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By purchasing mortgage points, homebuyers can reduce their interest rate by half a percentage point or more.

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Homebuyers waiting for mortgage rates to be reduced may have to wait a few more months. 

That seemed to be the message this week after the latest inflation report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed inflation higher in January than expected. Although that 3.1% rate was lower than December’s 3.4%, it was still more than a full percentage point above the Federal Reserve’s target 2% goal. That means today’s interest rates are likely to stay high and an expected rate cut may not now come until late spring or early summer.

It also means that today’s mortgage rates — already hovering near the highest point since 2000 — will remain elevated as well. While that’s disappointing news for many homebuyers ready to act now, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re out of options. There is one way that homebuyers can reduce their mortgage rate by half a percentage point and it doesn’t involve an unpredictable adjustable-rate mortgage to do so.

Not sure what mortgage rate you’d qualify for today? Find out here now.

How homebuyers can reduce their mortgage rate by half a percentage point

If you’re a homebuyer looking to reduce the mortgage rate you’ve been offered consider buying “points” to do. Specifically, many lenders will allow applicants to purchase mortgage points to reduce their rate. This involves paying a fee to the lender either during the mortgage closing process or by rolling it into the overall mortgage loan. This fee, then, will reduce the initial rate you were offered. 

So, if you purchase 0.750 points, you can reduce your mortgage from 7% to 6.625%. If you buy 0.50 points, you can reduce your mortgage from 7% to 6.50% and so on. A full point is generally worth 1% of your total loan amount

This is worth considering for many homebuyers right now, especially now that the hope for a rate cut has been dimmed a bit. That said, it does have some drawbacks. An additional fee — no matter how it is paid — can be difficult for buyers to manage. It also may not be worth it if the new, lower rate is something that can be obtained by waiting out the market or by refinancing in the future. And you’ll be limited on how many points you can buy (you won’t be able to buy a rate down to zero, for example). 

On the other hand, every dollar helps, and if you can potentially save hundreds of dollars in a mortgage loan each month, it may be worth it for you.

Crunch the numbers here to learn more.

Other ways to get a below-average mortgage rate

Mortgage points aren’t the only way to get a below-average mortgage rate. 

As mentioned above, adjustable-rate mortgages may also be advantageous. These types of loans generally start with a lower rate but adjust, over time, to a higher one. But once that increase comes into play, the rate environment may have stabilized, allowing buyers to refinance into a lower, fixed rate instead. 

It’s also smart to improve your credit score and profile as much as possible (remember that the advertised rates are only for those with the best credit) and you should shop around for lenders to secure the best deal. Even a mortgage rate a few basis points lower than another one can add up to major savings over the lifespan of the mortgage loan.

The bottom line

Today’s mortgage rate environment isn’t ideal, especially compared to the lows from 2020 and 2021. But, historically speaking, it’s about average. To get a below-average rate by half a percentage point or more, borrowers should consider buying mortgage points from their lender. While points may not always be advantageous, they can make a major difference in your interest rate and can be especially helpful now when the forecast for rate cuts looks less clear. But options like an adjustable-rate mortgage may also be worth it for some buyers, all of whom should improve their credit score and shop for lenders before finally committing to a specific rate and lender.

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