A Quick Guide to PMI

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PMI, or private mortgage insurance, is a necessity most times. If your down payment is less than 20% of the purchase price of the home, then you’ll need to pay for this additional insurance in order to secure a loan for the home. This policy protects the lender if the borrower cannot pay the loan installments. This way, the lender knows they will not lose money in the event of default. 

Private mortgage insurance is also required if you refinance your home when it has accrued to less than 20% equity.

Here are a few other key points to remember about PMI.

Fees

The fees involved with private mortgage insurance can range based on a few factors, including the actual size of the down payment and your credit score. You can expect the cost of the insurance to be somewhere between 0.3% and 1.5% of the loan amount per year. Homebuyers can pay PMI premiums either monthly or as a large payment up front, though some policies may require the borrower to pay installments versus a lump sum.

You Can Cancel PMI

The lender will automatically cancel your PMI once the loan drops to 78% of the home’s value. For this reason, you’ll want to keep track of your payments to see how close you are to paying off your loan. When you’ve paid your loan down to 80% of the home’s original value, you may ask your lender to discontinue the insurance premium payments.

What Is The Loan-To-Value Ratio?

This ratio is the amount of mortgage debt as a percentage based on how much the home is worth. It’s calculated by the following formula:

Amount owed on the mortgage/Appraised value

If a home is worth $100,000 and the buyer owes $80,000 on the home, the loan-to-value ratio is 80%. This means the borrower can request the lender cancel the insurance.

FHA Loans Have Different Requirements

If you secure an FHA loan, they require the payment of PMI premiums for the entire life of the loan. You can’t cancel these insurance payments, but you can refinance the loan in order to get rid of the insurance. This means that you will no longer have an FHA loan.

Private mortgage insurance can be confusing, but, as a first-time homebuyer with little capital, the fees may be worth it when you’re able to secure your first home.

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Ready to Buy a House: Financial Things to Consider

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Few things are more exciting than buying a house and making it your home. Knowing when it’s the right time to buy derives from your personal circumstances, but some external elements and market realities affect when it’s right to buy too.

Here are some of the things that can affect your decision to purchase a home, and the timing to do it.

  • Interest rates. Right now, interest rates are low, making housing affordable. Keeping an eye on rates can save you money. You can get pre-approval for a mortgage that locks in a low rate, so check out the programs offered by various lenders to see which one has the most useful option for you.
  • Inventory levels. Listed homes in your area that fit your budget, and your criteria, ebb and flow. Develop a relationship with a qualified real estate market specialist to keep tabs on inventory levels, so you know when to buy.
  • Increased prices. Supply and demand drive up prices, so if prices begin to increase it may be time to step into the market. Again, your real estate agent can keep you apprised of price fluctuations in the market.
  • Income levels. You might simply be waiting for a promised raise or that bonus to plump up your down-payment cache. When that’s the case, notify your agent of your expectation and the timing so that they begin looking for you just ahead of when you’re ready to make the purchase.
  • Income tax refunds. Although using the IRS as a savings account is a poor financial strategy, sometimes, you end up with a bigger refund than you’d anticipated. When that happens, and you receive the extra funds, it might be time to make homeownership a reality.
  • Investments. When an investment gives you an unexpected return, it might be time to reinvest it into a home.

If any of these are true, you may be financially ready. When making any financial decision—especially huge ones such as buying a home—it’s essential to contemplate the reason behind your decision. What do you believe a home provides you? How does it fit into your future goals? Are you willing to tie up your funds in a non-liquid investment? Are you prepared to handle the maintenance? Do you have time for upkeep?

When you feel positive about your answers, reach out to your agent for advice, and to start looking for your new home.