points $63.52
  • Cost of Points $4,000.00
  • Savings Rate of Return 2.000% (keeping the money in a bank account)
  • Monthly Income from Investment $6.67
  • Net Monthly Savings $56.85

By dividing the amount the buyer paid for the points ($4000) by the monthly savings ($56.85) we see that it would take the borrower five years and ten months before they would be at the break even point.

If a borrower is going to be in the home for more than five years and 10 months it would make sense for them to pay points. If they are going to be in the home for a shorter period of time the no points option would make more sense.  When refinancing, you can also opt to pay points.

Another important consideration is that points are fully deductible in the tax year of your closing. This however, only applies to purchases and not when you refinance a property. In the case of a refinance, the IRS requires you to spread out the loan deduction over the course of the loan. Using the $4000 for points in the above example you would be able to deduct 1/30 of $4000 over 30 years.  If you happen to pay off the loan early you can deduct the remaining balance in that tax year.

In any situation regarding taxes, I always recommend you speak with a tax professional.

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