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Can Mortgage Points Be Financed?

Can Mortgage Points Be Financed?

October 5, 1998, Revised November 7, 2002

"In your article about paying points, you said that the additional cash drain might be avoided by rolling the points into the loan. If there is no cash outlay, isn't the payment of points a no-brainer?"

Not necessarily. Although financing the points eliminates the cash drain, it remains the case that you must stay in the deal some minimum period of time to make it worth while. If you pay off your loan very quickly, the larger loan balance that you must repay will wipe out the savings from lower monthly payments. 

Here is an example. A borrower selecting a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is offered a choice between 5% with 4 points, and 6% with no points. Assuming a $100,000 loan, the 6% loan has a payment of $600. Financing the 4 points on the 5% loan increases the loan amount to $104,167, but because of the lower rate the payment is only $559.

While the borrower saves $41 every month, the loan balance is larger on the 5% loan because it includes the points. If the loan were paid off after the first month, financing points would be a loser. The $41 saving over one month would be swamped by the $3942 difference in the balance.

Over time, however, the $41 per month saving builds up while the difference in the loan balance shrinks. A useful number for the borrower is the break-even period. How long must the low-rate mortgage with higher points be retained before the benefit exceeds the cost?  The shorter the break-even period, the more advantageous is the lower-rate loan with points. This is the same question that should be asked when the borrower pays the points in cash, although the answer ordinarily will not be the same.

 Some break-even periods are shown below for different investment rates and income tax rates.  The first number in each cell assumes the borrower pays the points in cash while the second number assumes the points are financed.  These numbers are derived from my calculator 11a, The Costs and Benefits of Paying Points on Fixed-Rate Mortgages. They assume a purchase transaction (the tax treatment of points is slightly different on a refinance).

Break-Even Periods in Months on 30-Year Mortgages: 6% at 0 Points Versus 5% at 4 Points

Investment Rate

Tax Rate 0%

Tax Rate 28%

Tax Rate 40%


49(63) 49(85) 49(103)


56(59) 55(80) 54(99)


68(55) 63(75) 61(94)

The table indicates that in most cases financing the points is less advantageous than paying them in cash.  The exception is where the investment rate -- the rate the borrower can earn on his money -- is high and the tax rate is low.

The break-even periods when points are financed assume that financing the points does not raise any other costs to the borrower. This would be true under the following conditions. First, the increase in the loan amount cannot bring it from an amount below $300,700 to an amount above that. Rates are higher on loans exceeding $300,700 because this is the maximum size loan eligible for purchase by the two government-sponsored entities, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Second, the increase in the loan amount cannot bring it into a higher mortgage insurance premium category. Mortgage insurance premiums are based on the ratio of loan amount to property value, with 3 premium categories: 80-85% (the lowest), 85-90%, and 90-95%.

Third, if you are refinancing, the new loan cannot exceed the outstanding balance on the old loan plus closing costs including points. If the new loan is larger than that, it is classified as a "cash-out refi" which may carry a higher rate.

If the larger loan that results from financing the points triggers an increase in the interest rate or the mortgage insurance premium, you don�t want to do it.

"I was offered a 'no-points and no-closing costs' loan on a refinance, but when I received the documents I found that the closing costs were included in the loan balance�Is that customary?"

The practice is all too common, but I would not use the word "customary" to describe it. That word "customary" suggests that the practice is OK when in fact it is something of a scam. You are not getting a "no-closing cost" loan because you are paying the closing costs. The fact that you are borrowing the money to do it does not change this central fact.

That doesn't mean there is anything inherently wrong with financing closing costs. The scam is in misleading you into believing that you are getting something for nothing -- a lower rate on your loan, with no cash outlay. You must repay money borrowed to pay closing costs, just as you must repay money borrowed to pay points, as discussed earlier.

Copyright Jack Guttentag 2002



Jack Guttentag is Professor of Finance Emeritus at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Visit the Mortgage Professor's web site for more answers to commonly asked questions.

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