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Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) and Conventional Loans: What Borrowers Should Understand

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) and Conventional Loans: What Borrowers Should Understand

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) and Conventional Loans: What Borrowers Should Understand

When obtaining a conventional loan with a down payment of less than 20% of the purchase price, borrowers are typically required to pay for Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). PMI is an insurance policy that protects the lender in case of borrower default. Understanding how PMI works and its impact on a conventional loan is essential for borrowers. In this article, we will explore the key aspects of PMI and its implications for borrowers.

What is Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)?

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) is a type of insurance that protects lenders against losses if a borrower defaults on a mortgage loan. PMI is typically required for conventional loans when the borrower’s down payment is less than 20% of the purchase price. It allows borrowers to obtain a conventional loan with a lower down payment, providing an opportunity for homeownership without having to save a substantial upfront amount.

How Does PMI Work?

PMI serves as a safeguard for lenders, reducing their risk when lending to borrowers with less than a 20% down payment. Here’s how PMI works:

Premium Payments: Borrowers pay monthly premiums for PMI, which are added to their mortgage payment. The PMI premium amount is based on factors such as the loan amount, down payment, credit score, and loan term. The specific PMI premium rates vary among lenders and insurance providers.

Loan-to-Value (LTV) Ratio: The LTV ratio is the ratio of the loan amount to the appraised value of the property. As the borrower makes mortgage payments and the property value increases, the LTV ratio decreases. When the borrower’s equity reaches 20% of the property’s value, they may be eligible to request the cancellation of PMI.

Automatic Termination: For conventional loans, PMI automatically terminates when the borrower’s equity reaches 22% of the original property value, based on the initial amortization schedule. At this point, borrowers are no longer required to pay PMI, and it is automatically removed from their monthly mortgage payment.

Requesting PMI Cancellation: Borrowers may also have the option to request the cancellation of PMI once their equity reaches 20% of the property’s value. This can be achieved through a combination of making additional principal payments, appreciation in property value, or home improvements that increase the property’s worth. The borrower must typically demonstrate a good payment history and meet specific criteria set by the lender.

Advantages of PMI:

While PMI adds an additional cost to the monthly mortgage payment, it offers several advantages to borrowers:

Lower Down Payment: PMI allows borrowers to obtain a conventional loan with a down payment of less than 20% of the purchase price. This can make homeownership more accessible for individuals who may not have substantial savings for a larger down payment.

Potential for Earlier Homeownership: By utilizing PMI, borrowers can enter the housing market sooner without having to wait until they save a 20% down payment. This can be advantageous, particularly in competitive real estate markets or when home prices are rising.

Equity Accumulation: Even though borrowers are required to pay for PMI, they can still build equity in their homes over time. As they make mortgage payments and the property value appreciates, their equity increases. This can provide a pathway to reach the 20% equity threshold and potentially remove the PMI requirement earlier.

Considerations for Borrowers:

While PMI offers advantages, borrowers should be aware of the following considerations:

Additional Monthly Cost: PMI increases the monthly mortgage payment. It’s important for borrowers to factor in the cost of PMI when determining their budget and affordability. The specific amount of PMI can vary depending on factors such as the loan amount, down payment, credit score, and loan program.

Impact on Total Loan Cost: PMI increases the overall cost of the loan. Borrowers should consider how the added cost of PMI affects the total amount they will pay over the life of the loan. It’s important to compare the costs and benefits of different loan options to make an informed decision.

PMI Cancellation: Borrowers should be aware of the requirements and process for canceling PMI. It’s crucial to understand the criteria set by the lender and take the necessary steps to request PMI cancellation when eligible. This can help borrowers save money over the long term.


Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) allows borrowers to obtain a conventional loan with a down payment of less than 20% of the purchase price. While PMI adds an extra cost to the monthly mortgage payment, it provides an opportunity for homeownership without a substantial upfront investment. Borrowers should consider the implications of PMI, including the additional monthly cost and its impact on the total loan cost. Understanding the requirements for PMI cancellation is essential for borrowers to take advantage of the potential cost savings in the future. Consulting with a mortgage professional can provide personalized guidance on PMI and help borrowers make informed decisions when obtaining a conventional loan.

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