How to Get Rid of Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)

by Ryan Guina

When you bought your home, you may have been required to take out Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) if you didn’t make a large down payment. PMI is normally required when you borrow more than 80% of the property’s value, even if you have perfect credit. If you buy a house with less than a 20% down payment, you can expect your mortgage payment to include a monthly Private Mortgage Insurance premium.

Stop paying private mortgage insurance (PMI)

Stop paying private mortgage insurance!

The bad news is, this insurance does nothing for the buyer of the home; instead, it is designed to protect the mortgage lender in the event you don’t pay for your loan. The good news is, PMI can be removed once you’ve paid your loan down to a certain balance, so you aren’t stuck paying the PMI premiums forever.

The following tips explain the costs of PMI and how you can more quickly eliminate that expense.

The Cost of Private Mortgage Insurance

Your PMI premium will vary depending on the type of mortgage you have, and the length of time you took your loan out for.  Private Mortgage Insurance normally ranges between ½ to 1% of the total loan amount, per year.  On a $200,000 house where you put 10% down, your PMI premium will probably cost between $75 and $150 each month.

If you obtained your mortgage after 2006, your PMI premiums are tax-deductible expenses if your adjusted gross income is less than $109,000 for married couples, or $54,500 for individuals. When you receive Form 1098 from your mortgage lender at tax time, you’ll see how much you paid in Private Mortgage Insurance premiums.

How to Stop Paying Private Mortgage Insurance

In most situations, lenders must cancel PMI when you pay your mortgage to 78% of the home’s value and you are current on your monthly mortgage payments, according to The Homeowner’s Protection Act of 1998.  Before this act was created, homeowners who didn’t know they could cancel PMI would continue to pay it to lenders who didn’t remove it for them.

You can also be proactive, and request a cancellation of your PMI premiums once your mortgage reaches 80% loan-to-value ratio; instead of waiting until it reaches the required 78% for automatic cancellation under the Homeowner’s Protection Act of 1998.  You’ll need to be current on mortgage payments, not have a lien on the property or have a high-risk loan to be approved.

Additionally, if you’ve been paying your mortgage through the midpoint of your loan (15 years on a 30 year mortgage term, for example), PMI must be canceled even if you don’t meet the balance requirement of 78% of the home’s value.  This is because in some situations, the property value is decreasing as fast (or faster) as you’re paying off your mortgage.

If the value of your home has increased above your original purchase price, your loan-to-value ratio could decrease and help you meet the 80% or 78% rules that allow you to cancel your PMI.  Keep an eye on the home’s value so you know when you have the opportunity to cancel PMI.

Tip: Haven’t bought your house yet? An 80-10-10 mortgage is designed to avoid PMI from the outset. There are pros and cons to these mortgages, so be sure to read up on them before using this option.

How to Cancel PMI Faster

If the idea of paying an extra $75 to $150 a month in PMI premiums makes you sick, here’s what you can do to reach the 80% loan-to-value ratio quicker:

  • Send extra mortgage payments each month to pay your loan down faster (making biweekly mortgage payments is a great way to so this).
  • Complete home improvement projects which increase the value of your home and then have your home appraised to show it’s new value.
  • Pay your mortgage on time, every time so you can cancel at 80% loan-to-value ratio rather than waiting to reach 78%.
  • Don’t take out home equity loans or lines of credit as they reduce your property’s equity and cause you to pay PMI longer.

Remember, Private Mortgage Insurance doesn’t benefit you – it benefits the lender. So you want to get rid of it as quickly as possible. Eliminating PMI is a great way to free up some additional cash flow each month to help you reach other financial goals.

Another form of insurance we often are asked about is Mortgage Life Insurance, and whether or not it is something you should really have. Check out our post on the pros and cons of Mortgage Life Insurance for your reference!

Published or updated August 26, 2016.
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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mr. Cow

Unfortunately, my PMI has a time limit on it as well. No matter what I get the Loan to Value ratio down to I can’t get rid of it in the first 7 years.


2 Jarhead

Easiest way to get rid of PMI is to not need it in the first place whether it be by putting at least 20% down or serve honorably in the military and take out a VA loan which is backed by the VA and therefore no PMI is required.


3 Nathan Pralle

When I went to CitiMortgage’s website (who holds my mortgage, but didn’t originate it), the rules about PMI stated that the loan-to-value ratio was based upon the value of the house at time of purchase and not the present-day market value. In this case, I most definitely must keep paying my PMI payments for awhile. However, if for some reason this is wrong and it’s based on current market value, I am almost positive a reassessment will bring the value above the 78% and I can be rid of it.

Is there law on this or does it vary by PMI policy to PMI policy?


4 Ryan

Nathan, I’m not sure if there is a law that states the mortgage company can determine how the house is valued for PMI purposes (if there wasn’t, then mortgage companies would invariably create valuation methods to maintain PMI as long as possible). The only law I am aware of is he Homeowner’s Protection Act of 1998, which automatically cancels PMI once you pay your mortgage down to the 78% level.

That said, you may have a couple options. First, find a copy of your original mortgage and see what the rules are for PMI. I’m not sure if Citi has to honor the terms of the original mortgage, but I would think they should. Next, contact Citi and see what they have to say about it. It can’t hurt to ask. Finally, contact a real estate lawyer and ask if there are any specific rules or laws that would prevent you from canceling PMI in your situation. Most real estate lawyers are happy to answer a question or two over the phone, but be prepared to hire them if you need them to do any paperwork or file anything on your behalf. Best of luck!


5 Joann Quintana

Like Nathan, my husband and I have a mortgage with CitiMortgage and we carry PMI insurance. Since November of 2009, which is when we reached the 78% LTV, I have been contacting CitiMortgage to cancel our PMI insurance. I have had no success. I am curreently at 73% LTV, due to the fact that I pay extra towards the principal every month without fail. I don’t understand how banks get bailouts, but these institutions are getting away with ripping people off by continuing to take money each month from which they are not entitled to any longer. The homeowner’s protection act of 1998 is a law. Is CitiMortgage above the law?


6 Ryan

Joann, try escalating your complaint within Citi (ask to speak with a manager, take his or her name down, and/or send a certified letter to the head of Citi Mortgage). If that fails, try filing a complaint with your state attorney’s general office. That will certainly get their attention.


7 Sherri

I too have a mortgage through CitiMortage. I have repeatedly asked to have the PMI removed. I just received a letter stating that my current LTV is 56.70%, but they are still requiring an appraisal – is that right? Their letter also says that if there has been any decrease in the value from the original appraised value at the time of closing, that the loan will not be eligible for the cancellation of PMI regardless of the current LTV based on the new appraisal. Think I need to refinance!


8 Kelly

I am at 77% LTV. Although I do have a rough payment history, we have paid extra and made last 3 payments on time. Mortgage company insists I do not qualify for auto removal due to prior late payments. Are they right?


9 Michael

I think what was not clearly stated is what kind of home improvements will qualify for the appraisal. Bank, WF for example, absolutely does NOT care about home market value for the PMI removal purpose! Even if WF appraiser would appraise your home according to the favorable market condition (bringing home owner to better than 0.78 LTV), but at the same time home owner will fail to show structural ADDITIONs to your home with all the receipts, PMI will NOT be removed. Replacing roof, tile, etc that brings the value of the home up is NOT considered as home improvement by the WF! Home living space improvements is a very gray area that is defined only by your bank. What only black and white is additions to your home: pool, garage, fence etc…


10 Evan


I too have PMI with a 5 year minimum. Have you ever heard of a bank dropping it before the contracted minimum? If so – whats the best way to approach that?



11 daniel

Unfortunately, my PMI has a time limit on it as well. No matter what I get the Loan to Value ratio down to I can’t get rid of it in the first 9 years.


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