Press Release: California Ranks #2 in the U.S. for Low Down Payment Mortgage Lending in 2021
Over 134,000 in the state turned to private mortgage insurance to achieve homeownership, saving for a 20% down payment could take Californians 28 years.
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 lending supported by private MI at the national and state levels. The report finds that the industry helped more than 37 million low down payment borrowers over its 65-year history to secure mortgage financing, including nearly 2 million in 2021, according to data from the government sponsored enterprises (GSEs), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. California ranked second in the nation for the third consecutive year for borrowers who benefitted the most from private MI. The report also finds it could take Californians 28 years on average to save for a 20% down payment plus closing costs, but 134,231 homeowners in the state avoided the wait by qualifying for a low down payment mortgage backed by private MI, with 72% of purchasers being first-time homebuyers. According to Fannie Mae, private MI ranks among the lowest costs associated with homeownership, with total private MI payments representing 0.5% of lifetime homeownership costs for the average purchase borrower, plus it can be canceled after a period of time.
“Access to low down payment loans was more important than ever this past year as many Californians weighed economic concerns with surging inflation and home prices skyrocketing due to severely low housing supply,” said Lindsey Johnson, President of USMI. “Through it all, the private MI industry was there to support new borrowers and current homeowners. First-time and low- to moderate-income borrowers were particularly well served during 2021, allowing them to access homeownership sooner.”
Private MI facilitates access to sustainable and affordable mortgage finance credit for millions of people who put less than 20% down on a home loan. 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 for a 5% versus 20% down payment for each state plus the District of Columbia. For many Californians, the biggest hurdle in buying a home is the 20% down payment they mistakenly believe is required for mortgage approval.
Key findings about California from the report include:
- It could take 28 years for a California household earning the state median income of $77,358 to save 20% (plus closing costs) for a $795,200 single-family home, the median sales price in the state.
- The wait time decreases to 10 years if the household purchases a home with a 5% down payment insured mortgage—a nearly 36% decrease in wait time at the state level.
- Of the Californian homeowners who secured a low down payment loan with private MI in 2021, 72% (a 2% increase from 2020) of purchase mortgages went to first-time buyers, with an average loan amount of $478,119.
The number of years to save for a down payment decreased in comparison to USMI’s past reports as the personal saving rate reached record highs during the first six months of 2021, as reported by the Federal Reserve. This was largely due to consumer spending decreasing, government stimulus checks, and an increase in unemployment insurance. According to a 2020 Congressional Research Service report, the “saving rate usually goes up when there’s a decline in general economic activity, but it can quickly fall back down when there are positive signs of growth.” The U.S. economy experienced this growth as businesses reopened during the second half of 2021, once the COVID-19 pandemic started to recede. As a result, personal saving rates resumed regular levels as consumers began spending more and saving less, while at the same time the economy experienced high inflation, limiting people’s ability to save.
“For 65 years, the private MI industry has been leveling the homebuying playing field, enabling over 37 million people access to affordable, low down payment mortgages, serving as a bridge for homebuyers to qualify for home financing despite a low down payment,” Johnson added. “The benefits private MI provides allows California homeowners to build the kind of long-term wealth and stability that comes with homeownership.”
Loans backed by private MI provide protection against mortgage credit risk and is structured to protect the GSEs in the conventional mortgage market. In 2021, the industry insured $1.4 trillion of mortgages, including $1.2 trillion of mortgages backed by the GSEs. 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.
USMI worked closely with federal policymakers, industry groups, and consumer organizations to support and advocate for low down payment homebuyers and homeowners throughout the year. The organization sent letters and released statements in support of bipartisan and bicameral legislative initiatives to make permanent the ability of homeowners to deduct MI premiums from federal income; submitted a comment letter on the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA) Request for Input (RFI) on the GSEs’ Equitable Housing Finance Plans; and joined the Black Homeownership Collaborative in calling on the Biden Administration to focus on the critical need for housing production to address the significant deficit that continues to drive up home prices across the country.
The complete report is available here and more specific information on California is available here.
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 www.usmi.org.