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.

Everything You Need to Know About Mortgage Types

If buying a home is something you’re considering, you might be curious about the different types of mortgages that are available to you. After all, the interest rate on your loan could have a huge impact on your finances over time, saving you thousands of dollars.

In today’s post, I’m going to demystify the home loan by explaining the most common types of mortgages. That way, you’ll be able to approach a lender with a bit of context and knowledge to help make the best mortgage decision for you and your family.

Fixed-rate mortgages

The most common types of home loans in the United States today are fixed-rate mortgages. A fixed-rate mortgage has the benefit of stability in terms of its interest rate–year after year, or the lifetime of your loan, you know exactly what percent of interest you’re going to pay.

Fixed-rate mortgages most frequently come with repayment terms of 15 or 30 years. However, some lenders offer different repayment periods.

As with any debt, paying off a mortgage in a shorter term typically amounts to paying less interest over the lifespan of the loan. For this reason, buyers who can afford higher monthly mortgage payments often opt for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage.

If you can’t afford higher monthly payments, a 30-year loan will typically have lower mortgage payments, but at the expense of paying more interest over the life of the loan.

The 30-year option is the most often in the United States, where first-time buyers typically have too many other monthly bills to afford a high mortgage payment.

Adjustable-rate mortgages

Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) were once an ideal option for first-time buyers who could purchase a home at a very low interest rate and then refinancing once that rate was set to rise. However, after the housing crisis of 2007, trust in the housing market drastically declined.

In recent years, ARMs have begun to make a comeback. However, they currently still only account for around 5% of home loans.

Adjustable-rate mortgages come with one important advantage and one huge disadvantage over fixed-rate mortgages. The upside is the ability to borrow money for a home at a lower interest rate than other mortgage types. The down side? Your interest rate isn’t locked in for the length of the loan, meaning your rate could, in theory, rise dramatically before you sell or pay off the home. This is exactly what happened to borrowers during the subprime mortgage crisis.

Guaranteed loans

There are a number of special loan programs that have been sponsored by the government over the years. Among them are USDA rural development loans, VA loans for veterans and their spouses, and FHA loans offered by the Federal Housing Authority.

All of these loans make it easier to buy a home with little or no down payment or a credit score that’s less than perfect. That makes these options great for first-time homeowners.

What To Do Before You Refinance Your Mortgage

Refinancing your home can have many benefits. First, you’ll be able to take out money to address immediate needs in your home like improvement projects. These things can only benefit your home’s value in the long term. Before you take the leap to refinance your home, you should be sure that you’re actually ready to take this step. Knowing what you’re in for allows the entire process to go more smoothly. Read on for tip to understand more about the refinancing process and what you’ll need.

Know Your Finances

Just like when you initially purchase a home, refinancing your home will require you to have your finances in order. Take a look at your budget and needs and determine if it makes sense for you to refinance your home. For example, your employment status or distance from life goals like retirement could have a factor on the term of the loan you’re willing to take out. A 15-year mortgage may make more sense than a 30-year mortgage, but your monthly payments will also be a bit higher. You need to take all of this into consideration before you refinance. 

Your credit score will also be a factor in refinancing your home just as it was when you initially bought your house. Check your score and see if any red flags pop up. Getting these corrected earlier rather than later can help you to get a better rate on the loan. There are plenty of free services that exist online that allow you to check your credit score.   

Know The Value Of Your Home


If you know the value of your home and understand how much equity you’ve built up in the house, it will give you a better idea of your refinancing options. You can’t get more than 70% of what your home is currently worth as a cash-out refinance. If you owe more than your home is worth, you might be in a tighter financial situation than you realize. You can do plenty of things to increase the value of your home; it will just take some time. You may even consider selling your house, making a move, and starting from scratch. Financially, this could be the best option, and you could also end up with a better interest rate.

Getting your finances in order and the simple act of preparing for a home refinance could give you some insight into your financial picture after being a homeowner for some time.

Stay out of debt. Don’t open new accounts. Pay down any debt you may have. That is the standard advice for people who are trying to get in good financial standing before buying a home or refinancing a home. 

Do some research and find the best home loan refinance rates around. Then, look into your own finances and decide what’s best for you regarding refinancing your home loan.      

How to Choose the Right Mortgage Option

Buying a home represents a dream come true for many individuals. However, to transform this dream into a reality, you’ll likely need to qualify for a mortgage.

Finding the right mortgage may seem difficult, particularly for a first-time homebuyer. Fortunately, we’re here to help you make sense of all of the mortgage options at your disposal so you can select the right option based on your budget and lifestyle.

Here’s a closer look at three of the most common mortgage options for homebuyers.

1. Fixed-Rate

With a fixed-rate mortgage, there are no cost fluctuations. This means that you’ll pay the same amount each month for the duration of your mortgage, regardless of economic conditions.

For example, if you sign up for a 15- or 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, you’ll wind up paying the same amount each month until your mortgage is paid in full. In some instances, you may even be able to pay off your mortgage early without penalties.

A fixed-rate mortgage often serves as a great option for those who don’t want to worry about mortgage bills that may fluctuate over the years. Instead, this type of mortgage guarantees that you’ll be able to pay a consistent monthly amount for the life of your loan.

2. Adjustable-Rate

An adjustable-rate mortgage represents the exact opposite of its fixed-rate counterpart. The costs associated with this type of mortgage will change over time, which means you may wind up paying a fixed interest rate for the first few years of your loan and watch this rate go up a few years later.

For instance, a 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage means that your interest rate is locked in for the first five years of your loan. After this period, the interest rate will adjust annually. Therefore, a rising interest rate may force you to allocate additional funds to cover your mortgage costs in the future.

An adjustable-rate mortgage may prove to be a viable option if you plan to live in a home for only a short amount of time. Or, if you’re a college student or young professional, an adjustable-rate mortgage may help you pay less for a home now, secure your dream job and become financially stable by the time your initial interest rate period ends.

3. VA Loans

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides loans to military service members and their families. These loans are backed by the government and enable individuals to receive complete financing for a house. Thus, with a VA loan, an individual is not required to make a down payment on a house.

If you ever have concerns or questions about mortgage loans, banks and credit unions are available to help. Also, your real estate agent may be able to offer mortgage insights and tips to ensure you can secure a mortgage quickly and effortlessly.

Learn about all of the mortgage options that are available, and by doing so, you can move one step closer to buying a home that matches your budget and lifestyle.