Private mortgage insurance (PMI) can help you buy a home without a big down payment, but it’s expensive in the long run. An online PMI calculator reveals that a $300,000 house purchased with a $10,000 down payment can stick you with an extra $277 in PMI payments each month. That adds up quickly: in five years, you’ll have shelled out an extra $16,620.
Fortunately, there are ways to save on PMI costs. Before you buy your dream home, consider your PMI exit strategy to save big in the long run.
1. Avoid an FHA
The best way to avoid paying PMI is to make a 20 percent down payment on your home so that you don’t need it at all. Failing that, you should do your best to stay away from FHAs. Because they’re intended for riskier borrowers, you end up paying PMI for the life of the loan, regardless of how much equity you’ve built.
If you’re an otherwise well-qualified borrower looking for a low down payment option, take a look at a conventional loan. Recent changes over the last year have made it possible for borrowers to put as little as 3% down, and once you have built up enough equity (generally 22% of the loan) you can cancel the PMI.
2. Make Extra Mortgage Payments
By paying extra on your mortgage each month, you’ll be increasing your equity at a faster rate than if you just paid the minimum. Any extra payment you make goes directly to paying down your principal, and you’ll save by not owing additional interest on that portion of your mortgage. Once you owe less than 78-80% of the original value of your home, you can call your bank and request they cancel the PMI charges. The sooner you can pay down your debt, the sooner you can get rid of PMI payments.
3. Re-Financing Your Mortgage
Keep an eye on the housing market in your neighborhood and on mortgage rates from other lenders. If home values have gone up since you bought your house, you may have more equity than you think. Think of it this way: if your $300,000 home is now worth $400,000, you have an extra $100,000 in equity. If the amount you owe on your mortgage comes to under 80 percent of the new appraised value, you can refinance your mortgage to get a new loan with no PMI. Just make sure your new interest rate isn’t too high and you’ll come out ahead.
With a little planning and discipline, you can take advantage of these tips to reduce or even eliminate your PMI costs. The savings can be enormous, so it pays to crunch the numbers and get focused on the goal of kissing your PMI goodbye.