Buydowns: You Really Should Negotiate

Things have definitely changed in the past year. If you’re a prospective homebuyer, you have absolutely seen those changes firsthand. Most notably, mortgage rates have more than doubled which has created an affordability gap that has taken approximately 15 million buyers out of the market.

Yes, inventories all growing – however that isn’t due to the fact that more people are deciding to sell their homes. It’s because it’s taking longer to sell properties because less people are qualified. Current housing inventory is a little more than a quarter of what it was in 2008.

Because of this, many buyers are wondering if and when the market will return to normal – which makes it seem as if mortgage rates at three or four percent should be commonplace.The average mortgage rate between April 1971 and November 2022 is 7.76%.

Predictions for mortgage rates in the third quarter 2023 range from 4.5% for Fannie Mae, 5.0% for Mortgage Bankers Association, and 5.2% for Freddie Mac.

Over the past 35 years, it’s traditionally been a basis point difference of 175-200 between the 10-year Treasury and the 30-year mortgage rates.  However, recently, the spread has been 300 basis points. There is definitely a substantial increase. Some experts explain this to indicate that the Fed’s tactics for lowering inflation is working and the mortgage market will soon respond which is indicated by lower rates in the past few weeks.

“The gap between the 30-year fixed mortgage rate and the government borrowing rate is much higher today than it has been historically,” NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun, said. “If we didn’t have this large gap, mortgage rates wouldn’t be 7%, they would be 5.8%.”

However there is an opportunity for prospective buyers in today’s market.  The slowing of housing sales, down 34% from December 2021, have changed the environment buyers were experiencing in 2020 and 2021.  Instead of having to pay a premium over the list price, many sellers are willing to negotiate on price.

Without multiple offers being the norm, buyers can expect to include contingencies for financing, appraisal, inspections, and possibly, the sale of a home currently under contract.

Some buyers have opted to purchase now with an adjustable-rate mortgage – they are quite confident that mortgage rates will come down soon. This option can lower the rate by about one percent for the first period which can be five years. Once mortgage rates returned to acceptable, the borrower could refinance to a fixed-rate mortgage.

Want another option? That could be to do a buydown on the mortgage rate. In this case the seller would accept an offer to buydown the interest rate for the first two years.  It would allow the buyer to purchase at today’s prices, with much lower payments for the first two years.


$500,000 Purchase Price, 80% loan-to-value @6.13% for 30 years | Cost of buydown – $8,934
  1st year 2nd year Remainder
Payment Rate 4.13% 5.13% 6.13%
P&I Payments $1,940 $2,179 $2,432
Monthly Savings $492 $253  


This type of mortgage is a standard, conforming, fixed-rate loan where the buyer must qualify at the note rate.  The payment for the first year is 2% less than the note rate and for the second year is 1% less than the note rate.  The difference must be paid in advance at closing and in the case of this example, the seller paid it based on contract negotiations.

It is during this period of lower payments that if the rate comes down, they could refinance the property.  Let’s further assume that the rates come down at the end of the first year.  If the property is refinanced before the pre-paid interest is owed, the lender is required to reimburse the borrower which could be applied toward the cost of refinancing.

When the mortgage rates do return to an acceptable rate, there may be considerable pent-up demand from the mortgage-ready buyers who were priced out of the market.  This could lead to another seller’s market where high competition results in prices above list price and sellers not willing to accept contingencies.

Never heard of a buydown? The temporary rate buydowns have been available for decades.  It’s just something that isn’t discussed all the time. Their main purpose is to help a borrower get into a home with lower payments initially.  In some cases, they need it because they depleted their cash reserves on the down payment; in other situations, maybe, they are upwardly mobile and expect to be making more income soon.

The reason lenders across the country are talking about them now is because they provide a reasonable and viable alternative to buying a home at today’s prices without having the higher payment initially for the current rates.  It especially makes sense if you believe that rates are coming down soon.

Your real estate agent can give you more information about this and explain how you can negotiate with the seller to pay the fee to get this type of loan.  Call us at (703) 222-6714.

I can provide Insider Information on Fairfax VA homes for sale. Get you a FREE Market Snapshot Report of Your Northern Virginia Home’s Value, or  Search All Northern Virginia Homes For Sale. Put that data you need at the tips of your fingers!

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