Home Buying: You Don't Have to Pay Private Mortgage Insurance or PMI

What is PMI or Private Mortgage Insurance and is it Necessary?

Private Mortgage Insurance, or PMI, is a type of insurance that insures the lender in case the buyer defaults on the loan. The lender, or bank, requires PMI when the buyer has a down payment less than 20% of the asking price of the home. Private mortgage insurance has good and bad points, and there are ways to avoid paying it without putting down the required 20%.

Private Mortgage Insurance has it's Good Points

The good point about PMI is that it lets one buy more of a house without having to save up the required 20%. Many Americans can now reach the American dream with popular 3-5% down programs. These programs are possible because of private mortgage insurance. When you purchase a home you are required to purchase traditional homeowners insurance. On top of that you are required to pay the premiums for PMI, usually in your escrow account, if you do not put at least 20% down. Private mortgage insurance does not give you additional homeowners insurance coverage, but it does give the bank insurance just incase you do not fulfill your obligations by not paying your mortgage payments.

The use of PMI has been a great tool to get more Americans into homes, but there are some downfalls.

The Downfalls of PMI

The problem with private mortgage insurance is that it raises your monthly payment and, unlike the interest on a traditional mortgage, PMI is not tax deductible. You can eventually cancel private mortgage insurance if you can prove that you owe 80% or less of your home's value. Getting your mortgage balance down to 80% of the home's value can take many years. The good news is that you can have all three: A low down payment, a low monthly payment, and NO PMI!

Next, let's review your options for avoiding PMI.