What is Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)?
On a conventional mortgage, when your down payment is less than 20% of the purchase price of the home, mortgage lenders usually require you get Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) to protect them in case you default on your mortgage. Sometimes you may need to pay up to 1-year’s worth of PMI premiums at closing which can cost several hundred dollars. The best way to avoid this extra expense is to make a 20% down payment, or ask about other loan program options.
How Does Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) Work?
PMI companies write insurance policies to protect approximately the top 20% of the mortgage against default. This depends on the lender’s and investor’s requirements, the loan-to-value ratio, and the type of loan program involved. Should a default occur the lender will sell the property to liquidate the debt, and is reimbursed by the PMI company for any remaining amount up to the policy value.
How Much Does Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) Cost?
PMI costs vary from insurer to insurer, and from plan to plan. Example: A highly leveraged adjustable-rate mortgage requires the borrower to pay a higher premium to get coverage. Buyers with a 5% down payment can expect to pay a premium of approximately 0.78% times the annual loan amount, $92.67 monthly for a $150,000 purchase price. But the PMI premium would drop to 0.52% times the annual amount, $58.50 monthly if a 10% down payment was made.
How is Private Mortgage Insurance Paid?
PMI fees can be paid in many ways depending on the company used:
- Borrowers can choose to pay the 1-years premium at closing, and then an annual renewal premium is collected monthly as part of the house payment.
- Borrowers can choose to pay no premium at closing, but add on a slightly higher premium monthly to the principal, interest, tax, and insurance payment.
- Borrowers who want to sidestep paying PMI at closing but don’t want to increase their monthly house payment can finance a lump-sum PMI premium into their loan. Should the PMI be canceled before the loan term expires through refinancing, paying off the loan, or removal by the loan provider, the borrower may obtain the rebate of the premium.
How Does the Buyer Apply for PMI?
Typically the buyer covers the cost of PMI, but the lender is the PMI company’s client and shops for insurance on behalf of the borrower. Lenders usually deal with only a few PMI companies because they know the guidelines for those insurers.
Cancellation of Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)
The Homeowners Protection Act of 1998 established rules for automatic termination and borrower cancellation of Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for home mortgages. These protections apply to certain home mortgages signed on or after July 29, 1999 for the home purchase, initial construction, or refinance of a single-family home. It does not apply to government-insured FHA or VA loans, or to loans with lender-paid PMI.
With certain exceptions (home mortgages signed on or after July 29, 1999) your PMI must be terminated automatically when 22% of the equity of your home is reached, based on the original property value and if your mortgage payments are current. It can also be canceled at your request with certain exceptions, when you reach 20% equity, again based on the original property value, if your mortgage payments are current.
- If your loan is “high risk”
- You have not been current on your payments within the year prior to termination time or cancellation
- If you have other liens on your property
Ask your lender or mortgage servicer for information about these requirements. If you signed your mortgage before July 29, 1999 you can request to have the PMI canceled once you exceed 20% home equity. But, federal law does not require your lender or mortgage servicer to cancel the insurance.