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What is Single-Payment Mortgage Insurance?

If you buy a house with less than a 20% down payment, and finance it with a conventional loan, you are going to have to pay private mortgage insurance. PMI protects the lender against the possibility of a default. It does not protect you, the buyer, but it does give you the benefit of buying a home you might not otherwise have been able to get. Use SmartAsset’s free financial advisor matching tool to connect with a professional who can provide guidance on how to manage a mortgage within your financial plan.

Introducing Single-Payment Mortgage Insurance

The most common way for mortgage insurance to be paid is as a monthly premium rolled into your mortgage payment. Many buyers do not realize that there is also an option to pay the premium as a single lump sum upfront called single-payment mortgage insurance. Paying it upfront may end up being a significant cost saving over the life of the loan.

For a buyer with good credit scores and a 5% down payment on a $300,000 loan, the monthly PMI cost (depending on the price of the residence) is estimated to be $167.50. Paid upfront it would be $6,450. If this lump sum makes you gasp, consider the fact that after only three and a half years of monthly premiums, you would have paid over $7,000 to the PMI company.

While lenders usually allow you to remove monthly PMI once your loan reaches 78% loan to value, in this scenario you would not yet be close to this threshold if paying on a standard 30-year amortization schedule. If you have a chance to lock in a low interest rate for 30 years, single-payment mortgage insurance would allow you to get your payments as low as possible right away. You will probably never need to refinance this loan.

Another advantage to keeping your payment low through single-payment mortgage insurance is that you will have an easier time qualifying for a mortgage. Lenders use the ratio of monthly debt payments to monthly income to determine qualification, that is, how much home you can afford. Single-payment mortgage insurance results in a lower monthly payment, meaning you can probably qualify for a larger mortgage.

Why It’s Not for Everyone

What is Single-Payment Mortgage Insurance?

If you are only making a 5% down payment, you likely don’t have an extra $6,450 laying around. However, if the seller is making any concessions toward closing costs, it can be used toward the single-payment mortgage insurance. If you expect to pay down your loan more aggressively than the 30-year schedule, that would be a reason to take monthly PMI. Similarly, if you plan to make improvements to your home, you may be able to get an appraisal after a year or two and demonstrate sufficient equity to your lender to remove PMI.

Ask your loan officer to do a comparison of costs and monthly payments for you both ways. Most lenders have software that can lay out multiple loan scenarios side by side for easy comparison. Consider all the factors: how much money you have available for loan costs, what you want your monthly payment to be and how long you plan to be in the home.

Bottom Line

What is Single-Payment Mortgage Insurance?Single-payment mortgage insurance enables home buyers to pay upfront part of the future mortgage insurance premiums at closing – and at a discount – rather than financing the expense along with their mortgage payment. One advantage of this is that it lowers the buyer’s debt-to-income ratio and reduces the mortgage payment. But it’s not for everyone. It’s not for people who can’t afford a big payment at closing, and it’s probably not a great idea for someone who may sell in two or three years.

Tips on Home Buying

  • If you want some more guidance on the financial implications of buying a home, consider consulting a financial advisor. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • Use SmartAsset’s no-cost mortgage calculator to estimate your monthly mortgage payment with taxes, fees and insurance.
  • Our free mortgage rate comparison tool to compare mortgage rates from top lenders and find the one that best suits your needs.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/ceejaybrand5k, ©iStock.com/fizkes, ©iStock.com/Patrick Chu

Gregory Erich Phillips Gregory Erich Phillips has more than a dozen years of experience in the mortgage industry. He is an active mortgage loan officer and an expert resource on topics including economics, home financing and real estate trends.
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