When I was a kid, one of the things that I remember about home ownership is that people would have to save up for a long period of time in order to be able to put down at least 20% of the purchase price of the home as a down payment. However, over the past 10-15 years, the practice of planning a home purchase based on when you could save up a 20% down payment has essentially become obsolete.
What Is Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)?
Because of this failure to come up with the standard down payment, more and more people began paying private mortgage insurance premiums during the real estate boom of the mid 2000s. Private mortgage insurance (or PMI) is insurance that is in place to ensure that mortgage lenders do not lose money in the case where a mortgagor is not able to repay the loan, and the full costs cannot be recovered even after a foreclosure and sale of the property.
Because of this, private mortgage insurance is usually required when the borrower is putting up less than 20% of the purchase price or appraised value of the home. The cost of your insurance will vary depending on the size of the down payment and the loan and the location of the property (like one of these retirement havens), but they typically amount to about one-half of 1 percent of the loan – which would be about $2000 a year on a $400,000 house.
PMI definitely makes sense from the lender’s perspective, since they are taking on more risk by extending a loan that is at or close to the value of the property. In some cases you will actually pay an upfront premium in addition to the ones baked into your mortgage payments.
PMI is an extra fee that can add a substantial amount to your monthly mortgage payment (especially when you consider interest, homeowner’s insurance, and taxes), and you may be required to pay this amount until the equity you have in your home reaches the twenty percent threshold.
How To Stop Paying Private Mortgage Insurance:
If you currently owe less than 80% of the value of your home and are still paying PMI, contact your mortgage company immediately for instant savings (it issupposed to be canceled automatically once you owe less than 78%). They will require proof that your equity position is stable and is more than 20%.
That “proof” will come in the form of an independent appraisal. Unfortunately, you are usually not given a choice regarding the appraiser or the total amount of the fee; but at least you get to pay for it (sometimes at a cost of $500 or more)!
If you still owe more than 80% of the value of your home, but you have enough money in savings (“enough” is relative), it may make sense to pay down your mortgage in order to stop paying these fees.
My Thoughts About PMI
To me, it doesn’t make sense to pay insurance premiums for a plan that doesn’t even cover me . I wonder how many people actually add PMI to the equation when figuring out if it’s time to buy a home. What was that? Most people don’t make any calculations when trying to buy a home? Well, then I guess they won’t mind paying an extra couple of hundred dollars (with the home prices in my state) per month in order to grab a piece of the “American dream”. Maybe you can buy a home overseas instead! 😉
Seriously, how many other types of insurance can you think of where the one paying the premium doesn’t benefit at all from the protection offered by the coverage? And to me, if a loved one benefits, then I benefit, so you can’t add any types of life insurance to that list.
If you have crunched the numbers and you can tell me that it is better for you financially to rush into buying a home with little to no down payment and paying PMI, then maybe there may be some merit to this; but as far as I can see it (in most cases that I have observed), it is a huge waste of money, and it is another cost of being financially unprepared and undisciplined!
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