If you bought a house with a down payment of less than 20 percent, your lender required you to buy mortgage insurance. The same goes if you refinanced with less than 20 percent equity.
Private mortgage insurance is expensive, and you can remove it after you have met some conditions.
How to get rid of PMI
To remove PMI, or private mortgage insurance, you must have at least 20 percent equity in the home. You may ask the lender to cancel PMI when you have paid down the mortgage balance to 80 percent of the home’s original appraised value. When the balance drops to 78 percent, the mortgage servicer is required to eliminate PMI.
Although you can cancel private mortgage insurance, you cannot cancel Federal Housing Administration insurance. You can get rid of FHA insurance by refinancing into a non-FHA-insured loan.
Canceling PMI sooner
Here are steps you can take to cancel mortgage insurance sooner or strengthen your negotiating position:
- Refinance: If your home value has increased enough, the new lender won’t require mortgage insurance.
- Get a new appraisal: Some lenders will consider a new appraisal instead of the original sales price or appraised value when deciding whether you meet the 20 percent equity threshold. An appraisal generally costs $450 to $600. Before spending the money on an appraisal, ask the lender if this tactic will work in the specific case of your loan.
- Prepay on your loan: Even $100 a month can mean a dramatic drop in your loan balance over time.
- Remodel: Add a room or a pool to increase your home’s market value. Then ask the lender to recalculate your loan-to-value ratio using the new value figure.
What mortgage insurance is for ?
Mortgage insurance reimburses the lender if you default on your home loan. You, the borrower, pay the premiums. When sold by a company, it’s known as private mortgage insurance, or PMI. The Federal Housing Administration, a government agency, sells mortgage insurance, too.
Know your rights
By law, your lender must tell you at closing how many years and months it will take you to pay down your loan sufficiently to cancel mortgage insurance.
Mortgage servicers must give borrowers an annual statement that shows whom to call for information about canceling mortgage insurance.