What are Points?
As with everything else, there are good points and bad points. Bad points are the
ones you pay; good points are the ones someone else pays. They are charged by
lending institutions as extra upfront, one-time lump-sum interest, when a new loan is
Each point is 1 percent of a new loan being placed. If you buy a house for $150,000
and borrow $120,000, one point would equal $1,200 (not $1,500). Two points would be
$2,400. The term is sometimes used interchangeably with per cent, as in You'll have
a two-point cap, which means that you'd have a 2-percent cap.
Points are usually paid at final settlement when the loan is actually made or,
occasionally, at the time of mortgage application (in which case, find out whether they
are refundable if the loan does not go through).
Sometimes you can pay extra points in return for special favors - a lock-in guarantees
that you'll receive the rate in effect when you apply for the loan, no matter what has
happened to rates in the meantime (but what if rates go down before your closing?) Or you
may be charged extra for an extension if you don't close within a given period after the
bank commits to making the loan.
When rates are fluctuating rapidly, some borrowers have been known to make mortgage
application at two different lenders: one with rate locked in, and one without. For
whichever loan isn't eventually chosen, the wheeler-dealer will forfeit an application
fee, usually several hundred dollars to cover at least an appraisal and credit report. If
wide-spread, the practice would pose a great nuisance to lenders, but it could give the
applicant a chance to choose the more favorable loan at the last minute.
Points may be paid by either buyer or seller, depending on their agreement. Points
paid by you as the buyer of your own residence are income tax deductible as interest, in
the year they are paid. Points you pay to purchase income property must be amortized
(deducted bit by bit over the years) along with the other costs of placing an investor's
Points paid by the seller are one of the expenses of selling, and reduce the seller's
capital gain on the sale. The buyer, however, is allowed to take points paid by
either party as an income tax deduction for interest expense for that year.
This Homebuyers Tip was excerpted from:
The Home Buyer's Kit, Third Edition , by Edith Lank, Dearborn Financial Publishing , Inc.,