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  • Writer's pictureJeremiah McGuire

Private Mortgage Insurance or "PMI"

If you're buying a home and don't have a sizable down payment, you'll likely have to pay for Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). PMI is an insurance policy that protects the lender in case you default on your mortgage. Let's explore what private mortgage insurance is, how it works, and the costs associated with it.

What is Private Mortgage Insurance?

Private Mortgage Insurance is a type of insurance that protects lenders in the event that the borrower defaults on their mortgage payments. PMI is typically required when the borrower's down payment is less than 20% of the home's purchase price. The insurance policy is paid for by the borrower and is designed to protect the lender from financial loss in the event of foreclosure.

How Does Private Mortgage Insurance Work?

Private mortgage insurance is designed to protect the lender, not the borrower. If you default on your mortgage payments, the lender can file a claim with the PMI company to recover their losses. The PMI company will pay the lender a percentage of the outstanding loan balance, which reduces the lender's risk.

The borrower pays the premiums for PMI, which can be paid in a variety of ways. Some lenders will require a monthly PMI payment, while others may allow the borrower to pay a one-time upfront fee. The cost of PMI varies based on a number of factors, including the size of the down payment, the loan amount, and the borrower's credit score.

Costs Associated with Private Mortgage Insurance

The cost of private mortgage insurance varies, but it typically ranges from 0.3% to 1.5% of the original loan amount per year. This means that if you have a $200,000 mortgage and your PMI rate is 1%, you'll pay $2,000 per year in PMI premiums, or $167 per month.

The cost of PMI can add up over time, so it's important to understand the different ways it can be paid. Some lenders may require you to pay PMI until you reach a certain amount of equity in your home, while others may allow you to cancel PMI once you've paid off a certain percentage of your mortgage.

Additionally, some loans may offer alternatives to traditional PMI. For example, a lender may offer a piggyback loan, which allows the borrower to take out a second mortgage to cover the down payment. This can eliminate the need for PMI, but it may result in a higher overall interest rate.

Private mortgage insurance is an additional cost that borrowers should consider when purchasing a home. While it can be a valuable tool for those who don't have a sizable down payment, it's important to understand the costs associated with PMI and how it works. Before taking out a mortgage, be sure to research your options and talk to your lender about the best way to finance your home purchase.

Jeremiah L. McGuire


Memphis, TN


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