What is PMI and how to get rid of it
Assuming a decent credit rating, any potential home buyer can secure a loan for a house. Why? Because these transactions are secured by a very valuable asset: the home itself. If a borrower defaults on a loan, the risk for the lender is often only the difference between the value of the home and the amount outstanding on the loan, less the amount it costs them to foreclose and resell the property.
For this reason, lenders are very wary of lending more than a certain percentage of a homes value. Traditionally, this has been 80 percent. The cushion this provides the lender helps ensure that their losses from loan defaults are kept to a minimum.
In recent years, however, it has become increasingly more common to see home buyers using down payments of 10, 5 or even 0 percent. Naturally, loaning this much presents the lenders with a lot more risk. To offset this risk, these transactions often require Private Mortgage Insurance or PMI. This supplemental policy protects the lender in case a borrower defaults on the loan, and the value of the house is lower than the loan balance.
PMI has been a large money-maker for the mortgage lenders. The amount of the insurance often $40-$50 per month for a $100,000 house is commonly rolled into the mortgage payment. Given the size of the overall payment, this additional fee is often overlooked. Homeowners continue to pay the PMI even after their loan balance has dropped below the original 80 percent threshold. This occurs naturally, of course, as the home owner pays down the principal on the loan. On a typical 30-year loan, however, it can take many years to reach that point.
Until recently lenders were under no obligation to tell home owners when they had reached a point where the PMI can be dropped. That all changed in 1999, when the Homeowners Protection Act took effect. In most cases, this law now obligates lenders to terminate the PMI when the principal balance of the loan reaches 78 percent of the original loan amount. Savvy homeowners can get off the hook a little earlier. The law stipulates that, upon request of the home owner, the PMI must be dropped when the principal amount reaches only 80 percent!
It is important to note that this law only applies to home loans whether first time or refinances that closed after July, 1999. Also certain other conditions must be met, such as being current on the loan payments. Buyers that purchased before July 1999 can also have their PMI removed, but they must initiate the process and though the lender is under no obligation to do so, most will.
Of course, there is another way that home owners equity can reach beyond the 80/20 percent ratio. Many areas of the United States have seen significant gains in the value of real estate over the past decade. In fact, certain areas have seen appreciation levels of 100 percent or more. Even those people living in areas with more modest gains may find that the value of their property has quickly grown to the point where the amount of principal they owe on their loan is less than 80 percent of the homes current value. Again, in these cases, the lenders are under no legal obligation to remove the PMI. In most cases, however, as long as the home owner has been prompt on their loan payments and dont represent an exceptional risk, the lenders will agree to remove the extra fees.
The hardest thing for most home owners to know is just when does their home equity rise above this magical 20 percent point? A certified, licensed real estate appraiser can certainly help. It is an appraisers job to know the market dynamics of their area. They know when property values have risen or declined. Many appraisers offer specific services to help customers find the value of their homes and remove PMI payments. Faced with this data, the mortgage company will most often eliminate the PMI with little trouble. The savings from dropping the PMI pays for the appraisal in a matter of months. At which time, the home owner can enjoy the savings from that point on.
For more information on PMI and the Homeowners Protection Act, try one of these links:
Cancellation of Private Mortgage Insurance: Federal Law May Save You Hundreds of Dollars Each Year
Assessment appeal services
Most localities determine your property tax burden based on an ad valorem assessment of the property's value. Sometimes, as a property owner, you get an unwanted surprise in the mail telling you your taxes are going up, and sometimes it may seem as though your assessment is too high.
There are as many different procedures for appealing assessments as there are property taxing districts, so it's important to enlist the help of a professional appraisal firm that's experienced and trained in the ins and outs of your particular jurisdiction.
Please note: It makes sense to do your own research before determining whether to go forward with a property assessment appeal, especially before you make the decision to hire a professional appraiser. However, according to the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP), we are not allowed to take "shortcuts" -- i.e., your research -- and use it on its face as part of our independent evaluation. When you hire us for an assessment appeal, you're commissioning an independent, third-party professional appraisal report. As such we do our own evaluation, beginning to end. If you're right that your property has been overvalued, an independent report such as ours will be even more persuasive than any other evidence you can marshal on your own. But it depends on our ability to do the work independently.
Sometimes, you will have a hearing on your assessment appeal and will need for the appraiser you've hired to testify on your behalf. Be assured that at SEMO Appraisal Service, LLC, we are able to professionally and persuasively testify at appeal hearings. Browse our website to learn more about our qualifications, expertise and services offered.
Buyer Appraisal Services
Maybe you feel like you don't need an "appraisal" but you'd still like some help gathering local property and sales data. We can provide low cost sales and listing reports that will guide you through the maze of raw data. Our reports help you to make an informed buying decision. We understand the complexities of buying a home and know what you are going through and will do our best to make it easier for you by giving you a high quality, professional appraisal that you can depend on!
When you order a report from us, you can expect. . . .
Homeowner Appraisal Services
Homeowners need appraisals or appraisal reviews for a variety of reasons, including a mortgage refinance, home equity loans, Pre-listing services, and PMI removal. When you order an appraisal or review from us, you can rest assured that you will get the best in professional service, courtesy, and quality.
Refinance / Home Equity
Be sure that you request us if your lender asks you for YOUR choice of appraisal firms. More than likely we are already on their "approved list", and if not we will quickly provide your lender with the necessary documentation to become approved.
For-Sale-By-Owner (FSBO) / Pre-Listing Services
It's very hard to be objective about your own home because of your emotional attachment to it. A Professional Appraiser is objective and will tell you what you need to know, not just what you want to hear. In addition to helping you set a realistic selling price so your home will attract buyers, a professional appraisal is very valuable as a negotiating tool once you have a potential buyer. It gives you something concrete to show your buyer. It's an independent third party's opinion of your home's value, and not just you saying how much your home is worth. Potential buyers know you have an emotional attachment to your home and will be far more likely to give credibility to a professional appraiser's value opinion than yours.
PMI Removal Appraisals
A popular money saver for homeowners in the last few years is to get the PMI removed from their mortgage loan, thus saving them money on their monthly payments. PMI stands for "Private Mortgage Insurance". Once your mortgage loan amount is down below 80% of the value of your home, in most cases you can apply to the lender to have the PMI removed from your loan, which will make your monthly payments go down. We are experienced in helping folks just like you rid themselves of unneeded and unwanted PMI insurance.
HOME SELLER SERVICES
If you are planning to sell your home, it might be a wise decision to make a small investment in a professional appraisal. Unless you study real estate values on a day to day basis, like a professional appraiser does, it's difficult for you to get a handle on real estate values. We aren’t talking about how much you have invested in your home, how much you paid for it, or how much you want for it. We’re talking about the true market value of your home, which could really pay off for you in the long run!
SELLING YOUR HOME FSBO
If you’re working with a real estate agent to list your property, more than likely they’ll provide you with a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) that lists selected sales in your area as one of the first steps in determining what to set as the “Listing Price". This step is vital if you're going to maximize your profit and minimize the home’s time on the market.
But even if you're working with the most experienced real estate agent, it's probably in your best interest to have an "objective" third-party's opinion of value prior to signing a Listing Agreement. And that’s where we come in. We can provide you with a pre-listing appraisal so both you and your agent have an accurate description of your home's features and a detailed analysis of the most recent and similar "comparable sales" or as they're commonly called, "Comps". In addition to helping you set a realistic selling price so your home will attract buyers, a professional appraisal can:
Many people are surprised when they find out that the market value of their home is much more than they thought, so investing in a professional appraisal actually allowed these people to receive several thousand more dollars than they thought they would when their home was sold. Others have an inflated opinion of their home's value and an appraisal helped them to realistically price their home in order for it to sell. An overpriced home will not attract buyers, which means no offers and no closing and that you have wasted valuable time, money, and efforts.
Maybe you feel like you don't need an "appraisal" but you'd still like some help gathering local property and sales data. Our reports help you to make an informed buying decision. We understand the complexities of buying a home and know what you are going through and will do our best to make it easier for you by giving you a high quality, professional appraisal that you can depend on!
When you order an appraisal report from us, you can expect. . . .
How to Prepare for an Appraisal
For homeowners, a real estate appraisal is the linchpin to buying or selling their home. It allows the property transactions to occur among the buyer, seller, real estate agent and mortgage lender.
Before an Appraiser arrives, there are a few things you should know. By law, an appraiser must be state licensed to perform appraisals prepared for federally related transactions. Also by law, you are entitled to receive a copy of the completed appraisal report from your lender.
To facilitate the appraisal process, it's beneficial to have these documents ready for the appraiser:
Once your appraiser has arrived, you do not need to accompany him or her along on the entire site inspection, but you should be available to answer questions about your property and be willing to point out any home improvements.
Here are some other suggestions:
Selling on your own
More and more homeowners today are choosing to sell their homes FSBO (For Sale By Owner) and foregoing the help of a real estate agent.Selling your home by this method can end up saving you a potential “hefty” commission (industry average is 5-7% of the home’s selling price).Plus many FSBO sellers feel that they have more control in the process of selling their home since they’re in essence making all the rules.
According to the National Association of Realtors, over 70% of all homebuyers now use the Internet to search for homes so if your house isn’t on the internet, it should be.And that’s where we can help.Using my websites’ Online Property Presentation feature, I can provide you with a great marketing tool to get your home on the web in front of potential buyers.
Here’s how it works. You order an appraisal from us via our website. Once the report is complete, I can publish a summary page of the appraisal to my website (with your permission, of course). A unique webpage URL is created for your property address that you use in all aspects of marketing your home to potential buyers. Your webpage is displayed as a beautiful Flash-animated listing brochure – just like what actual real estate agents use to market their listings. Your webpage will also include:
You know your home better than anyone. And you know what features to highlight and what features you might want to downplay. So let us help you get the exposure your home deserves.