# Points

## DEFINITION of 'Points'

Points are a measurement used to express the interest rate of a mortgage or changes to that interest rate. It also refers to shifts in the price of a security. Depending on the context, points, sometimes referred to as basis points (bps), reference different measurements, but in all cases, a point expresses a quantity of one of something.

## BREAKING DOWN 'Points'

When discussing bonds, a point indicates a 1% change relative to the bond's face value. In futures contracts, a point refers to a price change of one one-hundredth of one cent. A point also refers to a \$1 price change in the value of common stock. In real estate mortgages, a point refers to the origination fee charged by the lender, with each point being equal to 1% of the amount of the loan. It can also refer to each percentage difference between a mortgage's interest rate and the prime interest rate.

## How Points Work With Securities

To understand how a point affects certain securities, it's important to know the differences between the meaning of point in various contexts. For example, if someone has a \$10,000 security and it increases by two points, this means different things depending on the type of security. When discussing changes in bond prices, a two-point increase indicates a 2% change in value, meaning an increase from \$10,000 to \$10,200. With a futures contract, however, a two-point increase correlates to an increase of two-hundredths of a cent, or the equivalent of 2% of a penny, while a two-point increase on common stock worth \$10,000 increases its price to \$10,002.

## How Points Work With Mortgages

A point can reference multiple items when discussing mortgages. For example, if a lender advertises a mortgage's rate as prime plus two points, this means that the loan's interest rate is 2% plus the prime rate of lending. If the prime rate is 5%, the mortgage rate is 7%. If you're considering taking out a mortgage, then you can calculate the mortgage's total cost easily using a mortgage calculator like the one below.

Points also refer to adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs). Adjustable rate mortgages adjust their rates by adding a margin to an index rate, and the margin may be referred to in terms of points. For example, if someone takes out an ARM with a four-point margin and the index associated with the mortgage is 6%, when the rate adjusts, it is 10%.

Additionally, if a bank charges an up-front fee for the loan, it often expressed in terms of points as well. In this case, a point references the percentage of the total mortgage represented by the fee. To illustrate, if someone takes out a \$200,000 mortgage and the origination fee is \$6,000, the loan has a three-point origination fee.