What Should You Know About Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)?

Introduction: What is Private Mortgage Insurance?

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) is a type of insurance policy that lenders require to protect their investment in case the borrower defaults on their mortgage loan. This insurance is designed to mitigate the risk for the lender, and it is typically required when a borrower has a down payment of less than 20% of the purchase price of a property. PMI helps to ensure that the lender can recoup the outstanding loan balance in case of default, allowing borrowers to obtain a mortgage loan with a smaller down payment.

Benefits of PMI:

  1. Lower down payment requirements: The primary benefit of PMI is that it allows borrowers to purchase a home with a smaller down payment. With PMI, borrowers can come up with a larger down payment, which can be a barrier to homeownership for many people.
  2. Access to mortgage financing: PMI also makes it possible for borrowers who may not otherwise qualify for a mortgage loan to obtain financing. This is because PMI reduces the risk for the lender and makes it more likely that they will approve the loan.
  3. Improved credit score: Your credit score can be boosted by making on-time, full mortgage payments each month, which can be useful for a variety of financial goals.

Disadvantages of PMI:

  1. Increased monthly payments: PMI can increase the monthly payment for your mortgage loan, which can be a financial burden for many borrowers.
  2. No equity buildup: PMI does not build equity in your home, which means that you are not accumulating any wealth through this insurance payment.
  3. Limited cancellation options: PMI typically can only be canceled once you have built up at least 20% equity in your home. Due to this, borrowers may find it challenging to cancel their PMI even if their financial situation gets better.

How is PMI calculated?

The cost of PMI varies depending on the size of the down payment, the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio, and the borrower’s credit score. The loan’s level of risk is calculated using the LTV ratio, which is calculated by dividing the loan amount by the property’s appraised value.

Borrowers with a higher LTV ratio are considered higher risk and will typically be required to pay a higher PMI premium. Similarly, borrowers with a lower credit score may also be required to pay a higher PMI premium, as they are considered to be at a greater risk of default.

Cancelling PMI:

PMI can be canceled when you have built enough home equity. This typically occurs when the LTV ratio is less than 80%. Borrowers can also request to have PMI canceled when their home’s value has increased and their LTV ratio has fallen below 80%.

To cancel PMI, borrowers must provide evidence to their lender that the value of their home has increased and that their LTV ratio is now below 80%. The lender will then review the request and determine if PMI can be canceled.

Factors affecting PMI

Private mortgage insurance (PMI) is an insurance policy that protects mortgage lenders from the potential default of a borrower. The borrower pays for PMI in the event that they are unable to make their mortgage payments. The factors affecting the cost and availability of PMI are complex and interrelated, including:

  1. Loan-to-Value Ratio (LTV): PMI is required when a mortgage loan-to-value (LTV) ratio is above 80%. The higher the LTV, the higher the risk to the lender and the higher the cost of PMI.
  2. Credit Score: A borrower’s credit score is a significant factor in determining the cost of PMI. A borrower with a higher credit score is considered a lower risk and may be able to secure a lower PMI rate.
  3. Loan Type: The type of mortgage loan being used also affects the cost of PMI. Conventional loans tend to have lower PMI costs than other loan types like FHA or VA.
  4. Down Payment: A higher down payment can lower the cost of PMI as it reduces the LTV and reduces the risk to the lender.
  5. Property Type: The type of property being purchased can also affect the cost of PMI. For example, properties in certain areas with a high risk of natural disasters may be more expensive to insure.
  6. Market Interest Rates: PMI costs can be affected by the current market interest rates. If rates are high, PMI costs may be lower as lenders seek to compensate for the higher cost of borrowing.
  7. Insurance Company Financial Strength: The financial stability of the insurance company offering PMI affects the cost and availability of PMI. Insurance companies with a strong financial position are more likely to offer lower PMI rates and be more readily available to provide coverage.
  8. Government Regulations: Government regulations can also impact the cost and availability of PMI. For example, regulations such as the Homeowners Protection Act of 1998 require lenders to automatically cancel PMI when the loan balance reaches 78% of the property’s original value.
  9. Borrower’s Employment Status: A borrower’s employment status can also affect the cost of PMI. Borrowers who are employed and have a stable income are considered lower risk and may be able to secure lower PMI rates.
  10. Economic Factors: The price of PMI may also be influenced by the overall state of the economy. A strong economy with low unemployment and steady growth can lead to lower PMI costs, while a struggling economy can result in higher PMI costs.

Alternatives to PMI

There are several alternatives to Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI), including:

  1. Piggyback loan: A second mortgage that is taken out in addition to the first mortgage loan is known as a piggyback loan. Enabling the borrower to put down a bigger down payment on the house helps avoid PMI.
  2. VA loan: The Department of Veterans Affairs guarantees VA loans, which are exempt from PMI requirements.
  3. USDA loan: Loans from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) are available to borrowers with low to moderate income who live in rural areas. These loans do not require PMI.
  4. 80-10-10 loan: An 80-10-10 loan involves taking out two separate loans to finance a home purchase. The first loan covers 80% of the purchase price, the second loan covers 10%, and the borrower makes a 10% down payment.
  5. High-LTV loans: Some lenders offer high-LTV loans, allowing borrowers to finance a larger portion of the home’s value without needing PMI.
  6. Lender-paid PMI: Some lenders may offer a lender-paid PMI option, where the PMI premium is included in the interest rate on the loan. This can reduce the upfront cost of PMI, but it may result in a higher overall cost of borrowing.

It’s important to consider each alternative’s pros and cons and choose the option that best fits your financial situation and goals.


In conclusion, PMI costs are influenced by a number of factors, including the loan-to-value ratio, credit score, loan type, down payment, property type, market interest rates, insurance company financial strength, government regulations, borrower’s employment status, and economic factors. To secure the best PMI rates, borrowers should work with a lender to understand their options and shop around to compare costs and coverage from different insurance providers.


What does a PMI serve as?

Private mortgage insurance, sometimes known as PMI, is something you can be required to pay for if you have a conventional loan. Like other types of mortgage insurance, PMI will protect the lender rather than you if you cease making loan payments.

How long is PMI effective?

When your mortgage debt hits 78 percent of the original purchase price or your loan-to-value (LTV) ratio falls to 78 percent, the lender or servicer must immediately discontinue PMI. You are eligible for this if you are in good standing and have not missed any mortgage payments.

What occurs to PMI funds?

The PMI price pays for insurance protection that safeguards your lender—not you—if you cannot make your loan payments on time and default. In order to recoup the money they borrowed from you, your lender may subsequently foreclose on your home and sell it at auction.

Can later cancellations of private mortgage insurance be made?

In most cases, you can request that your servicer discontinue PMI payments after the principal balance of your mortgage exceeds 80% of the home’s original value.

What advantages come with PMI?

Over the years, PMI has made homes more affordable for many Americans. It’s meant to help people who can’t afford a 20% down payment on a home. It functions by providing mortgage lenders with loan insurance in the event that a homeowner fails on the loan.

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