Private mortgage insurance (PMI) is yet another source of overcharges and unjustified costs that homeowners need to scrutinize. You need to know how to cancel PMI when it is no longer needed, both under lending guidelines and under a new federal law that took effect in July, 1999.

Good Intentions Gone Bad. The practice of requiring PMI is actually well-intentioned. By insuring lenders against risk, PMI helps homeowners obtain financing when they can’t afford to make the standard 20 percent down payment. The initial down payment can be as low as 5 percent, so long as the borrower is willing to pay an extra monthly or annual charge toward PMI. Although PMI makes the down payment more affordable, the homeowner does not otherwise benefit from paying the premiums – this insurance simply protects the bank, not the homeowner, from loss in case of foreclosure or default on the loan.


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