When mortgage rates are up, prospective buyers can often feel like they’re at a disadvantage as they go about securing a home loan. Fortunately, there are ways to lower your interest rate to make your monthly mortgage payments more affordable.
What are mortgage buydowns?
A mortgage rate buydown is a form of financing that allows you to secure a lower interest rate on your mortgage by paying more money upfront in the form of discount points, also known as mortgage points, at closing. Each discount point is equal to one percent of your total loan amount. Especially attractive in times of high mortgage rates, buydowns are offered by sellers, builders, or lenders depending on the transaction. There are two main types of mortgage interest rate buydowns: permanent and temporary.
Permanent Mortgage Buydowns
With a permanent interest rate buydown, typically the borrower, seller, or builder will contribute to the cost of buying down the rate permanently. In this situation, the borrower qualifies at the bought-down rate for the life of the loan.
Temporary Mortgage Buydowns
A temporary interest rate buydown provides cash flow for the borrower during the temporary period, but they still qualify at the higher note rate. Typically, the seller or builder will contribute to the cost of buying the rate down temporarily.
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How do temporary mortgage buydowns work?
Temporary mortgage interest rate buydowns have their own unique structure. Below are three common types:
- 1-0 Buydown Mortgage: The borrower gets a 1% discounted interest rate for the first year.
- 2-1 Buydown Mortgage: The borrower gets a discounted interest rate for the first two years of the loan. The first year, the interest rate is 2% lower, decreasing to 1% lower the second year.
- 3-2-1 Buydown Mortgage: The borrower gets a 3% discounted rate the first year, dropping to 2% in the second year and 1% in the third year.
Although they share certain characteristics with adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs), temporary mortgage buydowns are slightly different. ARMs initially have a fixed interest rate period. Once the adjustable-rate period kicks in, both the interest rate and monthly payments are subject to change. With buydowns, the buyer’s interest rate doesn’t change; either the seller or lender covers part of the interest payments as outlined by the buydown’s structure.
Should I permanently buy down my mortgage?
Though buying down your mortgage interest rate permanently can make the payments more affordable, if you are contributing to this cost, make sure you can withstand the heavier financial load before proceeding. It also depends on how long you plan to live in the home. For example, if you plan to move shortly after buying, the short-term savings on your mortgage may not yet break even on your upfront costs by the time you’re ready to purchase again.
Pros of Mortgage Buydowns
- Savings on monthly mortgage payments
- A lower rate means you could qualify for a higher loan
- Discount points = prepaid mortgage interest, which is often tax-deductible
Cons of Mortgage Buydowns
- Higher upfront costs of buying a home
- If payments increase, higher risk of foreclosure
- Less cash available for remodeling, home improvements, etc.
How much can I save with a mortgage buydown?
Here’s an example of the savings you could see with a 3-2-1 temporary mortgage buydown. Let’s say you qualify for a 30-year mortgage with a $400,000 loan amount at an interest rate of 7%. With a 3-2-1 buydown, you’d pay a 4% interest rate the first year, 5% the second year, and 6% the third year. From year four on, you’d pay 7%.
|Purchase Price||Down Payment||Loan Amount||Interest Rate||APR||Loan Term|
3-2-1 Temporary Mortgage Interest Rate Buydown
|Year 1||Year 2||Year 3||Years 4-30|
|Number of Payments||12||12||12||336|
|Monthly P&I Payment||$1,909.66||$2,147.29||$2,398.20||$2,661.21|
|Total PITI Payment||$1,909.66||$2,147.29||$2,398.20||$2,661.21|
- Calculations provided by Penrith Home Loans
- Temporary buydown cost as % of purchase price 3.67%
With this structure, you’d save $9,018.60 the first year, $6,167.04 the second, and $3,156.12 the third, for a total three-year savings of $18,341.76.
Originally posted by Sandy Dodge and this blog post contains contributions from Penrith Home Loans.