Can you get a home loan without PMI?

May 18, 2024

Understanding Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) is a type of insurance that lenders typically require when a homebuyer makes a down payment of less than 20% of the home’s value. PMI helps protect the lender in case the borrower defaults on their mortgage. While PMI can be an added expense for homebuyers, it can also make it possible for them to purchase a home with a smaller down payment.

The cost of PMI can vary depending on the loan amount, the size of the down payment, the borrower’s credit score, and other factors. In general, the higher the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio, the higher the PMI premium. Lenders may also require higher PMI rates for riskier borrowers, such as those with lower credit scores.

Avoiding PMI: Options for Homebuyers

For some homebuyers, the added cost of PMI can be a significant barrier to homeownership. Fortunately, there are several ways to avoid PMI without sacrificing the dream of homeownership.
One option is to make a down payment of at least 20% of the value of the home. This allows the homebuyer to avoid PMI altogether. While a 20% down payment can be a significant amount of money, it can also help the homebuyer build equity in their home more quickly and potentially qualify for a lower interest rate.

Another option is to use a piggyback loan, also known as an 80-10-10 or 80-15-5 loan. With this type of loan, the homebuyer takes out a primary mortgage for 80% of the home’s value, a second mortgage for 10% or 15%, and makes a down payment of 10% or 5%. This can help the homebuyer avoid PMI while still maintaining a relatively low down payment.

Alternatives to Traditional PMI

In addition to avoiding PMI altogether, there are some alternative options that homebuyers can consider.

One alternative is to use a Lender Paid Mortgage Insurance (LPMI) program. With LPMI, the lender pays the PMI premium, and in exchange, the homebuyer typically has a higher interest rate on their mortgage. This can be a good option for homebuyers who want to avoid the upfront cost of PMI but are willing to pay a higher monthly payment.
Another alternative is to use a VA loan or USDA loan, which are government-backed mortgage programs that do not require PMI. These loans are available to eligible borrowers, such as military personnel or low-income individuals, and can provide a more affordable path to homeownership.

Removing PMI: When and How

In some cases, homebuyers may be able to remove PMI from their mortgage once they have built enough equity in their home. Typically, this requires the homeowner to have at least 20% equity in their home, either through price appreciation or by making additional payments to pay down the mortgage balance.

To remove PMI, the homeowner must contact their lender and request PMI removal. The lender may require an appraisal to verify the value of the home and the homeowner’s equity. Once the PMI is removed, the homeowner’s monthly mortgage payment will be reduced, providing them with additional savings.

Conclusion: Weighing the pros and cons

Deciding whether to obtain a home loan with or without PMI is a complex decision that requires careful consideration of the homebuyer’s financial situation, goals and long-term plans. While avoiding PMI can provide significant savings, it may also require a larger down payment or the use of alternative financing options.

Ultimately, the decision depends on the homebuyer’s individual circumstances and priorities. By understanding the options available and weighing the pros and cons, homebuyers can make an informed decision that aligns with their financial goals and helps them achieve the dream of homeownership.


Here are 5-7 questions and answers about getting a home loan without private mortgage insurance (PMI):

Can you get a home loan without PMI?

Yes, it is possible to get a home loan without private mortgage insurance (PMI). There are a few options for this, including:

  • Putting down at least 20% of the home’s value as a down payment. This allows you to avoid PMI entirely.
  • Choosing a loan program that does not require PMI, such as a VA loan or USDA loan.
  • Getting a piggyback loan, which involves taking out a second mortgage for the portion of the home value above 80% to avoid PMI.
  • Opting for lender-paid mortgage insurance (LPMI), which has the lender cover the cost of the insurance rather than the borrower.

What is the benefit of avoiding PMI?

The main benefit of avoiding private mortgage insurance (PMI) is that it can save you a significant amount of money over the life of your mortgage. PMI typically costs between 0.5% and 1.5% of the original loan amount per year, which can add hundreds or even thousands of dollars to your annual mortgage payments. Avoiding PMI allows you to keep more of your monthly payment going towards the principal of the loan.

What are the drawbacks of a 20% down payment?

The primary drawback of a 20% down payment is that it requires a significant upfront investment of cash. Saving up 20% of a home’s value, especially in high-cost housing markets, can be challenging and delay the timeline for purchasing a home. Additionally, having less than 20% equity in the home means the homeowner is unable to avoid PMI entirely and must either pay for it or choose an alternative option like a piggyback loan.

How do VA loans and USDA loans work for avoiding PMI?

VA loans, which are available to eligible military members and veterans, and USDA loans, which are intended for low-income borrowers in rural areas, do not require private mortgage insurance regardless of the down payment amount. Instead, these loan programs have their own mortgage insurance premiums that are typically lower than standard PMI costs.

What is a piggyback loan and how does it help avoid PMI?

A piggyback loan involves taking out two mortgages – a primary first mortgage for 80% of the home’s value and a secondary “piggyback” mortgage for the remaining 20%. This allows the borrower to avoid the need for private mortgage insurance on the primary loan, as they have at least 20% equity in the home. The tradeoff is that the piggyback loan often has a higher interest rate than the primary mortgage.