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What is an origination fee?

Loan origination fees are one way mortgage lenders make money

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by Kathryn Parkman ConsumerAffairs Research Team
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Most people work with a mortgage company to finance a home. When you apply for a home loan, a mortgage company has to process your application before disbursing any funds.

Origination fees are how lenders charge for these services.

What is a loan origination fee?

Loan origination is the process that lenders must complete to get you a mortgage. Origination fees include expenses for processing your application, underwriting, funding the loan and other administrative services. Loan origination fees compensate your mortgage lender for the services they provide.

Origination fees vary from lender to lender. When you take out a mortgage, the origination fee is usually between 0.5% and 1% of the total loan amount. You can sometimes negotiate with your lender to get a better interest rate in exchange for a higher upfront origination fee.

How origination fees work

Lenders charge origination fees on loans to cover processing paperwork costs, verifying borrower income and assets, securing underwriting and funding the loan. Some lenders charge separate underwriting and processing fees, which is another way to represent origination fees.

Mortgage origination fees are calculated based on a percentage of the total loan. For example, if your lender charges a 1% origination fee on a $100,000 home loan, the origination fee would be $1,000.

Instead of collecting the fees from the borrower upfront, the costs are added to the loan or recovered by charging a higher interest rate. Some lenders offer loans with no origination fees or no closing costs, but this typically results in a higher amount paid over the life of the loan.

How much are loan origination fees?

How much your origination fee is depends on how much you need to borrow. For a mortgage, origination fees are typically 0.5% to 1% of the loan amount. If you have a competitive buyer profile or a lender is particularly eager to win your business, you might be able to negotiate on origination fees.

Origination fees for personal loans can be much higher, up to 5%, depending on the amount of risk and work for the lender. Your lender should discuss origination fees at the beginning of the process, before the lender prequalifies you for the loan.

Remember that mortgage lenders quote origination fees as a percentage of the total loan amount. The amount of your origination fee is based on how much you borrow. However, U.S. law prohibits lenders from charging more than $6,000.

Origination fee FAQ

What are lender fees?
Lender fees are any charges added to a loan by the lender in addition to the loan amount. The largest lender fee is usually the origination fee, which could also be listed separately as a processing fee, underwriting fee or funding fee. Lenders might also charge an application fee, rate lock fee or title fee. Ask your lender for a list and explanation of all fees before closing on a loan.
What are origination points?
Origination points refer to fees borrowers pay directly to lenders for evaluating qualifications, processing paperwork, securing underwriting and funding the loan. Origination fees and origination points refer to the same thing. One origination point equals 1% of the loan amount. Typically it will cost the borrower less over time to pay higher origination points upfront on a mortgage, especially if the buyer plans to stay in the home and pay off the loan. Paying lower origination points at closing will likely result in a higher interest rate over the life of the loan because the lender will want to recoup the money in exchange for working on your mortgage.
What is included in closing costs?
Closing costs typically include origination fees, appraisal fees, title fees and other third-party fees. During the home-buying process, a buyer must meet certain criteria to complete the mortgage. Services performed by any entity other than your lender incur third-party fees, including inspection and insurance. These fees are usually added to closing costs.
  • Appraisal fee: Before a home is eligible for sale, a licensed professional must determine the market value. The appraisal includes an inspection of the property, a comparison to home values in the area and a final report. The buyer typically pays the appraisal fee.
  • Title insurance: Title insurance can protect the lender and borrower from problems related to contested legal ownership of a property. Possible issues with a title include back taxes, liens or unsettled wills from previous owners. The insurance premium is paid during escrow, and coverage lasts until the loan is settled.
  • Assignment recording fee: Real estate transactions are required to be part of public record. The assignment recording fee pays for a government agency to register the purchase or sale of real estate.
  • Tax service fee: A mortgage lender hires a tax service at closing to research a property and determine it is free of tax liens and other impediments. If delinquent taxes exist and the buyer defaults on the loan, the preexisting tax liens allow the state to seize the property and the lender would have no access to the collateral. The lender usually passes this charge on to the borrower.
  • Credit report fee: The credit report fee covers the cost the lender pays to obtain a copy of your credit report during the loan approval process.
  • Flood certification: Flood certification is a document that states the flood zone status of a piece of real estate. If a home is determined to be in a flood zone, flood insurance might be required to complete the loan. Lenders typically partner with a professional for this service and pass the cost on to the borrower.
Can closing costs be included in loan?
Some loan types and lenders let borrowers roll closing costs into the loan amount. Financing closing costs means the buyer pays interest on those costs over the life of the loan, which increases the overall cost compared to paying upfront.
When are closing costs due?
Closing costs are due when the borrower signs the final loan documents. At this point, the title is transferred.
What are escrow fees?
Escrow fees are paid to the company or professional who handles the transfer of funds and associated paperwork during a real estate sale. This can be a title company, attorney or escrow agent.
How much is an escrow fee?
Escrow fees average between 1% and 2% of the home’s purchase price.
Who pays escrow fees?
Buyers typically pay escrow fees. Buyers can also ask sellers to pay escrow fees in whole or part, though the seller’s acceptance of these terms will depend on how motivated they are to complete the sale.
Are loan origination fees negotiable?
Loan origination fees are negotiable. Be aware that when a lender agrees to a lower origination fee, the interest rate will most likely be higher over the life of the loan to recoup money for the lender.
What is loan origination?
Loan origination is a process that includes applying for a loan and the disbursement of funds. In other words, lenders must “originate” the loan.

Bottom line: What an origination fee on a mortgage is

Mortgage lenders charge origination fees to cover the work they do to verify borrower qualifications, process paperwork, secure underwriting for and fund a loan. This is one way lenders make money, so borrowers should expect to pay origination fees on a loan. While origination fees might be negotiable, a lower origination fee will probably result in a higher interest rate. Origination fees are part of the closing costs borrowers pay on a loan or mortgage.

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Profile picture of Kathryn Parkman
by Kathryn Parkman ConsumerAffairs Research Team

As a member of the ConsumerAffairs Research Team, Kathryn Parkman believes everyone deserves easy access to accurate and comprehensive information on products and businesses before they make a purchase, which is why she spends hours researching companies and industries for ConsumerAffairs. She believes conscious consumption is everyone's responsibility and that all content deserves integrity.