What is Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)?

On a conventional Bay Area mortgage, when your down payment is less than 20% of the purchase price of the home mortgage lenders usually require you get Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) to protect them in case you default on your mortgage. Sometimes you may need to pay up to 1-year’s worth of PMI premiums at closing which can cost several hundred dollars. The best way to avoid this extra expense is to make a 20% down payment, or ask about other California loan program options.

How Does Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) Work?

PMI companies write insurance policies to protect approximately the top 20% of the mortgage against default. This depends on the lender’s and investor’s requirements, the loan-to-value ratio, and the type of loan program involved. Should a default occur the lender will sell the property to liquidate the debt, and is reimbursed by the PMI company for any remaining amount up to the policy value.

How Much Does Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) Cost?

PMI costs vary.  The amount of coverage and cost is directly related to the loan to value, the credit scores, and type of property.

How is Private Mortgage Insurance Paid?

PMI fees can be paid in many ways depending on the company used:

  • Borrowers can choose to pay the 1-years premium at closing, and then an annual renewal premium is collected monthly as part of the house payment.
  • Borrowers can choose to pay no premium at closing, but add on a slightly higher premium monthly to the principal, interest, tax, and insurance payment.
  • Borrowers can also choose a slightly higher interest rate and the lender provides the coverage built into the interest rate. So the rate would be higher but there is no separate mortgage insurance premium paid.