Mortgage insurance can help homebuyers obtain an affordable and competitive interest rate and more easily qualify for a loan with as little as a 3% down payment. In exchange for these better terms, the borrower pays insurance premiums every month, usually for at least several years.
what is mortgage insurance?
Mortgage insurance is a type of policy that protects a mortgage lender if a borrower defaults on their payments. While mortgage insurance is designed to protect the lender, this reduced risk allows lenders to offer loans to borrowers who might not otherwise qualify for a mortgage, let alone an affordable one.
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Lenders traditionally require a 20% down payment as a condition of qualifying for a mortgage, since a borrower who invests their own money in their home is less likely to forgo payments and allow the bank to foreclose if your home value falls or your personal finances deteriorate. both scenarios were seen during the housing crisis and recession of 2007, which highlighted the importance of mortgage insurance.
Note that conventional loan borrowers with lower down payments pay private mortgage insurance (pmi) while borrowers taking out a federal housing administration (fha)-backed loan pay a mortgage insurance premium ( mip).
types of mortgage insurance
there are four types of pmi:
- monthly paid by the borrower. Here’s what it sounds like: The borrower pays for the insurance monthly, usually as part of their mortgage payment. this is the most common type.
- single premium paid by the borrower. will make a pmi payment up front or roll it over to the mortgage.
- split premium. the borrower pays part up front and part monthly.
- the lender pays. the borrower pays indirectly through a higher interest rate or a higher mortgage origination fee.
You can choose one type of pmi over another if it would help you qualify for a larger mortgage or enjoy a lower monthly payment.
there is only one type of mip and the borrower always pays the premiums. but fha loans not only have monthly mips. they also have an upfront mortgage insurance premium of 1.75% of the base loan amount. In this way, insurance on an FHA loan resembles a split-premium PMI on a conventional loan.
how much does mortgage insurance cost?
Mortgage insurance is calculated as a percentage of your mortgage loan. The lower your credit score and the lower your down payment, the higher the lender’s risk and the higher your insurance premiums. But as your principal balance goes down, your mortgage insurance costs will go down, too.
For borrower-paid monthly private mortgage insurance, annual premiums from mgic, one of the nation’s largest mortgage insurance providers, range from 0.17% to 1.86% of the loan amount, or between $170 and $1,860 for every $100,000 borrowed, with a fixed-rate 30-year loan. that’s $35 to $372 per month on a $250,000 loan.
Some PMI policies, called “decreasing renewal,” allow your premiums to decrease each year when your principal increases enough to put you in a lower rate bracket. PMI’s other policies, called “constant renewal,” are based on your original loan amount and don’t change for the first 10 years.
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On an adjustable rate loan, your pmi payment can be as high as 2.33%. that’s $2,330 for every $100,000 borrowed, or $485 a month on a $250,000 loan. pmi is also more expensive if you get a mortgage on a second home.
The most likely scenario with an fha loan is that you will put less than 5% down on a 30-year loan of less than $625,500 and your mip rate will be 0.85% of the loan amount per year. MIPS on a 30-year loan ranges from 0.80% to 1.05% per year, or $800 to $1,050 for every $100,000 borrowed. that’s $167 to $219 per month on a $250,000 loan.
The lowest rates are given to borrowers with larger down payments, and the highest rates are given to people who borrow more than $625,500. your credit score is not a factor in mips.
how much time do you have to pay mortgage insurance?
With PMI, the borrower pays monthly insurance premiums until they have at least 20% equity in their home. if they go into foreclosure before then, the insurance company covers part of the lender’s loss.
with mips, you’ll pay as long as you have the loan, unless you pay more than 10%. in that case, you’ll pay premiums for 11 years.
private mortgage insurance vs. mortgage insurance premiums
While PMI applies to conventional mortgages with lower-than-standard down payments, you’ll likely have to pay MIP if you take out an FHA loan. this is how they work:
private mortgage insurance
This is typically required for conventional mortgage borrowers who make a 3% to 19.99% down payment. Borrowers who pay PMI are more likely to be first-time homebuyers and typically buy, not refinance. They also tend to have slightly higher debt-to-income (DTI) ratios and lower credit scores than conventional borrowers who don’t pay PMI, according to the Urban Institute.
mortgage insurance premiums
this is required for borrowers who take out an fha backed loan. The main reason for paying an MIP is that doing so might be the only way you can qualify for a home loan. The Urban Institute finds that FHA borrowers tend to have lower credit scores and more debt relative to their income than conventional borrowers paying PMI.
The percentages fluctuate from year to year, but in general, about 30% of borrowers who have a secured loan or mortgage insurance pay mip. Another 42% pay PMI, and the remaining 30% take advantage of the loan program offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which includes a lender’s guarantee but does not require PMI or MIPS.
if you get a loan backed by the us. uu. department of agriculture (usda), you will have to pay an upfront loan guarantee fee of 1% and an annual mortgage insurance fee of 0.35% of the loan amount, paid monthly.
how to get rid of mortgage insurance
The process for getting rid of mortgage insurance depends on the type you have.
For a conventional mortgage with monthly premiums paid by the borrower, you can get rid of the pmi after you build 20% of the principal by paying off your mortgage. you can also get rid of pmi if:
- your home value rises enough to give you 25% equity and you have paid pmi for at least two years
- your home value rises enough to give you a 20% principal, and you’ve already paid premiums for five years
- made extra payments toward the principal of your loan to reach 20% principal faster than you would have through payments regular monthly
You will have to ask your lender in writing to waive PMI if one of these things happens. for discharge based on an increase in home value, your lender may require an appraisal. You will also need to be current on your payments and have a good payment history for the lender to grant you discharge at this time.
The passive way to get rid of insurance is to make mortgage payments every month until you have 22% equity. Federal law requires your lender to automatically cancel PMI at this time, as long as you are current on your payments.
Another way to get rid of PMI is to refinance for a lower rate or shorter term. You won’t need pmi on the new loan if your home’s value has risen enough or if you do a cash-out refinance, which means making a balloon payment at closing to reduce your mortgage balance.
how to avoid mortgage insurance
if you’re getting an fha loan, you can’t avoid mortgage insurance. If you’re taking out a conventional loan, you’ll typically need to put down a 20% down payment to avoid insurance. You also have the option of saving a larger down payment and buying later, or buying a less expensive home.
an alternative to paying pmi on a conventional loan is to take out two mortgages instead of one. the first will cover 80% of the purchase price. the second will cover 10% to 17% of the purchase price and will have a higher interest rate. You will make an initial payment of 3% to 10% to cover the rest of the purchase price.
These loans are sometimes called 80/10/10 loans or overlay loans. don’t assume it will be less expensive to go this route; you’ll need to compare actual mortgage quotes to find out.
You can find special programs in your state or city for first-time homebuyers that can help you avoid PMI. Through certain lenders, you can also find low down payment mortgages that don’t require PMI.
For example, you may be able to make a down payment as low as 3% without paying PMI if you have a modest income or are a first-time homebuyer, thanks to down payment and cost assistance. closing. in exchange, you may be required to complete a homebuyer education program.
If you’re a qualified service member, surviving spouse, or member of the National Guard or Reserves, you may qualify for a VA loan, which charges no insurance despite allowing as little as 0% down payment.
For both personal and financial reasons, you may decide it’s worth buying a home sooner, even if it means paying PMI or MIPS. Millions of borrowers clearly think mortgage insurance is worth paying for, or they would keep renting until they qualified for a loan that didn’t require it. At the same time, insurance increases the monthly cost of home ownership for many borrowers, and wanting to avoid or minimize that cost is also a logical choice.