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Discount Points are a form of prepaid interest. A borrower buys a point and in return gets a lower interest rate on the loan. Each discount point generally costs 1% of the total loan amount and depending on the borrower, each point lowers your interest rate by one-eighth to one one-quarter of your interest rate. As the IRS considers discount points to be prepaid interest they are tax deductible in the year in which they were paid.

For example, on a $300,000 loan, each point would cost $3,000. Assuming the interest rate on the mortgage is 5% and each point lowers the interest rate by 0.25%. Buying 2 points will cost $6,000 and will result in an interest rate of 4.50%.

Both lenders and borrowers gain benefits from discount points. Borrowers gain the benefit of lowered interest payments down the road, but the benefit applies only if the borrower plans on holding onto the mortgage long enough to save money from the decreased interest payments. Lenders benefit by receiving cash upfront instead of waiting for money in the form of interest payments over time, which enhances the lenders liquidity situation.

On a practical basis; discount points are most often purchased by sellers as an incentive to prospective buyers. For most sellers, discount points are a cost of selling and thus tax-deductible. Buyers usually do not see enough benefit to purchase discount points. In the earlier example; spending $6,000 to reduce the interest rate to 4.5%, would have reduced the monthly payment by about $90. It would have taken a buyer 67 months to cover the cost of the points.