You don’t need 20% down to
PMI (private mortgage
insurance) is usually required for anyone buying a home with less than 20%
Understandably, many home buyers would rather avoid PMI.
That’s because PMI is an added cost for the borrower, but it only protects the lender if you can’t pay your loan back.
Keep in mind that there
are benefits to paying private mortgage insurance, like the ability to buy a house with just 3%
But if you’d rather avoid
PMI altogether, there are multiple ways to do so — even if you don’t have a 20%
down payment. Here’s how.
Verify your low-down-payment eligibility (Aug 6th, 2020)
In this article (Skip to…)
1. Get the lender to pay for your mortgage insurance
Lender-Paid Mortgage Insurance
(LPMI) is exactly what is sounds like: the mortgage lender covers your
insurance instead of asking you to pay it out of pocket. This is one way to
Of course, there’s a
In order to pay your PMI, the lender requires you to accept a higher mortgage rate in return for no mortgage insurance. In reality, you’re still paying mortgage insurance — but it’s in the form of your interest payment.
You can get a Lender
Paid Mortgage Insurance loan with as little as 3% down. However, the rate will
be fairly high on that loan, especially if you don’t have an awesome credit
Following is an
example showing the monthly cost of LPMI versus traditional PMI with a 720
Regular PMI rate
Mortgage Payment With Regular PMI
Mortgage Payment With LPMI
Rates shown are for sample
purposes only. Payments assume a $250,000 home price in WA with a 30-year
In this case, the LPMI
does save you a bit of money each month.
However, you can never
cancel LPMI, even if you pay your mortgage down below 80% of its value.
Traditional PMI simply falls off when your loan balance hits 78% of the
original purchase price. But your LPMI rate will not drop at that point.
Consider how long you
will be in the home, whether you will eventually keep it as a rental, or other
long-term plans before accepting LPMI.
2. Use a “piggyback loan” with 10% down and no PMI
Another way to avoid PMI is by using a piggyback mortgage.
This is a unique loan structure where the buyer only needs 10% down.
But thanks to a second mortgage, which covers another 10%, the buyer effectively has a 20% down payment and does not have to get mortgage insurance.
The most common piggyback loan arrangement looks like this:
This structure is often called an “80/10/10.”
For buyers of
condominiums, 75/15/10 piggyback loans are more common, mainly because mortgage
rates are higher for condos with less than 25% down.
The second mortgage is often from the same bank or lender as the first mortgage.
But you might have to find your own second mortgage if your lender does not offer them. A credit union or local bank is a great source of these loans.
Just make sure the
second lender knows you are purchasing a home and you need the financing
completed on a specific day. Let them know your closing date and make sure they
can accommodate a quick closing if necessary.
Piggyback loans are a
little-known type of mortgage that can be a great way to avoid PMI with less
than 20% down.
Verify your piggyback loan eligibility (Aug 6th, 2020)
3. Find a low-down-payment program with no PMI
From time to time,
lenders and banks create their own programs that allow a low down payment with no PMI.
These may even have
additional perks for first-time home buyers, lower-income home buyers, or
certain professionals (like teachers and doctors).
Here are just a few
examples of no-PMI mortgage programs:
Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA) —This organization focuses on providing homeownership opportunities to low-to-moderate income individuals or those buying in underserved communities. NACA touts no down payment, no closing costs, no points, below-market rates, and best of all, no PMI. Keep in mind that this loan is only for those who fit their criteria, and it’s unclear how many qualify for the loan
Bank of America — At the time of this writing, Bank of America offers the Affordable Loan Solution mortgage. It requires just 3% down and does not require PMI. Pre-homeownership counseling is required through B of A’s network of counselors, and maximum income limits apply
CitiMortgage —This nationwide lender offers the HomeRun Mortgage which offers loans up to $510,400 (higher in high-cost areas) with 3% down and no PMI. Homeownership education is required, but these courses typically require a small time commitment
Movement Mortgage — This all-digital lender offers the “Dream to Own” mortgage, a conventional loan program with no mortgage insurance required. It also allows down payment and closing cost assistance up to 4% of the home price. A minimum credit score of 660 is required to qualify
Caliber Home Loans — If you’re buying a high-priced home, Caliber’s “Elite Access” program offers jumbo loans with just 5% down and no mortgage insurance. Currently, a jumbo loan is anything over $510,400 in most areas. Borrowers need at least a 740 FICO score to qualify, and 9 months’ worth of mortgage payments in ‘cash reserves’ (savings)
The tradeoff here is that no-PMI
loans usually have higher rates. And, they often require a higher credit score
Keep in mind that lenders can change proprietary mortgage programs at any time.
These programs are current at the time of writing, but double check with the lender to see what’s available before applying.
4. See if you qualify for a VA loan
For eligible veterans, service members, and other armed forces personnel, a VA loan is usually the best way to avoid PMI.
VA loans are available
with 0% down, and they’re the only government-backed mortgage option with no
monthly mortgage insurance payments.
There is a one-time
‘funding fee’ that borrowers have to pay to use a VA loan.
Lack of PMI and exceptionally low rates make the VA loan the best option for most eligible VA homebuyers.
Depending on your down payment and whether you’ve used a VA loan before, the funding fee is between 1.4% and 3.6% of the loan amount. But the total cost will likely be cheaper than what others pay for monthly mortgage insurance.
The lack of PMI, coupled
with exceptionally low rates, is what makes a VA loan such a great deal for
Recap video: How to avoid PMI
How much does PMI cost?
insurance, like all insurance policies, varies in cost based on your particular
risk to the bank. The smaller your down payment, for example, the higher you
should expect your PMI costs to run.
In general, PMI costs
range from 0.30% to 1.15% of your loan balance annually. On the bright side,
that means PMI costs go down each year as your loan balance gets smaller.
Your PMI rate is based
on your credit score, your equity/down payment percentage, and your loan term.
PMI costs are
typically paid monthly, divided into 12 monthly installments, then added to
your monthly mortgage statement.
Home price — $250,000Credit score — 740 (excellent)Down payment — 5% ($12,500)Loan — $237,500 30-year
fixed rate mortgagePMI cost — $103 per month
However, PMI premiums
change regularly. From state to state, and provider to provider, PMI costs will
And while PMI may be
your only option when purchasing a home, not buying a home may be an even less
The most important
part to avoiding hefty PMI payments is to get multiple quotes.
versus FHA MIP
important to note the difference between PMI (private mortgage insurance) and
MIP (mortgage insurance premium).
PMI (private mortgage insurance)
is applied to conventional loans. It can be cancelled at 80% LTV, or removed automatically
at 78% LTV MIP (mortgage insurance premium)
is applied to FHA loans. It cannot be cancelled, and will not be removed
automatically — unless the homeowner bought with more than 10% down and paid
MIP for a full 11 years
strategies above will help you avoid FHA MIP as well as private mortgage
insurance if you’re buying with a small down payment.
the strategies below — for cancelling mortgage insurance — only work with PMI
on conventional loans.
are a homeowner with an FHA loan, and you pay for mortgage insurance premium
(MIP) your only way out of it is to refinance into a conventional loan once
your mortgage reaches 80% LTV.
You can read more about how to remove MIP here.
How do I get rid of private mortgage insurance
(PMI) once I’ve purchased a home?
In general, PMI can be
canceled once your loan’s principal balance drops to 80% of your home’s
original appraised value; or, to 80% of your home’s current market value.
If you are a homeowner
who already has PMI, that’s okay. You’re making an excellent return on your
mortgage insurance investment.
Still, you may want to
get rid of your PMI, and that’s totally possible.
Using a refinance, you can eliminate any type of mortgage insurance as long as your new loan amount is 80% or less of your home’s current value.
There are restrictions
that sometimes apply, however. Depending on your lender and provider of PMI,
you may be asked to show:
A history of timely paymentsAminimum number of payments made (usually 12)Or, the absence of a second mortgage
Lenders are required
to update you annually on your PMI cancellation options.
This includes notice
of the Homeowners Protection Act of 1998, which required lenders to
automatically terminate PMI once the homeowner reaches 78% loan-to-value (LTV),
based on the lesser of the purchase price or appraised value from the date of
purchase or refinance.
Note, though, that you
must be current on your loan when you reach 78% LTV in order to have your PMI
removed. If you’re not current at that time, your PMI will be terminated
instead on the first day of the first month following the date you get current.
Protection Act of 1998 also states that homeowners are permitted to request PMI
cancellation once they 80% LTV, based on the home’s original value.
However, the lender
will not contact you when you are eligible for PMI cancellation. You will have
to contact your lender.
Check your no-PMI loan
There are plenty of ways
for a creative home buyer to get around mortgage insurance.
If you want to avoid PMI but don’t have 20% down, talk to a few lenders about your options.
Chances are, you can get
away without PMI and still have a reasonable payment thanks to today’s
ultra-low mortgage rates.
Verify your new rate (Aug 6th, 2020)