For many Americans, the biggest hurdle in buying a home is the down payment. According to a recent report, 49% of non-homeowners stated that not having enough money for a down payment and closing costs was a major obstacle to purchasing a home. Many people also mistakenly believe lenders require a 20% down payment to qualify for mortgage financing.
Data shows that by using private mortgage insurance (MI), millions of homebuyers with down payments as low as 3% or 5% have been approved for affordable and well-underwritten mortgages.
In the past year alone, MI has helped more than 1.1 million borrowers purchase or refinance a mortgage. Nearly 60% were first-time homebuyers, and more than 40% had annual incomes below $75,000.
How MI works
In addition to the other elements of the mortgage underwriting process — such as verifying employment and determining the borrower’s ability to afford the monthly payment — lenders require borrowers to commit some of their own money before approving their mortgage loan. This is where MI entered the system more than 60 years ago, to bridge the down payment gap and help creditworthy borrowers qualify for a mortgage without large down payments.
Benefits of MI
- It helps you buy a home sooner. On average it could take 20 years for a household earning the national median income of $61,372 to save 20%, plus closing costs, for a $262,250 home, the median sales price for a single-family home. MI helps borrowers qualify with as little as 3% down.
- It is temporary, leading to lower monthly payments down the road. MI can be cancelled once 20% equity is established, either through payments or home price appreciation. Borrowers typically can cancel MI within the first five to seven years. This is not the case for the vast majority of mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration. FHA mortgage insurance premiums stay on the loan for the life of the loan.
- It provides several flexible payment options. Your lender can offer several MI product options for MI payment; the most common is paid monthly along with your mortgage until the MI cancels.
MI is a stable, cost-effective way to obtain a low down payment mortgage, and offers distinct benefits to borrowers. It’s been a cornerstone of the U.S. housing market since 1957, providing more than 30 million families with the opportunity to own homes despite financial barriers. If you are considering purchasing a home, it is important to understand your options, including your low down payment options. To learn more, visit LowDownPaymentFacts.org.