Press Release: New Report Finds Low Down Payment Mortgage Lending Increased in 2019, Meanwhile Saving for a 20 Percent Down Payment Could Take 21 Years

June 22, 2020

WASHINGTON — U.S. Mortgage Insurers (USMI), the association representing the nation’s leading private mortgage insurance (MI) companies, today released its annual state-by-state report on low down payment mortgage lending. The report finds the number of low down payment loans backed by private MI increased 22.9 percent in 2019; meanwhile saving for a 20 percent down payment may take potential homebuyers 21 years to save — three times the length of time it could take to save a 5 percent down payment. USMI also found that the top five states for low down payment home financing with private MI were Texas, California, Florida, Illinois, and Ohio.

“Last year, over 1.3 million homeowners purchased a home or refinanced an existing mortgage with less than a 20 percent down payment using private mortgage insurance,” said Lindsey Johnson, president of USMI. “Given the current economic environment and the desire of many people to keep more cash on-hand, low down payment loans are more important than ever. Loans backed by private MI are a great option as a time-tested means for accessing homeownership sooner while still providing credit risk protection and stability to the U.S. housing system.”

The report examines the number of borrowers helped, the percentage of borrowers who were first-time homebuyers, average loan amounts, and average FICO credit scores. USMI also calculates the number of years to save a 20 percent versus a 5 percent down payment for each state plus the District of Columbia.

Key findings from the report:

  • It could take 21 years on average for a household earning the national median income of $63,179 to save for a 20 percent down payment (plus closing costs), for a $274,600 single-family home, the national median sales price.
  • The wait time decreases to 7 years with a 5 percent down payment insured mortgage — a nearly 67 percent shorter wait time at the national level.
  • In 2019, the number of homeowners who qualified for a mortgage because of private MI reached over 1.3 million, nearly 60 percent of purchase mortgages went to first-time homebuyers, and more than 40 percent had annual incomes below $75,000. The average loan amount purchased or refinanced with MI was $269,072.
  • Over the last five years, the role of private MI in the low down payment sector increased from 34.8 percent of the insured market in 2015 to 44.7 percent in 2019.

The below table shows the top five states in which MI was used by borrowers to purchase or refinance homes in 2019.

State Number of Borrowers Helped with Private MI First-Time Homebuyers
Texas 105,158 56 percent
California 103,120 68 percent
Florida 88,360 55 percent
Illinois 58,654 64 percent
Ohio 51,167 59 percent

Private MI serves as a bridge for creditworthy homebuyers to qualify for home financing despite a low down payment. It provides protection against mortgage default credit risk and is structured to protect the government sponsored enterprises (GSEs), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, in the conventional mortgage market.

The complete report is available here, along with fact sheets for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.


U.S. Mortgage Insurers (USMI) is dedicated to a housing finance system backed by private capital that enables access to housing finance for borrowers while protecting taxpayers. Mortgage insurance offers an effective way to make mortgage credit available to more people. USMI is ready to help build the future of homeownership. Learn more at