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Urban and rural property
After Dismal Year, Homebuilders See Hope in 2012
Home Sales Rise to 11-Month High
Report: Foreclosures Down, But Discounts Abound
Home Sales Sunnier as Spring Buying Season Approaches
New Home Sales Dip, But Beat Expectations
Fannie Mae, Facing Deficit, Asks Fed for Another $4.5 Billion
Home Values Build for 3rd Consecutive Month
Real Home Price Recovery Not Expected Until Spring
Home Sales: Rise Reflects Steady Improvement
Economists: Housing Recovery Finally Here
Home Prices Increase in Most Major U.S. Cities
Pending Home Sales Near 6-Year High
Home Prices Rise 6.3% in October, Most in 6 Years
Housing Market 2013: Predictions of What's to Come
Housing Recovery Officially in Full Swing, Data Suggests
Can't Get a Mortgage? Here's Why
Trulia Housing Barometer: Housing Market 52% Back to Normal
Home Prices Post Best Yearly Increase Since 2006
Tom Roeser Buys Up Town's Foreclosure Stock to Keep It Thriving
Housing Is Back! Best Moves for Homebuyers
Trulia: Housing Recovery Marches on in March
Are Real Estate Commercials Skirting Realities of Homebuying?
Trulia: Housing in 'Early Stages' of Multiyear Recovery
Obama Proposes Fundamental Overhaul of U.S. Mortgage System
What is PMI?
If you're preparing to make the transition from renter to first-time homebuyer, you've undoubtedly been told by wide-eyed veterans of the homebuying process (or renters who equate homebuying with certain poverty), "Watch out for that PMI." PM what? PMI, as in Private Mortgage Insurance. It's a fact of life for homebuyers who put down less than 20 percent on their homes (and with home prices on the rise, that's most of us). From the lender's perspective, PMI is a necessary protection. For homebuyers, it's not likely to be the deciding factor that causes financial ruin; after all, you've got your principal and interest, which can make your PMI look like pocket change.

Nevertheless, first-time buyers often experience trepidation when they see that mortgage payment on paper for the first time, so the addition of a PMI isn't a welcome sight. In short, the PMI adds a weighty cherry to the top of an already overwhelming sundae.

So how exactly does PMI protect your lender? First, let it be said that PMI was designed strictly for your lender's protection and not yours. Essentially, there's nothing in the PMI for you ... except a lighter wallet.

The PMI gives lenders incentive to seek out more business—in other words, to find more homebuyers like yourself, many of whom have never bought a home before and, like you, are able to put down the bare minimum 3 percent down payment. In a sense, we can all be grateful for the PMI, because without it, if you didn't have 20 percent to put down, you'd probably be out of luck.

What lender would take the risk on a 3 percent downer?

A few factors to consider before you jump on the PMI bandwagon: First, it's not inevitable. Some lenders won't ask you to pay a PMI, so you'll want to do some comparison shopping, investigate your alternatives and discuss your options with your Realtor if you're unsure about the best route to take. If you want to make your PMI premiums tax-deductible, find a lender who will give you the option of including your PMI within the interest rate you've agreed to pay for your home loan. But with every pro, of course, there's a possible con.

If you opt for a conventional loan (versus FHA), such loans will often eliminate your PMI when you've achieved 20 percent equity. For first-time buyers, it needs to be stated that it's going to take you many, many years to reach 20 percent equity. National trends certainly indicate that most of us will move out of our homes long before we reach that mark; five to seven years is the average. But let's say you remain in your home long enough to reach that 20 percent equity milestone. If you have your PMI premiums included in your loan's interest rate, your PMI won't go away once you achieve 20 percent equity.

If you remain consistent with the national trend and either move out of your home within five to seven years or refinance it, including your PMI in your loan interest rate probably makes sense from a tax perspective. One other factor to consider: If you live in a region of the country where property values are skyrocketing and show no signs of slowing down (example: San Francisco or San Jose, Calif.), you're likely to reach 20 percent equity in a much shorter amount of time than in a market where property values are increasingly more slowly.

Homebuyers who obtained home loans either on or after July 29, 1999, have a loophole: They're entitled to the immediate cancellation of their PMIs upon their achievement of 22 percent equity. Another safeguard on your side is outlined in the Homeowners' Protection Act of 1998, which actually enables homeowners to request the cancellation of their PMIs prior to reaching 22 percent equity. Homeowners—with the exception of those with FHA loans, who are not given the opportunity to cancel their PMIs before the entire loan is paid off—may request the cancellation of their PMIs upon reach 20 percent equity.

So while the PMI isn't a welcome sight each month, you are granted some concessions in exchange for the financial inconvenience. The silver lining of this "necessary evil" is that it allows thousands of renters each year achieve the American Dream of homeownership.

  
Shopping for a Home in Winter
Secrets to a Successful Move
Saving the Best for Last
Renting to Own
New House or an Old One?
Make Them An Offer They Can't Refuse
Lifestyle Choices Affect Bottom Line
Inspecting Your Home Inspector
In Love With Two Houses?
How to Track Down Foreclosure Properties
Home-buying With Others
Five Keys to Successful Negotiation
Five Key Areas to Pay Attention to When Buying a Home
Finding a Good Home Inspector
Find the Perfect Neighborhood
Don't Overlook a Home's Potential
Do You Have Buyer's Paralysis?
Debt Reduction Not Required to Buy
Debating Between a Condo or a House
Contingencies Your Home Offer Should Include
Can You Afford to Buy a House?
Buying a Home With Loans from Family and Friends
Buyers, Get an Edge During The Busy Spring Season
Affordability Options for First-time Home Buyers
14 Things to Consider Before Buying a Home
12 Red Flags That Should Raise Concern
10 Summer Moving Tips
Experts Predict Annual Home Value Appreciation to Exceed 6 Percent in 2013
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Housing Starts Rise in July but Fall Short of Forecasts
Giants Masking Billions in Losses for Overdue Mortgages
Home Sales in July Rise to Levels Last Seen in 2009
Rise in Rates Reduces Demand for New Mortgages
Mortgage Rates Rise to Their Highest Levels in 2 Years
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Home Prices Rise in June at Slightly Slower Pace
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Home Prices Climbed 12.4 Percent in July
Mortgage Applications Rise, as Interest Rates Slip a Bit
Mortgage Rates Edge Up to Near Yearly Highs
What You Should Look for When House Hunting
What is PMI?
Trying to Buy A Diamond In The Rough?
Trouble Pulling the Trigger on Your First Home?
Title Insurance: Who Needs It?
Title Insurance
The Hidden Costs of Homeownership
The Art of House Hunting
The Appraisal Contingency
Sometimes Smaller Is Better
Signs That You're Ready to Buy
Should You Pay Discount Points?
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