Understanding the 3 2 1 Buydown Mortgage


Buying a house is a dream that almost everyone has at some point in their lives. However, purchasing a home can be an overwhelming process, especially with the variety of mortgage options available. One such option is the 3 2 1 buydown mortgage.

Understanding the 3 2 1 Buydown Mortgage

In this article, we will explain what a 3 2 1 buydown mortgage is and how it works. We’ll also explore the advantages and disadvantages of this type of mortgage.

What is a 3 2 1 Buydown Mortgage?

A 3 2 1 buydown mortgage is a type of mortgage where the interest rate gradually increases over time. This type of loan gets its name from how it works.

The "3" in "3-2-1" represents the first year of the loan’s term. During this year, the interest rate will be reduced by three percentage points below the current market rate.

The "2" represents the second year of the loan’s term. During this year, the interest rate will be reduced by two percentage points below market rates.

Finally, during year three and beyond, there is no reduction in interest rates (hence "1").

How Does a Buydown Work?

When you take out a traditional mortgage, your monthly payments are primarily based on the principal balance and interest rate. In contrast, with a buydown mortgage, your payments are determined by calculating what you would pay if you had a traditional fixed-rate mortgage for thirty years – even if your actual loan term is shorter.

The lender then calculates how much they would need to reduce your interest rate during each year to bring down your monthly payment to match what it would be under a traditional fixed-rate plan. This discount reduces each year until there are no further discounts by year four or five usually.

By paying more upfront to lower monthly payments initially, this type of mortgage is a buydown.

Advantages of a 3 2 1 Buydown Mortgage

Lower Monthly Payments

One of the most significant advantages of a 3 2 1 buydown mortgage is that it provides lower monthly payments in the short term. This can be especially beneficial for borrowers who are just starting out and may be working with a tight budget or have other high expenses.

More Manageable Budgeting

With reduced monthly payments, borrowers will have an easier time planning their monthly budgets. They will know exactly what their mortgage payments are going to be for the next three years, giving them more financial stability than with traditional mortgages.

Better Affordability

Lower monthly payments mean that borrowers may qualify to purchase homes they would not otherwise afford if they went with a traditional fixed-rate mortgage.

Disadvantages of a 3 2 1 Buydown Mortgage

Higher Interest Rates in Later Years

As previously mentioned, after the initial two years, there will be no further reduction in interest rates. This means that in the third year and beyond, borrowers will pay higher interest rates than those on traditional fixed-rate mortgages.

Costly Upfront Payment

To take advantage of lower initial monthly payments, borrowers must pay upfront to get into the program. This increased cost can affect your ability to make other purchases such as buying furniture or paying closing costs.

Temporary Advantages – Long-Term Commitment

A buydown mortgage provides temporary advantages; however, it is still a long-term commitment. Before deciding on such mortgages, one must calculate and see if these benefits outweigh any future risks.


In summary: A 3-2-1 buydown mortgage is an option for buyers who want lower initial costs but could pay higher rates later on during their mortgage tenure. As compared to traditional mortgages, buy-downs provide short-term financial advantages like affordable monthly payments and better budgeting.

However, the downside of higher interest rates in later years, upfront cost, and long-term commitment should be kept in mind before opting for such a mortgage. Before choosing a buydown mortgage, it’s essential to assess whether the short-term benefits outweigh future risks.


What is a 3 2 1 buydown mortgage?

A 3 2 1 buydown mortgage is a type of mortgage that offers an introductory rate that gradually increases over time.

How does the 3-2-1 buydown work?

The homeowner pays less in interest in the first three years, and then incrementally more over the next two until reaching the final interest rate on year six.

Who is a good candidate for a 3-2-1 buydown mortgage?

A buyer who wants to keep initial monthly payments low but can anticipate higher income or plans to refinance before increasing rates take effect might consider a 3-2-1 buydown.

Is there an advantage to using a 3-2-1 buydown as opposed to other loans?

One advantage of this type of loan structure is it can be easier for buyers who are unsure of their future earnings potential, as they may opt into lower payments now based on future expectations.

What are some risks associated with this type of loan?

Buyers taking out this loan need to be aware that monthly payments will increase every two years and should plan accordingly. If they do not have sufficient funds at the time when their rate goes up, they may struggle to make payments.

What is the difference between a traditional fixed-rate mortgage and a 3-2-1 buydown mortgage?

Traditional fixed-rate mortgages have stable interest rates throughout the term, while in contrast, rates increase gradually instead of immediately after closing on the home purchase with a Buydown Mortgage.

Can I choose my own starting rate or terms under this type of loan structure?

No; lenders offer very specific terms under which customers must abide when choosing this type of loan.

Can I refinance a 3-2-1 buydown mortgage?

Yes, it is possible to refinance as long as the borrower does so before the interest rates increase beyond their ability to pay.

Can buydown mortgages be used for rental properties?

Yes and no. Some lenders prohibit buydowns for investment properties, but others will offer this option to buyers who plan on renting out their homes.

Is it possible to pay off the loan early with a 3-2-1 buydown mortgage?

Yes; this type of mortgage allows homeowners to make additional payments that would apply directly towards principal balance and help them save money in interest over time if they are able to do so without penalty.

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