How to Get Rid of PMI

How to Get Rid of PMI

Private Mortgage Insurance, otherwise known as PMI, is a type of insurance that lenders require from home buyers who obtain loans that are more than 80% of their new home's value. In a nutshell, if home buyers can't afford a 20% down payment on a house, they are considered more at risk of defaulting on a loan, so mortgage insurance is required. PMI is designed to protect the lender from the potential default of a loan, effectively safeguarding the lender's investment.

To understand it more clearly, PMI is not an insurance that protects the homeowner, but rather the lender. This means that while it adds to the cost of the mortgage payment, it does not provide any benefit to the homeowner. This is why many homeowners look for ways to get rid of PMI as soon as possible.

In addition, the cost of PMI can be quite substantial over time. Depending on the size of the down payment and the borrower’s credit score, PMI can cost between 0.5% and 1% of the entire loan amount per year. Over the lifetime of the loan, this can add up to a significant sum.

Why Do Homeowners Want to Get Rid of PMI?

The primary reason why homeowners want to get rid of PMI is the cost. As mentioned earlier, PMI can add a significant amount to a homeowner's mortgage payment without providing any benefit to them. This additional cost can make it more difficult for homeowners to pay off their mortgage early, save for other goals, or simply enjoy their monthly income.

Moreover, unlike the interest on a mortgage, PMI payments do not come with any tax benefits. This means that homeowners cannot offset the cost of PMI through their annual tax filings. For homeowners, this is money that could be better spent on other areas such as home improvements, savings, or investments.

Lastly, the fact that PMI is designed to protect the lender and not the homeowner can be a source of frustration. Homeowners are essentially paying for a service that offers them no protection or benefits. This sense of inequity is another reason why many homeowners are motivated to get rid of PMI.

Understanding the Prerequisites for PMI Removal

Before embarking on the process of removing PMI, it is important to understand the prerequisites. The first requirement is that the homeowner must have paid down at least 20% of the home's original value. This means that if the original loan amount was $200,000, the homeowner would need to have paid down at least $40,000 before they can apply for PMI removal.

Additionally, the homeowner must have a good payment history. This means that they should not have any late or missed payments in the past year. Some lenders may also require the homeowner to provide proof that there are no other liens on the home, such as a second mortgage.

Finally, some types of loans do not allow for PMI removal at all. For instance, FHA loans require mortgage insurance for the life of the loan. In such cases, the only way to get rid of PMI is to refinance the loan with a non-FHA lender.

Step-by-step Guide on How to Get Rid of PMI

The process of getting rid of PMI involves a number of steps. The first step is to contact the lender and ask them for their specific requirements for PMI removal. As mentioned earlier, every lender may have slightly different requirements, so it's important to understand what these are before proceeding.

The second step is to determine the current loan-to-value ratio (LTV). This is calculated by dividing the current loan balance by the original value of the home. If this figure is below 80%, the homeowner may qualify for PMI removal.

The third step is to submit a formal request to the lender for PMI removal. This request should include evidence that the homeowner meets all the prerequisites for PMI removal.

Once the lender receives the request, they will typically order a home appraisal to confirm the current value of the home. If the appraisal shows that the home's value has not decreased (and the LTV is 80% or less), the lender will typically approve the request and remove the PMI from the mortgage.

Strategies to Avoid PMI in the First Place

While getting rid of PMI is a viable option for many homeowners, avoiding it in the first place can save a lot of time and money. One of the most straightforward ways to avoid PMI is to make a down payment of at least 20% when buying a home. While this may not be feasible for all home buyers, those who can afford it will save themselves the cost and hassle of PMI.

Another strategy is to take out a piggyback loan. This involves taking out two loans - a primary mortgage for 80% of the home's value, and a second loan for the remaining amount. This effectively eliminates the need for PMI, as the primary mortgage does not exceed 80% LTV.

A third strategy is to choose a lender-paid mortgage insurance (LPMI) option. With LPMI, the lender pays the PMI cost but recovers it by charging a slightly higher interest rate on the mortgage. While this still involves an extra cost, it removes the need for a separate PMI payment and can be tax-deductible.

The Role of Home Appraisal in Removing PMI

A home appraisal plays a critical role in the process of removing PMI. Since PMI is required when the loan-to-value ratio exceeds 80%, an appraisal is necessary to determine the current value of the home and the resulting LTV.

If a home's value has increased since the time of purchase, it may result in a lower LTV. In such cases, the homeowner may be able to request PMI removal sooner than anticipated.

However, it's important to note that the lender will typically order and pay for the appraisal, and the homeowner cannot use an appraisal obtained independently. Therefore, before requesting an appraisal, homeowners should feel confident that their home's value has increased or remained stable.

Legal Provisions for PMI Removal

In the United States, the Homeowners Protection Act of 1998 (HPA) provides certain rights to homeowners in relation to PMI. According to the act, lenders are required to terminate PMI automatically when the loan balance reaches 78% of the original value of the home, provided the homeowner is current on their mortgage payments.

Furthermore, the act allows homeowners to request PMI cancellation when the loan balance reaches 80% of the original value. However, homeowners must be current on their mortgage payments, have a good payment history, and may need to prove that they have no other liens on the home.

It's important for homeowners to know their rights under the HPA and to be proactive in requesting PMI cancellation when they meet the criteria. While lenders are required to cancel PMI automatically at a certain point, homeowners can potentially save money by requesting cancellation earlier.

Potential Roadblocks in PMI Removal

While the process of removing PMI is generally straightforward, homeowners may encounter several potential roadblocks. One of the most common is a decline in the home's value. If an appraisal reveals that the home's value has decreased since purchase, the LTV ratio may still be over 80%, even if the homeowner has paid down a significant portion of the loan.

Another potential roadblock is a poor payment history. Homeowners who have missed or late payments may not qualify for PMI removal, even if they meet the other requirements.

Lastly, homeowners with certain types of loans, such as FHA loans, may not be able to remove PMI at all. In such cases, the only solution may be to refinance the loan with a non-FHA lender.

Consultation with Professionals on PMI Removal

Given the complexities and potential roadblocks involved in PMI removal, homeowners may benefit from consulting with professionals. A mortgage consultant or financial advisor can provide advice tailored to the homeowner's individual circumstances and help navigate the PMI removal process.

Professionals can provide guidance on the prerequisites for PMI removal, help homeowners understand their rights under the Homeowners Protection Act, and provide strategies for avoiding PMI in the first place. They can also assist in evaluating the cost-effectiveness of PMI removal, particularly in cases where the homeowner is considering refinancing to remove PMI.


In conclusion, while PMI can add a significant cost to homeownership, there are strategies to remove it or avoid it altogether. By understanding the prerequisites for PMI removal, following the step-by-step guide, and potentially consulting with professionals, homeowners can potentially save thousands of dollars over the lifetime of their mortgage.

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