Posts Tagged ‘Mortgage’

Home Buying Power Remains In Motion Depsite Rising Mortgage Rates

November 30, 2018

Home Buying Power Remains In Motion Depsite Rising Mortgage RatesThe real estate market does not occupy a space outside the laws of physics. As Sir Isaac Newton so aptly theorized, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” When applying the English physicist’s Third Law to today’s rising mortgage rates, anticipating the reaction can be valuable information if you are planning to buy or sell a home or commercial property.

At first blush, residential home buyers and commercial property investors might expect the “opposite” reaction to impact buying power negatively. The initial data might lead many to believe that premise.

How Home Buyers Reacted To Rate Hikes

According to Realtor.com, the average cost to American mortgage holders increased by 15.8 percent from Sept. 2017 to Sept. 2018. In dollars, that totaled about $223, reportedly from $1,413 to $1,636 when considered against the median home at $294,900. That so-called reaction seems to indicate a loss of buying power for everyday homeowners.

Naturally, these increases were higher in top real estate markets with New York at $545 increase and Seattle at $533 where the median home costs $529,900 and $550,045 respectively. The top 20 housing markets incurred a total 68 percent of the increases year-over-year. Compounding the reaction to rising rates, many pundits are claiming the Fed’s rate hikes are creating stock market volatility.

All of these numbers seem to indicate a gloomy opposite reaction to mortgage rate increases. Or do they?

Real Estate Market Remains In Motion

Much of that thinking stems from looking at increased costs as if they somehow prohibit home buyers from making purchases. But the very fact that Americans are purchasing homes and paying somewhat higher monthly mortgage premiums indicates people enjoy the required buying power. Yes, rates have increased since the Great Recession, but that was always the plan.  

Keep in mind that Newton has a few other applicable laws of physics as well. For example, “A body in motion remains in motion.” The Fed’s decision to finally raise rates was held back by a sluggish recovery. Today’s robust economy has prompted the long overdue interest rate hikes, but they are still quite low.

If, for example, mortgage rate increases resulted in a stagnant housing or commercial real estate market, that might be considered an adverse reaction. However, single-family homes and investment properties are in high demand.

That should indicate that the booming economy has improved buying power ahead of mortgage rate increases. Simply put, Americans seem to be ahead in the real estate game.

For everyday families interested in starter homes, homeowners eyeing a more substantial property or commercial investors looking to get into the market, a smart equal and opposite reaction to rate increases may be to get in quickly and enjoy today’s low rates before the next planned increase.

Be sure to consult with your trusted mortgage professional for your best financing options.

Advertisements

Mortgage Challenges For Self-Employed Home Buyers

November 28, 2018

Mortgage Challenges For Self-Employed Home BuyersIt’s no secret that mortgage lending institutions look favorably on steady paychecks and positive debt-to-income ratios. That can leave many self-employed prospective home buyers feeling anxious about getting approved for a mortgage. But just like the 9-to-5ers who get regular paychecks, self-employed people earning a good living can get approved with a little due diligence.

The primary concern of mortgage lenders is not necessarily where your revenue comes from, it’s confidence that you can meet the monthly obligations. A lender probably wouldn’t see a significant difference between someone who was paid every two weeks and another paid monthly. Why should a self-employed earner be any different? While there are differences, that doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing.

Self-Employed Mortgage Applicants Face ‘Different’ Scrutiny

When reviewing a self-employed person’s mortgage application, the lender can expand their consideration to items related to your business. Factors such as stability, longevity, location, and viability are issues that can come into play.

This type of review mirrors that of steady paycheck earners in terms of length of employment, history of layoffs and other potential revenue setbacks. There really isn’t a higher standard for self-employed mortgage applicants. You enjoy a different professional life, and the process reflects those differences. That being said, there are a number of things you can do to put your best foot forward toward mortgage approval.

Strengthen Your Self-Employed Mortgage Application

First and foremost, every mortgage applicant must be able to demonstrate an ability to meet the monthly payments on paper. There is no way around the debt-to-income ratio. And although many self-employed people exercise some lifestyle flexibility in terms of tax deductions, your numbers have to prove you can take on a mortgage. That being said, there are important items you may want to consider when applying for a home loan.

  • Revenue Stability: Volatile swings in revenue are not generally persuasive. Lenders tend to like steady and positive growth reflected in your business and personal earnings.
  • Tax Returns Matter: This can be particularly problematic for people who find creatively legal ways to make revenue tax exempt. Home offices and company cars can lower your taxable income, but they also reduce your ability to pay the mortgage, at least on paper. Plan ahead by strategically filing strong earned-revenue tax returns.
  • Consistency Matters: There are a few ways to demonstrate consistency. It can be level monthly earnings or multiple years of tax returns in the same business. Your income may only be considered if it fluctuates in a way that frightens lenders.
  • Good Credit: Some cash-oriented people tend to discount the value of credit scores. The adage that “cash is king” may apply to the down payment, but a poor credit history can hurt your chances with lenders. Think “credit is king” when applying for a home loan.

Being self-employed does not mean you are at a strategic disadvantage when applying for a mortgage. But keep in mind that the home loan review can be slightly different. As always, your best next step would be to consult with your trusted home mortgage professional to go over your personal situation.

Real Estate Crowdfunding Investment Is Trending

October 30, 2018

Real Estate Crowdfunding Investment Is TrendingAlthough the real estate market is currently booming, the last housing bubble burst remains relatively fresh in investors’ minds and that has many taking a long look at crowdfunding.

One of the lessons that came out of the burst and ensuing Great Recession was that investors were blind to where their money went. If you watched the Academy Award-winning film “The Big Short,” then you at least understand Hollywood’s hyperbolic explanation of the subprime mortgage crisis. You may be asking: what does this have to do with real estate crowdfunding real investing? Well, everything.

Among the key reasons that the financial collapse occurred was the fact that investors had no clue what was in the AAA collateralized debt obligations (CDOs). Most people didn’t know what was in them and others simply did not care. At the end of the day, Americans lost massive amounts of wealth because they were not hands-on about investing.

That’s a primary reason why real estate crowdfunding platforms are trending. Crowdfunded real estate investments tend to be more of an open book. Consider the transparency differences between crowdfunding and a real estate investment trust (REIT).

Transparency: Crowdfunding Or REIT

Let’s assume that you are not particularly keen on buying an investment property and becoming a landlord. Although renting yourself has its benefits, it can also be labor intensive at times. That being said, wealth-building alternatives such as REITs and crowdfunding present opportunities that require less effort.

REITs tend to be the more hands-off than crowdfunding. That’s because REITs are generally traded funds. Dating back to 1971, the FTSE Nareit REIT index reportedly yielded a return of 9.72 percent. Some REIT investments do quite well in specific sectors such as self-storage and office space among others.

But REITs can be widely diversified, and some have non-real estate assets embedded in them. An REIT with hundreds of moving parts can be onerous to track. That makes them feel a lot like the CDOs. This is not to imply that REITs are a scam like those CDOs. It’s just that crowdfunding investments are more clear.

When investors opt for crowdfunded real estate investments, it falls on their shoulders to select specific properties for their portfolio. Unlike an REIT in which you just buy in and someone else manages the entire fund, crowdfund investors pick real estate options one at a time. In many ways, it is like becoming a landlord, just with someone else doing the legwork. At the end of the day, there’s less need for transparency because you picked all the assets yourself.

Why Consider Real Estate Crowdfunding?

Besides not having to do the heavy lifting, real estate crowdfunding generally avoids much of the volatility of the market-driven REITs and stocks. Everyday people are not investing the market per se, just the select properties you feel confident about. Also, the IRS reportedly allows investors to deduct depreciation.

But what makes real estate crowdfunding increasingly popular is that it allows people to invest directly into tangible properties without having to take on landlord responsibilities. Simply put, you know what you are buying.   

Checking your credit and becoming pre-approved are important first steps for most home purchases. It is important to discuss other factors, including seasoning of funds, when considering options like crowdfunding. These are all steps your trusted home mortgage professional can help you navigate. 

What To Know About Specialty Mortgages

October 16, 2018

What To Know About Specialty MortgagesRecent medical school graduates, saddled by high student loan debt, sometimes have a hard time qualifying for a first mortgage. Now, however, a growing number of lenders will consider future earnings potential of high earners in the medical profession as a way to offset high debt ratios. But specialty mortgages for young physicians aren’t the only unique loans available today.

Nationwide, there are a number of unique programs designed to help first-time buyers qualify for a mortgage loan. While some target specific professions, others are open to a wider range of applicants. They are definitely worth exploring if you’re interested in buying a home, but are not able to qualify for a standard home loan.

Here are some of the better known, widely-available options:

Good Neighbor Next Door

A HUD-sponsored program, this not-so-well-known option is available to firefighters and law enforcement officers, emergency medical technicians and teachers. The loans provide a discount of up to 50 percent of the asking price in select zones in the country known as revitalization areas. One stipulation is that the borrower must agree to live in the home for at least three years.

VA Loans — Zero Down

For anyone who has served in the military, and certain authorized civilian employees of the government, the zero down VA loan is one of the best specialty mortgages available.

Home Path

Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac programs offered to low and moderate-income families also provide guidance and home-ownership information that can be invaluable for first-time borrowers. The education programs are specifically designed to address the common misconceptions about buying as well as providing education about property maintenance and financial responsibility.

Energy-Efficient Mortgage (EEM)

This specialty mortgage allows homebuyers to add green features to a home without making a larger down payment or paying a higher interest rate. The cost of energy-efficient improvements is simply rolled into the primary FHA or VA mortgage. It can be a cost-effective, simple way to add desirable improvements as well as value to a home.

FHA Rehabilitation Program

If a fixer-upper seems like the way to go for your specific situation, the FHA 203(k) program offers a loan option that might be a good fit. Basically, this mortgage is based on the value of the home after improvements are completed, and carries a down payment requirement as low as three percent. The funds needed for rehabilitation are included in the primary loan.

Native American Direct Loan

Essentially a VA loan for Native American veterans, this mortgage program is for homes on federal trust lands; it is a zero down 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with a low interest rate.

State And Municipal Programs

Many states and cities have grants or specialty programs available. It is always worth checking with local jurisdictions to what is offered that you might qualify for.

Interest Only Or Extended Term

Two other types of mortgage that are available to serve special needs borrowers are interest only loans and mortgages with terms up to 40 years.

If you think these might be of interest, be sure to ask for specifics from your trusted mortgage broker or lender.

 

 

 

 

U.S. Wage Increases Could Help Home Buyers

October 12, 2018

U.S. Wage Increases Could Help Home BuyersThe struggle to achieve the American homeownership dream often feels like it happens in a vacuum. Everyday people work hard, save money and polish up their credit to get a low mortgage rate.

But there are powerful forces at work that are far beyond each person’s control. And until recently, the gap between American wage growth and rising home prices was widening. According to data coming out of the U.S. Department of Labor, unemployment recently hit a 49-year low and wages are enjoying the greatest uptick in nearly a decade. That is good news for prospective home buyers.

American Wages On The Rise

The 2018 economic news has seemed like one long greatest hits album. Historic-low unemployment for African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans has spurred confidence among these groups and the national unemployment has been steadily under 4-percent. The stock markets are booming, and the GDP growth has been impressive.

But there has been some frustration over stubborn wages that haven’t kept pace with other metrics. A report following stagnant salaries in February pointed to no slow down between rising home prices and wallowing pay rates. The growth rate was reportedly a modest 0.1 percent gain in February and that put Americans behind the curve in terms of buying homes.

But numbers coming out of the second quarter jobs report point to a 10-year high wage increase. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported wages are rising as employers compete to fill positions and the 12-month increase stands at 2.9 percent through August.

These are key numbers that may put a smile on potential home buyers’ faces.

  • Wages rose 0.5 percent in the second quarter of 2018.
  • Through August, wages rose 2.9 percent over the previous 12-month period.
  • Private industry compensation increased by 2.9 percent.
  • Government compensation increased by 2.3 percent, down from 2.6 in 2017.
  • Sales jobs gained by 3.5 percent.
  • Transportation jobs increased by 3.4 percent.

Experts are also claiming that setbacks from hurricanes likely blocked wage growth from topping the 2.9 high in 2009.

Where The Housing Market Stands

There’s little doubt that the surging economy put a higher number of Americans in position to purchase homes. However, inventory has remained well behind demand and that created a seller’s market with rising listing prices. But home prices are coming within reach for more people in 2018 and possibly 2019 market.

Since bottoming out in 2102, today’s home prices reportedly stand at about 6 percent higher than they were at their 2006 peak. That is not necessarily an indication that another housing bubble exists. Rather, the uptick in home prices is a natural reaction to an inventory shortage and economic growth.

The optimistic news for prospective home buyers is that wage growth appears to be gaining on home costs. As the gap closes, it’s likely that more and more people will be financially able to secure the American Dream of owning a home.

If you are in the market for a new home, contact your trusted home mortgage professional to start the pre-approval process.

Best Things To Do Now To Get Your Finances Mortgage Ready

October 4, 2018

Best Things To Do Now To Get Your Finances Mortgage ReadyYou probably already know that qualifying for a mortgage can be the biggest hurdle — aside from actually finding that dream property — along the path to home ownership.

Rather than agonizing about it, however, there are some positive actions you can take in advance to help you realize your dream.

Take A Close Look At Your Budget

If you don’t currently operate with a comprehensive household budget, get started now to analyze your income and monitor your spending habits. There’s no better way to prepare for home ownership than by being realistic about how you spend your money. If you don’t have a regular savings program, or if you’re constantly short on cash prior to the next payday, take steps to remedy the problem. Plan for the future by getting the present in check.

Gather Employment And Earnings Records

Mortgage lenders want to see stability and commitment. Finding and organize your employment records to show a consistent earnings pattern and, hopefully, a record of growth, both in terms of income and responsibility. Simplify the task of gathering required documents by collecting all records in a binder or notebook that can easily be copies when it’s time to submit them to a lender. It’s a confidence-building step as well.

Organize Your Banking Records

Lenders will not only want to see employment records, but they will require copies of all bank and investment accounts as well. Again, by being organized and getting a handle on your dollar inflow and outflow, you’ll gain insights into your individual spending habits and make the job easier for a mortgage specialist.

Make Copies Of Your Tax Returns

Tax returns confirm and validate all the other financial information that you will be required to supply. Typically, returns for the past two or three years will be required. If you own a small business or have income in addition to that from paid employment, make copies of those records as well.

Put A Halt To Spending

Perhaps the best way to demonstrate your serious intent to purchase — and pay for — a new home is by curtailing your spending on impulse purchases and expensive entertainment. This is not the time to buy a new car, book an exotic vacation, purchase major electronics or even home furnishings, or commit to time payments of any sort. Frugality should become your mantra in the months leading up to loan qualification.

Monitor Your Credit Cards

If your credit rating is within acceptable limits, do what you can to make all payments on time, pay down balances, minimize new purchases and demonstrate your continuing ability to “live within your means.” Do not apply for new credit cards, no matter how tempting the offers, because increased account activity can adversely affect your FICO score. In addition, if you have a blip on your credit report, do what you can to repair it prior to making a mortgage loan application, or be prepared to explain the circumstances, in detail and in writing.

Applying for a loan need not be scary; understanding the financial reality, however, is a great benefit.

Contact your trusted home mortgage professional who will be able to assist you in organizing your documents and aligning you with your best financing options.

Is A Reverse Mortgage Right For You?

September 19, 2018

Is A Reverse Mortgage Right For YouImagine the bank depositing monthly premiums into your account instead of you writing a mortgage check. That’s basically how a reverse mortgage works.  

Traditional mortgages involve people paying down the interest and principal on a home loan. The goal is generally to pay off the property and cruise through retirement without that monthly installment eating at your budget. With your home paid off, those previously allotted finances can be used to relax and enjoy your retirement to the fullest. That’s the best-case scenario anyway.

But financial life has changed significantly over the past half-century. The formula for economic security has been chipped away by rising health care costs, tax increases, and other complications. Working hard and paying off your family home may no longer equal financial flexibility later in life. The valued elders in everyday American communities may require enhanced resources and the reverse mortgage has been a viable option for many.

How A Reverse Mortgage Works

The product was created to allow homeowners who are 62 and older to convert their home equity into cash payments. Rather than you paying the bank, the roles are reversed and the lender basically buys out your equity by paying you in monthly installments.  

Homeowners are required to stay up to date on things such as local property taxes, association fees and insurance. The lender receives reimbursement for the equity purchase when the home sells at the conclusion of the agreement. What was once money going out each much makes a full swing to cash coming into the home. That can be a remarkable financial boon.

Types Of Reverse Mortgages

The reverse mortgage products on the market can be broken down into three basic types. The overwhelming majority are federally-insured home equity conversion mortgages.

Industry insiders often refer to these products as HECMs and they are supported by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. They reportedly comprise upwards of 90 percent of reverse mortgages. Other types include private loans and those with a single purpose. For example, a qualified homeowner may secure a reverse mortgage to make a necessary home improvement. State agencies and nonprofits often back these to help low-income families through adversity.

Benefits Of A Reverse Mortgage

When people discover that their pension, 401(k) and savings won’t necessarily carry them through a comfortable retirement, selling the family home and downsizing emerges as one of the solutions. But reverse mortgages can offer an alternative by providing the following benefits.

  • Steady Home Life: Reverse mortgages allow homeowners to stay in their home and receive payments on the equity rather than sell, move and squirrel away the profit. The key benefit is remaining in the family home that is rich with memories.
  • Relieve Burden: The increased costs of taxes, insurance, utilities and other living expenses may eat away at the financial relief gained by paying off a home. Reverse mortgages infuse elders’ budgets and help overcome financial shortfalls.
  • Eliminate Mortgage: For those who still have a monthly mortgage payment, a reverse mortgage can pay off the outstanding balance. The product allows homeowners to subtract money owed and still receive monthly installments. That can be a substantial financial swing.

Reverse mortgages can be an excellent tool to improve your quality of life during retirement. However, it’s important to have a realistic long-term financial plan in place.

If you are considering a reverse mortgage, speak with an experienced mortgage professional about options that best meet your needs.

What To Ask About How Loan Application Data Is Kept Private

September 12, 2018

What To Ask About How Loan Application Data Is Kept PrivateAfter hackers breached Equifax and stole vital financial records of 145 million Americans, people have a right to be afraid of disclosing personal information. That’s why it’s imperative that lending institutions to do everything in their power to protect your privacy.

When a prospective home buyer submits a loan application, defining information such as date of birth, home address, social security number, credit cards, bank accounts, and pay stubs are included. Basically, everything a hacker needs to penetrate an individual’s financial world is disclosed on a loan application.

If you are applying for a mortgage, get answers to these and other questions before handing over information. Hackers are too skilled at breaking into computer systems and the financial risk is too high to take any chances.

Does The Lender Take Submissions Via Email?

With the flurry of high profile email hacks making headlines, it may surprise borrowers that some lending institutions continue to take data via email.

Some estimates say that upwards of 70 percent of lending institutions routinely use email during the application process. When an applicant doesn’t have a bank account or credit card number handy, some lenders will take it electronically to complete the process. This is a major misstep.

Despite efforts to protect email, it continues to be a doormat for hackers to breach systems and steal data.

Does The Lender Use Encryption Software?

Although there is no perfect method to protect online data, many companies enlist the help of high-level IT personnel to maximize security. One of the better standards is the use of encryption.

When files are encrypted, the data enjoys two-tier protection. First, the hacker would need to breach the system to lift financial and personal information. Even if the internet criminal manages to steal data, they will be tasked with decoding it.

Breaking encryption software acts as a strong protection and future deterrent. Hackers tend to go after the low-hanging fruit. Ask about encryption protocols when applying for a loan.

Does The Lender Share Information?

The days of lenders sharing and selling personal information without consent are over. Under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, banks must provide applicants with a disclosure form that states information sharing policies.

Don’t be startled that the form lists third parties who will review your information. Banks often reach out to businesses in their network when making a determination about loan approval or rejection. Nothing happens in a vacuum so to speak.

But take the time to review this form carefully. If you do not feel comfortable with some of the outfits on the list, trust your instincts and walk away.

Ask About The Lender’s Data Protection Policy

Data protection has emerged as a significant problem. For every new protection program a hacker will find away to breach it.

Cybersecurity has grown into a major business sector and borrowers would be wise to ask about a lending institution’s policies, protocols and investment into data protection. Compare how each company addresses threats and make an informed decision about who can be entrusted with critical personal and financial information.

Your trusted mortgage professional is an essential part of your home buying experience. Be sure to ask these questions to increase your confidence in this important partnership.

4 Things You Should Know About Conventional Mortgage Rates

September 6, 2018

4 Things You Should Know About Conventional Mortgage RatesSecuring the best conventional mortgage rate possible can pose a challenge for even veteran property buyers.

Your mortgage rate will be determined by a variety of factors that pertain to your unique financial portfolio as well as economic forces. While no one has full control over all of the things that influence the process, understanding the manageable aspects can improve your negotiation position when securing a conventional mortgage.

Consider these four things that impact how conventional mortgage rates are determined.

1: Credit Is King

A borrower’s credit score has a tremendous impact on the final mortgage rate. The general rule is that the higher the score, the lower the rate. The opposite generally holds true as well.

Lenders usually require a minimum credit score of at least 620. Some will dip as low as 580. If yours falls lower, qualifying for a conventional loan may not be an option. But the good news about credit scores is that this is an element you have control over.

A credit report details your repayment history, previous loans, credit card and financial bandwidth, so to speak. Before mortgage shopping, get a copy of your credit report, clean up any blemishes and amp it up as high as possible.

2: Economic Growth Matters

The average home buyer has zero control over the economic forces that impact mortgage rates. But you do have choice about when to buy.

It’s no secret that the country is in the midst of tremendous GDP growth, historically low unemployment, improved consumer confidence and rising wages. This may seem like a good time to buy. Not necessarily when it comes to conventional mortgage rates.

Prosperity tends to create an uptick in consumers vying for home loans. That demand seems like a good thing. But the Fed often responds to high levels of consumer confidence by raising rates across the board. The theory behind this unfortunate environment stems from the idea lenders have limited resources.

It may seem counterintuitive, but weak economies often enjoy lower rates. For practical buying purposes, the U.S. economy looks like a juggernaut right now. You may want to buy sooner rather than later. Rates could go up again.

3: Price And Down Payment

Another set of facts that you have control over are the down payment amount and price of the home.

Conventional mortgages require a minimum down payment of 20 percent or higher. Like credit scores, the higher the down payment to better positioned you will be to secure the lowest possible rate. The basic concept trails back to the level of risk the lender takes by writing the loan.

For example, borrower defaults often force banks to take losses upwards of 30-60 percent of the loan. That 20 percent shows that you have real skin in the game and are less likely to stop paying the monthly premiums. Big down payments often correlate to lower mortgage rates.

Although 20 percent remains the industry standard, borrowers can secure a loan with less down. If you qualify for a conventional loan with less than 20 percent down, expect a less than desirable rate and the additional cost of private mortgage insurance. It’s kind of a double whammy.

4: Loan Types Differ

There are several variables in the loan-writing process that directly impact rates.

Most loans have terms of 15-30 years and lenders are more apt to offer lower rates on shorter term mortgages. Fixed- or adjustable-rate types are also profoundly different. Adjustable mortgages tend to enjoy lower rates in weak economies. But when the country ramps up, so does your interest rate and monthly premium.

Fixed-rate conventional mortgages are static throughout the life of the loan. The rate may be slightly higher at the closing. However, you won’t be betting against the economy.

Lastly, borrowers have the ability to buy points. This practice allows borrowers to pay more upfront costs and enjoy lower mortgage rates for the life of the loan. It’s one method some people use to overcome less-than-perfect credit scores.

As always, contact your trusted mortgage finance professional to discuss the best plan for your individual circumstances.

Does Private Mortgage Insurance Make Sense For You?

September 5, 2018

Does Private Mortgage Insurance Make Sense For YouIf you are reading this article, it’s entirely possible that you are considering buying a home. It’s also likely that you are weighing certain financial options between a sizable down payment or taking on the expense of mortgage insurance.

It’s important to understand that private mortgage insurance (PMI) helps mitigate the lender’s risk. It has little benefit to the homeowner, other than help facilitate the mortgage approval process. Home buyers would be well advised to understand the complexities of PMI because not everyone needs or can afford the additional cost.

Do You Need PMI?

PMI reduces the lending institution’s loss in the event a borrower cannot make payments. Homes that fall into foreclosure reportedly cost lenders upward of 60 percent of the remaining loan’s balance. That’s a significant amount of red ink in any ledger.

This reality prompts lenders to require buyers to purchase PMI when they cannot offset any potential loss with a 20 percent down payment or more. But keep in mind, the “20-percent” standard can be a bit misleading.

When a mortgage company considers your application, there are several factors at work beyond the size of your down payment. Banks scrutinize credit scores, repayment and bankruptcy history, as well as the types of mortgage programs that may be suitable. 

Those who are required to purchase PMI should also keep a close watch on the repayment process. Once the mortgage balance dips below 80 percent of the home value, you may be able to end the PMI requirement.

Consider someone buying a home below market value. If you purchase the property at 90-percent of its value and put 10 percent down, the 80-20 threshold may be met in the lender’s eyes more quickly. In some cases the PMI can be eliminated after meeting the 80% loan to value, usually after a period of time in the loan.

The flipside is that a lender can require PMI even after the 80-20 measure if the borrower is considered high risk or has poor credit history. Yes, it’s complicated and you would be wise to sit down with a home loan professional.

What Is PMI And What Does It Cost?

In many respects, PMI functions like many other types of insurance. The purchaser makes payments and the insurance company pays out in the event of a loss, meaning loan default.

Just like the factors that go into the PMI requirement, the method of arriving at a cost can also be complex. Down payment amount, home value, credit score and history will all be considered. Home buyers can often lower rates by increasing their initial down payment. In most cases, PMI premiums generally run between 0.3 and 1.5 percent.

There are two standard methods of paying the annual PMI. In most cases, it simply gets rolled into the monthly mortgage installments. In some instances, the sum can be paid upfront. This may open the door a crack to lower annual pricing.

The true value of PMI to a borrower remains its ability to help gain loan approval when you might otherwise be rejected. If you are considering purchasing a home, it’s important to speak with a mortgage professional about your options.