MORTGAGE ORIGINATION FEE: What You Should Know

mortgage origination fee

A mortgage lender evaluates your qualifications before taking a calculated risk while funding your home loan. Lenders impose a range of fees in exchange for providing you with a mortgage to buy or refinance a property so that they may make money to provide more home financing to others. A mortgage origination fee is one of these fees. In this article, we’ll answer some questions like “can I avoid a mortgage origination fee?” and “is a mortgage origination fee tax-deductible?” Read on.

What Is a Mortgage Origination Fee?

A mortgage origination fee is any fee that increases a lender’s profit on a loan. It is what the lender charges the borrower for making the mortgage loan. The mortgage origination fee may include processing the application, underwriting and funding the loan, and other administrative services. 

How Do Mortgage Lenders Profit?

The interest rate on a loan already includes a markup for the lender. Some mortgage businesses will impose additional lender costs to make their interest rates appear more competitive, rather than benefitting only from the rate.

When comparing lenders, the key is to distinguish between real, possibly negotiable fees and expenses that are placed onto a loan to increase a lender’s profit.

How to Identify Junk Fees

These fees can be found by studying the Loan Estimate, which lenders are legally required to present you with once you apply for a loan. It’s only three pages long, but the section we’ll be looking at is on the left side of page two.

Beyond the discount points you can buy to lower your interest rate, look for anything listed in Section A, Origination Charges, of the Loan Estimate. This is where we’ll find the “junk” fees — the extras that lenders use to increase their profits.

“Those are the fees such as the origination fee, administration fee, underwriting fee, processing fee, document preparation fee, appraisal review fee — all of these types of fees,” says Carolyn Warren, a mortgage broker in Kirkland, Washington. “Some lenders like to divide their fees into three or four categories so that no one fee appears to be excessively high.”

According to Warren, lenders believe that keeping fees under $1,000 will be acceptable to borrowers, especially if they appear legitimate.

But that doesn’t mean the fees can’t be scrutinized or that you, as a borrower, should be afraid to ask for them to be removed.

Can a Mortgage Origination Fee Be Negotiated?

All origination fees are negotiated.

Keep in mind that any fee in Section A “Origination Charges” is negotiable and part of the lender’s profit strategy. And the larger the loan you seek, the more negotiating power you have over origination, junk, and other fees.

You can even begin negotiating before receiving an official Loan Estimate. To do so, ask each lender you’re considering, “If we proceed, what are all of the ‘origination charges’ listed on the Loan Estimate under Loan Costs, Item A?” Use those exact words and get a written response from them.

“When enough individuals reject costly loans and trash fees, then they’ll go away,” Warren adds. “As long as they can get away with it, [lenders are] going to do it.”

What Is the Purpose of Mortgage Origination Fees?

Every lender has fees associated with loan origination. Whether it’s their company’s overhead or paying bankers, underwriters, and scheduling appraisals. The ultimate goal is to create enough money to be able to provide loans to assist more people with their home financing. Some of these expenses are covered by origination fees.

How Much Does A Mortgage Origination Fee Cost?

Origination fees differ. Generally, though, they run roughly 0.5 percent to 1.5 percent of the overall loan amount. That is about $1,000 to $3,000 on a $200,000 house loan.

Keep in mind that origination fees can include a variety of charges. Here are some examples of typical fees for each of these:

Underwriting/processing fee

$895 – $1,145

Points for savings (optional)

Per point, you will pay 1% of your total loan amount.

Is it Necessary to Pay a Mortgage Origination Fee?

Origination fees must be paid — but not always by you. In some cases, you might be able to ask the home’s seller to cover these costs (called “seller concessions”). Sellers may be willing to foot the bill if:

  • The home’s been on the market a while
  • There’s not much demand from other buyers
  • The house is in disarray.
  • They simply need to move on and cash out as soon as possible.

Lenders can also cover origination fees, however, you’ll have to pay for this assistance later. In this case, the mortgage lender would provide you with “lender credits” to cover some or all of your closing costs in exchange for agreeing to a higher interest rate or a larger loan.

Tip: If you intend to stay in your house for a long time, “lender credits” may not be the best option. This is because they will cost you much more in interest over the term of your loan.

How To Avoid The Mortgage Origination Fee

There is no way to completely eliminate home loan origination fees. Whether you pay them in cash or not, the charges will be paid, either by the seller or by a higher interest rate or a larger loan amount.

However, there are ways to reduce your origination fees and make your house purchase more inexpensive. You can accomplish this by taking the following steps:

#1. Look Around

 The origination fee varies substantially amongst lenders. To guarantee you’re getting the best deal on your origination fees, request loan estimates from at least a few lenders.

#2. Negotiate

Because origination fees are in-house charges, lenders have the ability to negotiate them. They may be more likely to do so if you have a high credit score or a significant down payment.

#3. Ask for assistance

In addition to asking the seller or your lender for assistance, you may also ask friends and family to help offset some of your origination fees if you are in a bind.

A lender may not charge any origination costs at all in some instances. This is especially prevalent with internet lenders. They have lower overhead than larger banks and financial institutions.

But keep in mind that loans with no origination costs aren’t always a good deal. Always double-check your loan estimate to ensure that you are not being charged additional fees or expenditures elsewhere.

Hidden Costs of the No Origination Fee Mortgage

In most circumstances, if a mortgage has no origination fees, you will wind up paying a higher interest rate throughout the life of the loan. A lender must make a profit in some way. This might cost you tens of thousands of dollars over the term of the mortgage, depending on how long it takes you to pay off the loan. While you may save money in the short term, it may cost you far more in the long run.

If the interest rate isn’t any higher, the lender is probably only referring to the amount as an underwriting or processing fee. In many circumstances, the origination fee is intended to cover just this, so it’s the same thing.

Is a Mortgage Origination Fee Tax Deductible? 

A mortgage origination fee that reflects the prepaid interest on a loan is tax-deductible. Furthermore, if the seller pays a portion of the interest for you, these expenses are tax-deductible. This is because you can deduct the points paid by the seller.

If you wish to deduct the points from your tax return in the same year you closed on your home, you must utilize the loan to build or buy your home, and it must be your principal residence. There are some extra restrictions:

  • Charging stations must be a common practice in your area.
  • Your deduction cannot be greater than the amount of points typically levied in your location.
  • You couldn’t have borrowed the money to pay your points.
  • The settlement statement must include the number of points paid toward the close.
  • The points must be calculated as a percentage of the principal amount of your mortgage.

When is a Mortgage Origination Fee not Tax Deductible as a Business Expense?

When your lender utilizes loan origination fees for appraisal or title expenses, legal expenditures, or prepaid property taxes, they are not tax-deductible.

Is there any other way I may subtract my points?

Yes, you can amortize your points over the duration of your loan and deduct them from your taxes over the length of the loan. You must choose this option if the house is an investment property. People often choose this option only when their itemized deductions exceed their standard deductions for the year in which they acquired their house.

Where can I Obtain Information on Deductible and Non-deductible Mortgage Origination Fees?

Examine the settlement statement you signed at your closing to determine which loan origination fees are deductible and which are not. The settlement statement should clearly specify the prepaid interest, allowing you to distinguish between the two types of expenses. Remember that you can deduct prepaid interest on your loan. But, you cannot deduct other miscellaneous expenditures such as appraisal and title fees, legal fees, or any prepaid property taxes.

If I refinance, can I deduct my mortgage origination fees?

If you paid points to refinance your mortgage, you must deduct those payments throughout the life of your loan unless you utilized any of the money to make home renovations. Another possibility is that if you sell or refinance your home before your mortgage expires, you can take any of the deductions that you did not previously deduct in the year you sold or refinanced the home.

Comparison of No-Origination-Fee Lenders

Saving money on origination fees is advantageous to borrowers. However, you should also consider additional fees and the interest rate to get a whole picture of your loan costs. Lenders may pass on the origination fee cost to borrowers in other ways, so it’s critical to analyze your APR, which will show you the actual cost of the loan.

Obtaining a loan estimate at the time of application is the best approach to get an accurate view of your loan costs. Because your interest rate is heavily influenced by your credit score and debt-to-income ratio, you must give income and asset information in order to receive a loan estimate.

To receive the greatest mortgage rate, you should browse around for a lender. You can use numerous loan estimates to your advantage by negotiating with lenders to see if they can match or undercut the lowest estimate you receive, either by lowering the interest rate or reducing certain expenses, such as application fees.

In Conclusion,

A mortgage origination fee is paid to a mortgage lender to cover the cost of services performed in setting up your loan. They typically vary from 0.5 percent to 1 percent of the loan amount and are paid at closing. If you have prepaid interest points associated with your loan, they will be displayed among the other origination expenses on your Loan Estimate or Closing Disclosure.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much should origination fees be?

The origination fee varies. In general, they range from 0.5 to 1.5 percent of the overall loan amount, or $1,000 to $3,000 on a $200,000 house loan.

Who pays for the origination fee?

Homebuyers pay the origination fee.

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