what is a high cost home loan

A high cost home loan, also known as a high-risk mortgage, is a type of loan that comes with significant costs and fees for borrowers. It is designed for individuals with low credit scores or high levels of debt who may not qualify for conventional mortgages. High cost home loans typically have higher interest rates, stricter terms, and additional fees compared to traditional mortgages.

Understanding the Characteristics of High Cost Home Loans

High cost home loans differ from standard mortgages in several key ways. Here are the main characteristics of these loans:

  • Higher interest rates: High cost home loans usually come with higher interest rates compared to conventional mortgages. This is because lenders perceive borrowers with lower credit scores or higher debt levels as higher risk.
  • Stricter terms: Borrowers of high cost home loans often face stricter terms, such as shorter repayment periods and larger down payment requirements. These terms help mitigate the lender’s risk but can make it more challenging for borrowers to afford the loan.
  • Additional fees: In addition to higher interest rates, high cost home loans may include additional fees and charges. These fees can include loan origination fees, prepayment penalties, and mortgage insurance premiums, among others.

Determining Factors for High Cost Home Loans

Several factors contribute to a loan being classified as a high cost home loan:

  1. High annual percentage rate (APR): If the APR on a loan exceeds certain thresholds set by regulations, it may be considered a high cost home loan. These thresholds vary by jurisdiction and are put in place to protect consumers from exploitative lending practices.
  2. Points and fees: High cost home loans may be determined based on the number of points and fees charged by the lender. Points are a type of prepaid interest, while fees include charges for loan origination, credit reports, and various other services. If the cumulative total of these points and fees exceeds a certain percentage of the loan amount, the loan may be classified as high cost.
  3. Borrower’s payment capacity: Lenders evaluate a borrower’s ability to repay the loan based on their income, debt-to-income ratio, and credit history. If the borrower’s financial situation is deemed risky, the loan may be classified as high cost.
Factors Thresholds
APR Varies by jurisdiction
Points and fees Cumulative total exceeding a percentage of the loan amount
Borrower’s payment capacity Evaluation of income, debt-to-income ratio, and credit history

Benefits and Risks of High Cost Home Loans

While high cost home loans cater to borrowers who may not qualify for traditional mortgages, they come with both benefits and risks:


  • Access to homeownership: High cost home loans provide an opportunity for individuals with lower credit scores or higher debt levels to become homeowners.
  • Alternative financing: For those who cannot secure conventional mortgage loans, high cost home loans offer an alternative source of financing.


  • Higher costs: High cost home loans often come with higher interest rates and additional fees, increasing the overall cost of homeownership.
  • Financial strain: Stricter terms and higher payments can put a strain on borrowers’ finances, making it challenging to meet monthly obligations.
  • Potential for foreclosure: If borrowers are unable to keep up with the loan payments, there is a higher risk of foreclosure compared to traditional mortgages.

Regulations and Protections

Various regulations are in place to help protect borrowers from predatory lending practices associated with high cost home loans. These regulations include:

  • The Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act (HOEPA): This federal law imposes additional disclosure requirements and limitations on high cost home loans to prevent abusive practices.
  • The Truth in Lending Act (TILA): TILA ensures that borrowers receive clear and accurate information about the costs and terms of their loans, including high cost home loans.
  • The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA): RESPA mandates lenders to provide borrowers with detailed information about loan terms, closing costs, and other fees.


A high cost home loan is a financing option designed for individuals with lower credit scores or higher debt levels. Although it provides access to homeownership for those who may not qualify for conventional mortgages, it comes with higher costs and stricter terms. Borrowers considering high cost home loans should carefully evaluate the financial implications and explore alternatives before making a decision.