PMI is the only type of lender protection that you can escape. Department of Veterans Affairs mortgage funding fees can’t be canceled. Neither can Federal Housing Administration mortgage insurance premiums, which are paid to the government. Lender-paid mortgage insurance is paid in full when the loan is issued, and the borrower repays it through a higher interest rate. With all of those, you must sell or refinance to get clear.
Homeowners with PMI have six options for getting rid of it.
1. Wait for automatic cancellation
You don’t have to do a thing. Eventually, your mortgage insurance will fall away. Your lender is required to cancel your PMI when either of these things happens:
- Your mortgage reaches 78% loan to value. The federal Homeowners Protection Act of 1998 requires lenders to terminate PMI, free of charge, at that loan to value ratio. To find your LTV, divide the loan balance by the original purchase price or calculate it here. For example, with a balance of $250,000 and a purchase price of $320,000, the LTV is 0.78, or 78%.)
- The mortgage hits the halfway point. Regardless of your LTV, your lender terminates your PMI automatically when the mortgage is halfway finished — in year 15 of a 30-year mortgage, for instance. That could happen before the lender’s equity reaches 78% if your mortgage has a balloon payment, an interest-only period or principal forbearance.
Lindsey Johnson, executive director of U.S. Mortgage Insurers, an industry group representing large insurers, tells borrowers to request a written copy of their PMI cancellation schedule and their lender’s requirements. Call the number on your monthly mortgage statement and do it now, she says, long before you need it. That way you’ll know when your payments are supposed to stop and can watch your progress.
By MARILYN LEWIS
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