How Mortgage Insurance Affects Your Loan: PMI Explained, Cost, and Cancellation


Purchasing a home is a monumental milestone for many, but it often involves navigating complex financial terms and arrangements. One such aspect is mortgage insurance, particularly Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). Understanding PMI, its costs, and how it affects your loan is crucial for any prospective homeowner. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the intricacies of PMI, shedding light on its significance and providing insights into its implications for borrowers.

What is PMI?

Private Mortgage Insurance, or PMI, is a type of insurance that lenders typically require from homebuyers who make a down payment of less than 20% of the home’s purchase price. It serves as a safeguard for the lender in case the borrower defaults on their mortgage payments.

Why is PMI Required?

Lenders perceive mortgages with lower down payments as riskier investments. In the absence of a substantial down payment, borrowers may have less equity in their homes, making them more likely to default on their loans. PMI mitigates this risk by providing a layer of protection for the lender.

How Does PMI Work?

PMI functions as a premium paid by the borrower, either as a lump sum at closing or as part of the monthly mortgage payment. The cost of PMI varies depending on factors such as the loan amount, down payment size, and the borrower’s credit score.

Cost of PMI

The cost of PMI typically ranges from 0.3% to 1.5% of the original loan amount annually. For example, on a $200,000 loan, PMI could cost anywhere from $600 to $3,000 per year, or $50 to $250 per month.

Factors Influencing PMI Costs

Several factors influence the cost of PMI:

  1. Loan Amount: The higher the loan amount, the higher the PMI premium.
  2. Down Payment Size: A larger down payment reduces the loan amount and, consequently, the PMI premium.
  3. Credit Score: Borrowers with higher credit scores generally qualify for lower PMI rates.
  4. Type of Mortgage: Different types of mortgages may have varying PMI requirements and costs.

Cancellation of PMI

While PMI offers benefits to lenders, it’s an additional expense for borrowers. Fortunately, borrowers can typically request the cancellation of PMI once they have accumulated sufficient equity in their homes. The Homeowners Protection Act (HPA) provides guidelines for PMI cancellation, which generally include:

  1. Automatic Termination: Once the borrower’s equity in the home reaches 22% of the original purchase price (based on the initial amortization schedule), the lender must automatically terminate PMI.
  2. Request for Cancellation: Borrowers can request the cancellation of PMI once their equity reaches 20% of the home’s current appraised value. However, certain criteria, such as a good payment history and no subordinate liens on the property, may need to be met.
  3. Final Termination: Even if the borrower does not request cancellation, the lender must terminate PMI once the borrower’s equity reaches 78% of the original purchase price.

Implications of PMI

While PMI enables borrowers to purchase homes with smaller down payments, it’s essential to consider its implications:

  1. Increased Monthly Payments: PMI adds to the borrower’s monthly mortgage payments, increasing the overall cost of homeownership.
  2. Impact on Affordability: PMI may affect the borrower’s ability to afford a home, as higher monthly payments could strain their finances.
  3. Long-Term Costs: Over the life of the loan, PMI can amount to a significant sum. Borrowers should weigh the cost of PMI against the benefits of homeownership with a smaller down payment.
  4. Credit Score Considerations: Maintaining a good credit score is crucial for securing favorable PMI rates. Borrowers with lower credit scores may face higher PMI premiums, further increasing the cost of borrowing.


PMI plays a significant role in the homebuying process, particularly for borrowers with smaller down payments. While it offers lenders protection against default, it’s essential for borrowers to understand its costs and implications. By familiarizing themselves with PMI requirements, costs, and cancellation procedures, prospective homeowners can make informed decisions and navigate the path to homeownership with confidence.

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