New Report: Home Loans Backed by Private Mortgage Insurance Increased 53 Percent in 2020, Allowing More Borrowers to Access Homeownership Three Times Sooner

Texas, California, Florida, Illinois, and Michigan among top states for mortgage financing with private MI

WASHINGTON — U.S. Mortgage Insurers (USMI), the association representing the nation’s leading private mortgage insurance (MI) companies, today released its annual report on mortgage financing supported by private MI at the national and state levels. The report finds that home loans backed by private MI increased 53 percent in 2020, a record-setting year for the nearly 65-year-old industry, with more than 2 million borrowers securing mortgage financing. Meanwhile, the report finds that saving for a 20 percent down payment could take potential homebuyers 21 years — three times the length of time it could take to save a 5 percent down payment. Texas, California, Florida, Illinois, and Michigan were the top five states for mortgage financing with private MI.

“Access to low down payment loans was more important than ever this past year as many homebuyers weighed other economic concerns during the pandemic. Mortgage insurance levels the playing field and provides lower- and middle-income households with access to mortgage credit, and the more than 2 million borrowers served this past year reached a new milestone for our industry,” said Lindsey Johnson, President of USMI.

Private MI has enabled over 35 million people access to affordable, low down payment mortgages, serving as a bridge for homebuyers to qualify for home financing despite putting less than 20 percent down. The latest USMI report examines the number of borrowers served, 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 20 percent versus 5 percent down payments for each state plus the District of Columbia.

Key findings from the report include:

  • It could take 21 years on average for a household earning the national median income of $68,703 to save for a 20 percent down payment (plus closing costs), for a $299,900 single-family home, the national median sales price.
  • The wait time decreases to seven years with a 5 percent down payment insured mortgage — a nearly 67 percent shorter wait time at the national level.
  • In 2020, the number of homeowners who qualified for a mortgage because of private MI reached over 2 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 private MI was $289,482.
  • The private MI industry supported $600 billion in mortgage originations in 2020. Approximately 65 percent was for new purchases while 35 percent was for refinanced loans, resulting in approximately $1.3 trillion in outstanding mortgages with active private MI coverage at year’s end.

The below table shows the top five states in which private MI was used by borrowers to purchase or refinance homes in 2020.

StateNumber of Borrowers Helped with Private MIFirst-Time Homebuyers
Texas164,73758 percent
California160,10370 percent
Florida130,80055 percent
Illinois93,97664 percent
Michigan72,64659 percent

Throughout 2020, the private MI industry worked closely with federal policymakers, industry groups, and consumer organizations to support homeowners experiencing financial hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The industry updated its guides and processes to align with the policies of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) and government-sponsored enterprises’ (GSEs), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to implement nationwide forbearance programs.

Loans backed by private MI provide protection against mortgage credit risk and are structured to protect the GSEs in the conventional mortgage market. Private MI has proven to be a reliable method for shielding the GSEs, having paid nearly $60 billion in claims since the 2008 financial crisis and housing market downturn.

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