How Do I Get Rid of Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)?

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"How do I remove PMI?" was a question that I got.

First off, a definition. Private Mortgage Insurance, often abbreviated PMI, is an insurance policy that the bank may make you buy in order to get the loan. It is a monthly surcharge based upon a percentage of your entire principal balance. You pay for it, but the bank is the beneficiary. It doesn't make your mortgage payments if you can't, it doesn't keep your credit from being screwed up, and it doesn't even keep you from getting a 1099 for income from loan forgiveness. Net benefit to you: it gets you the loan, and nothing more, ever again.

You can avoid PMI by splitting your loan into two pieces, a first loan for 80% of the value and a second for any remainder. Yes, the rate on the second will be higher, but it will likely save you money starting immediately, not to mention that it's likely to be deductible, whereas PMI is not, in general, deductible. I do not believe that with all the loans I've ever done, I've ever seen one where PMI was preferable to splitting the loan in two, from the client's point of view. Unfortunately, right now second mortgage lenders won't fund loan to value ratios over 90% because they're the ones that lose all the money if they go south.

"With all this against mortgage insurance, why does it still happen?" you ask. This is the critical question. Before the changes regarding second mortgage lenders, it was because lenders usually pay yield spread to brokers or commission to their own loan officers based upon the amount of the first loan. Pay for a second is typically (not always) a small flat amount or zero. Your loan provider makes more money by doing it all as one loan. The loan provider wants to make more money and sticks you with the bill. Doesn't that make your heart glow with gratitude? Didn't think so. But for right now, it's because there are no second mortgages available above 90% comprehensive Loan to Value (CLTV) - and most don't want to go over 80.

You can also refinance to get rid of PMI if you have the equity. Unfortunately, this means all the costs of a refinance and triggering any prepayment penalty there may be. Not optimal, unless the rates are enough better to make it worth the cost.

Now one of the things I keep seeing about PMI is the blank admonishment "don't accept PMI!" Ladies and gentlemen, whether or not you have PMI is determined by your equity situation and loan structure. If you have a single loan over 80% of value, there will be PMI associated with the loan. End of discussion. It can be a separate charge, or it can be built into the rate, and they don't even necessarily have to tell you it's for PMI - but it will be there. If you're in a situation where PMI is needed, shopping around for the lender who doesn't charge PMI is precisely the same as shopping for a liar who will hide it in the accounting.

There are two ways PMI is collected. One is as a separate charge, supplemental to your loan. The second is as an addition to the rate.

The separate charge is never deductible (or at least it wasn't until Congress passed a law temporarily making it deductible), but is easier to remove. Most states, including California, have laws requiring the bank to remove it when a Price Opinion or appraisal say that the Loan to Value Ratio goes below 78 percent (or something similar). Depending upon your state, you may or may not be required to pay for an appraisal, a cost of approximately $400, in order to have it removed. Some states require only a price opinion, others, like California, permit the bank to require an appraisal.

Just because the law says that that the bank can require an appraisal doesn't mean that the bank will require an appraisal. If the loan to value is obviously there, they might just have someone drive by to make certain the house is still basically sound. On the other hand, if loan to value ratio is close to the line, the bank has a responsibility to its shareholders not to increase their exposure to loss unreasonably. So if you just wake up one morning with doubled property values, the bank will likely waive the appraisal. If your market is gradually increasing in value and you're watching it like a hawk and make your request the instant you think the value is there, be prepared to pay for the appraisal. Around here, with PMI on a 90 percent loan being a surcharge of about one and a quarter percent per year on a $500,000 loan, you pay for your appraisal by not having PMI in one month - if you're right. If you're wrong and the appraisal comes in lower, you're just out the money.

Suppose, instead that instead of choosing the surcharge option, you choose to have PMI built into the rate. So instead of a 6.25 percent loan rate, you have a 7.00 percent loan rate. Advantage: it's usually deductible, because it's actual interest on a home loan. Disadvantage: You have to refinance (or sell!) to get out of PMI, because the pricing is built into the loan itself as part of the contract you signed. It is to be noted that by itself, this method is usually cheaper than the monthly surcharge for precisely this reason, because in order to get rid of it you have to pay to refinance, and if there's a prepayment penalty in effect you're likely going to pay that also, and so on and so forth.

So if your loan is more than eighty percent of the value of your property, you can expect to pay PMI, although it is avoidable by splitting the loan into an 80 percent first and a second for the remainder if you can find someone willing to do it, and you're likely much better off for doing so. If you're already stuck with it, contact your lender for steps to remove it providing you think the value has increased enough. If you suspect the lender is not abiding by the law, contact your state's Department of Real Estate, although lenders not abiding by the law is both stupid and, in my experience, rare. It's usually the consumer that doesn't understand the law.

Caveat Emptor

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3 Comments

john said:

I have house worth 560000 loan 2.59000 pmi at 185 monthly how do i git rid of it. Refinancing will cost 10000 closing cost is it worth it.

Dan Melson Author Profile Page said:

Contact your lender and inform them that you believe you have the requisite equity to remove it. They will likely require an appraisal, but thats on the order or $500

If that fails, explore refinancing. If you can cut your interest rate from 6 to 4 percent, that's worth doing all on its own, even if it really does cost $10k, as it'll save you dang near $6k per year in interest alone.

Perry Fender said:

I wrote a rather lengthy article providing the legal sources and under which specifics require PMI on foreclosed properties. The info would be extremely helpful in the context of your discussion here - as yours would be helpful explaining a topic that I chose not to write about but acknowledged. They compliment one another -- please visit: http://perryfender.hubpages.com/_pfsagain/hub/Real-Estate-Appraisals-Multiple-Valuations-on-Foreclosed-Property and return a link to you in the comments section - between the two, the topic would be covered - although we have written about slightly different loan scenerios.

Please be civil. Avoid profanity - I will delete the vast majority of it, usually by deleting the entire comment. To avoid comment spam, a comments account is required. They are freely available, and you can post comments immediately. Alternatively, you may use your Type Key registration, or sign up for one (They work at most Movable Type sites) All comments made are licensed to the site, but the fact that a comment has been allowed to remain should not be taken as an endorsement from me or the site. There is no point in attempting to foster discussion if only my own viewpoint is to be permitted. If you believe you see something damaging to you or some third party, I will most likely delete it upon request.
Logical failures (straw man, ad hominem, red herring, etcetera) will be pointed out - and I hope you'll point out any such errors I make as well. If there's something you don't understand, ask.
Nonetheless, the idea of comments should be constructive. Aim them at the issue, not the individual. Consider it a challenge to make your criticism constructive. Try to be respectful. Those who make a habit of trollish behavior will be banned.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dan Melson published on January 4, 2021 7:00 AM.

Buying or Selling Subject to Existing Deeds of Trust was the previous entry in this blog.

California's Home Equity Sales Contract Act is the next entry in this blog.

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