What is PMI (or MIP) and how do I get rid of it?

PMI (short for ‘private mortgage insurance’) is one of those things in life that is both a curse and a blessing. If you put down less than 20 percent of the loan amount when you take out a conventional loan, you will be required to pay a monthly mortgage insurance premium (typically tacked on to your mortgage payment) to cover the lender in the event you mess up and default on the loan.

Without it, cash-poor homebuyers can’t get a mortgage.

With it, your house payments are higher, it takes a long time to get rid of (with some loans it never goes away) and it only protects the lender.

If you have an FHA-backed loan it’s called MIP for mortgage insurance premium. “MIP is required on all FHA loans, regardless of the size of your down payment,” according to Molly Grace at rocketmortgage.com.

“FHA loans require both an upfront mortgage insurance premium (UFMIP) as well as an annual premium payment, or annual MIP,” she concludes. 

Mortgage Insurance and the FHA-Backed Loan

Borrowers who were granted an FHA-backed loan prior to June 3, 2013 can get rid of this monthly headache when the loan reaches a 78 percent loan-to-value (LTV) ratio for a 15-year loan.

If you have a 30-year loan you’ll need to wait until your LTV reaches 78 percent AND you’ve been paying the premium for a minimum of 60 months, which is government-speak for five years.

Calculate your LTV by dividing your current loan balance by the current appraised value of the home. Here’s an example of how this works from the experts at bankofamerica.com:

“You currently have a loan balance of $140,000 … Your home currently appraises for $200,000. So, your loan-to-value equation would look like this:

$140,000 ÷ $200,000 = .70

Convert .70 to a percentage and that gives you a loan-to-value ratio of 70%.”

FHA borrowers who put down 10 percent on a home after June 3, 2013 must wait 11 years to have the MIP requirement terminated. If you pay less than 10 percent down – which is the beauty of the FHA loan, after all – you must continue to pay MIP for the life of the loan.

Conventional Loans and PMI

The Homeowner’s Protection Act of 1998 states that homeowners who have a conventional loan on their primary residence, purchased after July 29, 1999 can request a cancellation of PMI once they have 20 percent equity in the home.

The same law says that the lender must automatically terminate PMI on the date that the loan is scheduled to reach a 78 percent loan-to-value ratio – not based on payments made – but according to the date the loan should reach this milestone, as listed on the initial amortization schedule.

The law gives borrowers another way to realize relief from PMI by stating that the lender has to release you from the requirement when you are at the midpoint of your loan’s amortization schedule, regardless of your LTV.

Mortgage loans for medical professionals

There has been a lot of debate of late over student loan forgiveness. When it comes to these loans, it’s hard to imagine what the debt wracked up by each of 28,337 students who graduated from medical school.

Let’s face it, when it comes to student loans, these former students have a lot of debt and not a lot of provable earnings. Despite this, many want to finally settle down and purchase a home.

And, their newbie-ness in the medical field, a blank credit history or heavy student loan debt won’t stop them from getting a mortgage. Why?

Because of their potential earnings – that’s what lenders care about when it comes to new physicians, dentists, and veterinarians. They know that only 1 percent of physicians default on their mortgage – substantially fewer than the general public, at 10%, according to Ryan Inman at FinancialResidency.com.

Lenders want this business – badly – so they created the doctor loan, also known as the physician loan.

Here are a few of the offerings, which vary by the way, by lender:

  • Typically there is no or a low-down payment requirement.
  • Private mortgage insurance (PMI) is waived, even if you put down less than 20 percent of the purchase price.
  • Debt-to-income ratio restrictions are more relaxed than they are with conventional mortgages.
  • Lending limits up to $2 million.
  • Low credit score requirements.
  • All physician loan programs are available to those with a D.O. degree. “Some lenders also offer loan programs for medical professionals such as dentists, orthodontists and veterinarians with the following degrees: D.S., M.D., P.M.,V.M.,” according to Sidney Richardson at RocketMortgage.com.

Are there drawbacks to these mortgages? Yes. They are commonly not fixed-rate mortgages, but carry adjustable rates (ARM). “With an ARM, you typically pay a lower, fixed interest rate for the first few years of the loan,” explains Richardson.

“After that initial period, however, your interest rate will fluctuate and often increase,” she concludes.

Then, interest rates may be higher for this loan product than the current average mortgage rate.

If you’ve dreamt of purchasing a home and didn’t think you could at this point in your career, we urge you to speak with a lender about physician loans.