Many of New Orleans’s would-be first time home buyers are stopped short when they come up against the need to raise the initial deposit. But just because you don’t have a hefty down payment, it needn’t mean you can’t own your own home. You can still purchase a house with less than a 20% down payment if you are otherwise qualified—that is, if you take advantage of something called private mortgage insurance (“PMI”).
The reason there is a market for private mortgage insurance in New Orleans is because lenders face an increased risk when they issue a loan with a low down payment. The simple fact is that the less money a home buyer invests in a property, the greater the possibility that he or she will choose to simply walk away. Someone with 5% equity in a home has a lot less invested than had they plunked down 20%—so if anything goes wrong, it’s proportionately easier for them to just hand the keys to the bank. Mortgage insurance covers the lender in such a default.
The cost of private mortgage insurance in New Orleans comes in the form of monthly premiums in an amount set by the PMI issuer. The amount charged depends upon the loan-to-value ratio of the property, factored in with the borrower’s credit score. The insurer guarantees the difference between a 20% down payment and the amount put down by the borrower. For instance, if the borrower puts a 15% deposit on a $200,000 home, but then defaults, the PMI provider would cover the lender for $10,000—the difference between a standard 20% down payment (here that would have been $40,000) and the amount actually made as a down payment ($30,000).
The obligation to continue making PMI policy payments ends once the principal balance on the mortgage falls below 78%, since the borrower’s stake in the property will have risen to 22%—a touch above the 20% threshold. Borrowers can reach this benchmark early by choosing pay extra on their home’s principal balance or by making improvements that result in raising the value of the property: another way to improve the LTV. That route requires a request for PMI cancellation and borrower’s payment for an updated property appraisal (the appraiser will be named by the insurer).
For prospective buyers who are otherwise fully qualified — but for one reason or another can’t supply a 20% down payment — private mortgage insurance makes homeownership possible. No matter what your financial profile, starting the pre-qualification process is your first step. Contact me to get the ball rolling this spring!
Terez Harris NOLA Real Estate Group
Keller Williams Realty New Orleans 8601 Leake Ave. New Orleans, LA 70118 504-862-0100
Each office independently owned and operated. All brokers licensed in the state of Louisiana.