$225,000 :: 2196 DERBY, Birmingham MI, 48009

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3 beds, 1 full, 1 part baths
Home size: 1,172 sq ft
Lot Size: 6,534 sq ft
Added: 07/14/14, Last Updated: 10/30/14
Property Type: 1 Story, Residential
MLS Number: 31202848
Community: Birmingham (63192)
Tract: PEMBROOK MANOR
Status: Sold

WELL MAINTAINED BRICK RANCH IN GREAT LOCATION. HOME HAS LARGE LIVING ROOM WITH 11X7 DINING ELL. KITCHEN HAS 10X8 BREAKFAST NOOK. ALL BEDROOMS ARE SPACIOUS. HOME ALSO HAS BEAUTIFUL HARDWOOD FLOORS & FINISHED BASEMENT WITH BAR, HALF BATH & MANY STORAGE AREAS. SEWER LINE WAS REPLACED IN 2007. CHIMNEY & PORCH REBUILT. TRIM, SOFFETS, GUTTERS & DOWNSPOUTS REPLACED. 2 CAR DETACHED GARAGE & FENCED LOT.

Listed with Jack Christenson Inc.


Brought to you by Janet Hull and Thomas Bush, Real Estate One, Inc.. Call me today at 1-855-Janet-Tom, or visit my website at www.JanetandThomas.com!


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$725,000 :: 831 Lakeview, Birmingham MI, 48009

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4 beds, 2 full, 1 part baths
Home size: 2,684 sq ft
Lot Size: 7,840 sq ft
Added: 08/19/14, Last Updated: 10/29/14
Property Type: 2 Story, Residential
MLS Number: 31208385
Community: Birmingham (63192)
Tract: Greenwood
Status: Sold

Wonderfully updated Colonial in desirable “Holy Name”. Move right into this 4 bedroom beauty with formal living room with fireplace. Formal dining room, gourmet kitchen with granite that opens to large great room. Spacious master with two walk-in closets and outstanding marble bath. Very deep lot and private professionally landscaped yard with patio and built in gas fire pit. Property taxes are non-homestead.

Listed with C 21 Town & Country of Grosse


Brought to you by Janet Hull and Thomas Bush, Real Estate One, Inc.. Call me today at 1-855-Janet-Tom, or visit my website at www.JanetandThomas.com!


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$725,000 :: 831 Lakeview, Birmingham MI, 48009

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4 beds, 2 full, 1 part baths
Home size: 2,684 sq ft
Lot Size: 7,840 sq ft
Added: 08/19/14, Last Updated: 10/29/14
Property Type: 2 Story, Residential
MLS Number: 31208385
Community: Birmingham (63192)
Tract: Greenwood
Status: Sold

Wonderfully updated Colonial in desirable “Holy Name”. Move right into this 4 bedroom beauty with formal living room with fireplace. Formal dining room, gourmet kitchen with granite that opens to large great room. Spacious master with two walk-in closets and outstanding marble bath. Very deep lot and private professionally landscaped yard with patio and built in gas fire pit. Property taxes are non-homestead.

Listed with C 21 Town & Country of Grosse


Brought to you by Janet Hull and Thomas Bush, Real Estate One, Inc.. Call me today at 1-855-Janet-Tom, or visit my website at www.JanetandThomas.com!


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$2,300 :: 1115 N Old Woodward Avenue Unit #54, Birmingham MI, 48009-5438

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2 beds, 2 full baths
Home size: 1,195 sq ft
Lot Size: 0 sq ft
Added: 09/22/14, Last Updated: 10/29/14
Property Type: Condo/Apt 1st Flr, Residential
MLS Number: 31213202
Community: Birmingham (63192)
Tract: Woodward Place Condo
Status: Sold

LOCATION! LOCATION! LOCATION! GREAT CONDO LIVING IN THE HEART OF BIRMINGHAM! WALK TO DOWNTOWN MINUTES FROM SHOPPING & RESTAURANTS. CONDO HAS BEEN COMPLETELY UPDATED WITH CHARACTER CROWN MOLDING T/O. WAINS COATING IN THE DINING ROOM. REFINISHED HARDWOOD FLOORS IN LIVING ROOM AND DINING ROOM. BALCONY OFF LIVING ROOM OVERLOOKING AMAZING PARK LIKE VIEWS OF CREEK AND NATURAL BEAUTY. MOVE IN READY. MAY BE LEASED FULLY FURNISHED FOR $2,800/MONTH OR UNFURNISHED FOR $2,300/MONTH. 1ST MONTH RENT AND 1 1/2 SECURITY DEPOSIT DUE AT LEASE SIGNING. $250 NONREFUNDABLE CLEANING FEE. INCLUDES GAS AND WATER ASSOCIATION DUES INCLUDED IN LEASE. NO SMOKERS OR PETS. Pos: Immed

Listed with Realty Solutions of Michigan,


Brought to you by Janet Hull and Thomas Bush, Real Estate One, Inc.. Call me today at 1-855-Janet-Tom, or visit my website at www.JanetandThomas.com!


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How to Manage a Mortgage After a Divorce

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ShutterstockIn divorce, the matter of who gets the house can become moot without proper financial planning and professional advice.

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In a divorce, it’s bad enough that you’re losing someone you once loved or may still love. It’s even worse when you find out you may lose your house, too. And finding a replacement, much like starting a love life all over, won’t be easy. After all, lenders tend to give mortgage loans to people with good credit and a solid stream of income. If you were previously a two-income household, you aren’t now, and if you’re paying alimony, you have less money than you did.

Whether you’re in the midst of a divorce or its aftermath, here are some things you can do to land a mortgage and what you can reasonably expect.

You may want to get your name or your ex’s name off the mortgage. But perhaps not; it depends. If you are planning to buy a house, and your ex is living in the home you co-own, then ideally, your ex

It can be difficult for a person paying alimony to buy a house because of the way lenders look at that alimony.

needs to refinance in his or her name. That will decrease your debt and increase your odds of being able to get a new mortgage.

What if your ex can’t refinance on her or his own? If you’d like to see your ex and the kids remain in the house, you may want to leave your name on the mortgage and co-own the house for a while with your ex.

“People do that all the time,” says Katie Connell, a family law attorney with Boyd Collar Nolen & Tuggle in Atlanta and a governor-appointed member of the Georgia Commission on Child Support. “I’m stereotyping, but often a woman who didn’t work full time and doesn’t have the income stream or the credit to buy her own house, she and her ex-husband have agreed, with their family transitioning and changing, that it’s in their better interest to keep mom and the kids in the house for, say, four or five years or when the kids go into their college freshman year,” she says. “The husband is often willing to essentially extend his credit to his ex-wife by letting his name stay on the mortgage.”

If you’re going that route, Connell says you’ll want to work out details about how profits will be split once the house is sold down the road. It may not be an equal split since one ex-spouse will be likely making the mortgage payments and possibly spending money to maintain the home for those extra years.

Connell says that arrangement tends to work better if the ex without the house still has enough income and good credit to buy a new home of his or her own.

Don’t buy a home during the divorce proceedings. Even if you’re rich beyond belief, and your credit and income stream are solid, it’s still a risky move. Connell says one of her clients lost $10,000 in earnest money when he tried to buy a house during his divorce proceedings.

“He had great credit, a very good income, but when the lender found out he was going through a divorce, they said, ‘Your alimony and child support payments are question marks,'” Connell says. “By the

Some lenders won’t even consider letting a divorced person who receives alimony use that alimony as evidence of income….

way, this client had a different lawyer back then. If I had been representing him, I would have said, ‘Don’t do it!'”

Connell adds that when the client’s ex learned he lost $10,000 in earnest money, the ex’s lawyer naturally felt that the ex was entitled to at least half of that money – it was, after all, money that otherwise would have been in the pot of assets to split.

It can be difficult for a person paying alimony to buy a house because of the way lenders look at that alimony. “Alimony is considered a debt,” says Susan Pryor, branch manager of Silverton Mortgage Specialists, a direct lender in Atlanta. “If you make $10,000 a month and give $3,000 to your ex-spouse, the lender doesn’t look at it like you’re making $7,000 a month. They look at it like you have a $3,000 car payment every month.”

Where should you live during the divorce proceedings? Assuming you aren’t selling the house immediately and you’re both looking for a place to rent, there are two common approaches couples take, according to Connell.

  • Stay in your house with your soon-to-be ex. “We definitely see more people grinning and bearing it and living together longer,” Connell says. “We saw a lot of that in this last recession.” It’s an idea that makes some sense. Living together awhile longer will save you both money. And especially if you have children, maintaining a civil relationship under the same roof may help with your post-divorce relationship.
  • You could nest. You hear “nesting” used a lot in pregnancy, but Connell says that in the divorce industry, the term refers to renting an apartment near the house and living there while a divorce is worked out. “We see a lot of couples who take turns living there, and the kids stay in the house,” Connell says.

Connell adds the latter arrangement may not work for couples who still harbor a lot of anger or suspicion. She recalls an instance where a wife was convinced the husband was unplugging lamps and cable cords throughout the house before he would leave for the week.

“No damage or harm was done, but [the wife felt] it was just to be a pest,” Connell says. Meanwhile, the husband said the cords came unplugged from his vacuuming, and that the wife was leaving dirty dishes in the sink.

Whatever you do, Pryor urges divorcing homeowners to not rush their decision of where to live next. “You may be under tremendous stress, and it’s an emotional situation. Divorce can shake your planning, and you may not be able to make the right decisions,” she says.

Besides, you may not be able to rush, even if you want to. Some lenders won’t even consider letting a divorced person who receives alimony use that alimony as evidence of income until there’s a six-month history of alimony payments being paid on time, Connell says.

You may be better off without a mortgage. This may be the last thing you want to hear if you want to hang onto your house or buy a new home. But the money math may not add up.

It’s a common mistake with divorced homeowners, says Jean Ann Dorrell, a certified estate planner in Sumter County, Florida. Many people, she says, are “trying to hold onto a house because it’s where the kids grew up or because you don’t want the kids to have to change schools, you don’t want to lose friends and you stay too long trying to afford something you never could have or should have.”
Pryor agrees. “We see it a lot,” she says. “It’s especially emotional when children are involved.” She adds that spouses who didn’t know a divorce was coming tend to be the ones who can’t face their new budget.

Pryor recommends professional help for anyone divorced and struggling to keep their home or figure out where to live next.

“I think it’s important to do some financial planning, and there are planners who focus on divorce, so you can see what money is coming in and what’s going out,” Pryor says. “Just because you can barely make that mortgage payment every month doesn’t mean you should stay in the house.”

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Meet The Guy Who Just Bought 6,000-Plus Neglected Properties In Detroit

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The name sounds catchy, even cute: the “blight bundle.” Its contents, however, are far less appealing: 6,350 properties — mostly abandoned homes in d…

Read more: Blight Bundle, Detroit Blight Bundle, Herb Strather, Detroit Abandoned Buildings, Abandoned Detroit, Detroit Foreclosure, Detroit Real Estate, Detroit Blight, Video, HuffPost Home News

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Politically 'Red' Housing Markets Stronger Than 'Blue' Ones

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By Jed Kolko

The housing crisis hurt Democratic- and Republican-leaning markets similarly, but today blue markets have lower affordability, lower homeownership, and greater income inequality.

As Election Day 2014 approaches, we see sharp differences in local housing markets depending on whether they are blue or red. As the political urgency of the housing crisis fades, longer-term issues like declining affordability, low homeownership, and rising inequality are taking center stage. And these issues play out differently in Democratic- and Republican-leaning metros.

To show this, Trulia categorized the 100 largest metros as red or blue depending on their 2012 presidential vote. In 32 metros-the red markets — the Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, got more votes than the Democrat, President Obama. These include places like Houston, Cincinnati and Salt Lake City. In 40 light-blue markets, including St. Louis, Austin and Buffalo, Obama beat Romney by less than 20 percentage points. And in 28 dark-blue markets, including Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco, Obama’s margin exceeded 20 points.

When we looked at housing trends in these metros, we found that the housing crisis and recovery affected red and blue markets similarly. But today’s pressing housing issues are more severe in blue markets.

The Housing Crisis Hit Both Red and Blue America

When the housing bubble of the mid-2000s burst, both red and blue markets felt the pain. The markets with the most severe housing busts included dark-blue metros like Detroit and Oakland as well as red markets like Bakersfield and Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Florida. The peak-to-trough price decline averaged 16 percent in red markets, 26 percent in light-blue markets, and 25 percent in dark-blue markets. But the relationship between price declines and redness or blueness was not statistically significant. (See note.)

Nor does the recent recovery show any clear bias toward red or blue markets. In September 2014, home prices were up 7.0 percent year-over-year in red markets, 6.2 percent in light-blue markets, and 6.3 percent in dark-blue markets. The markets with the largest price increases included red metros like Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, Florida, and Birmingham, Alabama, and dark-blue metros like Miami and Toledo, Ohio. The relationship between year-over-year price increases and 2012 voting patterns is not statistically significant. Another recovery measure, the share of homes in foreclosure, also doesn’t show a statistically significant correlation with 2012 voting patterns.

Key Housing Data in the Reddest Metros
U.S. Metro 2012 Vote Margin: Obama vs. Romney Price Decline in Housing Bust, Peak-to-Trough Year-Over-Year Price Change, Sept. 2014 Median Asking Price Per Square Foot, $
1 Knoxville, TN -34% -8% 2.1% $98
2 Tulsa, OK -32% -4% 7.3% $90
3 Greenville, SC -30% -8% 5.9% $92
4 Oklahoma City, OK -27% -3% 4.0% $98
5 Fort Worth, TX -23% -6% 6.4% $94
6 Salt Lake City -21% -22% 4.7% $129
7 Colorado Springs, CO -21% -12% 4.0% $107
8 Birmingham, AL -20% -13% 11.5% $96
9 Jacksonville, FL -19% -38% 7.0% $109
10 Bakersfield, CA -17% -52% 8.2% $126
Note: among 100 largest U.S. metros. Reddest metros are those with highest negative margin for Obama vs. Romney in 2012. See blogpost note for data sources. Data for all 100 metros available here.
Key Housing Data in the Bluest Metros
U.S. Metro 2012 Vote Margin: Obama vs. Romney Price Decline in Housing Bust, Peak-to-Trough Year-Over-Year Price Change, Sept. 2014 Median Asking Price Per Square Foot, $
1 San Francisco 58% -23% 9.9% $613
2 Oakland, CA 50% -39% 11.9% $342
3 New York 49% -18% 4.3% $320
4 Detroit 47% -40% 11.4% $75
5 San Jose, CA 42% -26% 8.6% $430
6 Los Angeles 42% -35% 6.9% $334
7 Honolulu 39% -11% 4.1% $439
8 Washington, DC 37% -25% 3.2% $177
9 Fort Lauderdale, FL 35% -48% 6.9% $143
10 Seattle 35% -26% 8.9% $197
Note: among 100 largest U.S. metros. Bluest metros are those with highest positive margin for Obama vs. Romney in 2012. See blogpost note for data sources. Data for all 100 metros available here.

Affordability Is a Bigger Problem for Blue Markets

Things look fundamentally different when we compare red and blue markets in terms of affordability and related measures. The tables above show that none of the 10 reddest markets had a median asking price per square foot above $130 in Sept. 2014. But nine of the 10 bluest markets did. Looking across all 100 largest metros, the correlation between price-per-square-foot and 2012 vote margin was positive, high (0.63), and statistically significant. In fact, the only expensive red market was Orange County, California, at $363 per square foot. There was a huge drop-off to the next-most-expensive red market — North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota, Florida — at $150 per square foot.

When we plot local market home price per-square-foot and the 2012 presidential vote, we see that most of the red metros are clustered in the lower left-hand corner of the figure, where prices were lowest.

Strikingly, housing costs nearly twice as much in dark-blue markets ($227 per square foot) than in red markets ($119).


Sure, households in blue markets tend to have higher incomes. But those higher incomes are not enough to offset higher home prices. Our middle-class affordability measure, which reflects the share of homes for sale within reach of a median-income household, is significantly lower in bluer markets. Furthermore, blue markets have lower homeownership and greater income inequality than red markets. As with affordability, the relationships between homeownership and inequality on one hand and 2012 voting patterns on the other hand are statistically significant.

What does all this mean? The point is not that Democrats cause expensive housing, lower homeownership, or greater inequality. Determining whether and how the political views of voters or their elected officials affect local housing markets is the stuff of scholarly research, not short blogposts. But because blue markets are less affordable, have lower homeownership, and have greater income inequality, political leaders in Democratic-leaning and Republican-leaning metros may push for different policies.

Furthermore, these local differences in home prices mean that some national housing policies favor red markets and others blue markets. For instance, the current system of conforming loan limits benefits red markets more because homes in those markets are likelier to fall within local loan limits. But the mortgage interest deduction benefits blue markets more, thanks to higher home prices and more residents in higher tax brackets. Such differences could make it harder to reform these long-standing policies. In short, the differences between blue and red local housing markets may add to the challenge of reaching agreement on national housing policies.

Note: Metro-level 2012 Presidential election data are aggregated from county-level data in the Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections. Peak-to-trough price declines are calculated from the Federal Housing Finance Agency House Price Index. Year-over-year price changes and median asking prices per square foot are from the Trulia Price Monitor. Correlations mentioned in this post are metro-level, weighted by number of households in the metro, and statistically significant if p<.05. The correlation of price per square foot and vote margin is calculated using the natural log of price per square foot.

Jed Kolko leads Trulia’s housing research and provides insight on market trends and public policy to major media outlets including TIME magazine, CNN, and numerous others. Jed’s background includes a Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University and more than 15 years of publications and research management in economic development, land use and housing policy, and consumer technology adoption.

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$1,150 :: 692 Ruffner, Birmingham MI, 48009

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2 beds, 1 full bath
Home size: 900 sq ft
Lot Size: 0 sq ft
Added: 08/22/14, Last Updated: 10/27/14
Property Type: 1 Story, Residential
MLS Number: 31208781
Community: Birmingham (63192)
Tract: LEINBACH-HUMPHREY’S WOODWARD AVE SUB
Status: Sold

Very cute and Quaint Birmingham Ranch. Quick occupancy

Listed with Brookview Realty


Brought to you by Janet Hull and Thomas Bush, Real Estate One, Inc.. Call me today at 1-855-Janet-Tom, or visit my website at www.JanetandThomas.com!


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$3,500,000 :: 1280 Fairfax Street, Birmingham MI, 48009

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6 beds, 7 full, 1 part baths
Home size: 7,250 sq ft
Lot Size: 14,810 sq ft
Added: 10/16/14, Last Updated: 10/16/14
Property Type: Residential
MLS Number: 214107174
Community: Birmingham
Tract: Caspar J Lingeman’s Quarton Road Unit
Status: Active

THE FOUNDATION HAS BEEN SET AND THE ROOF WILL BE IN PLACE BY MAY! THIS NEWEST BRANDYWINE GEM OFFERS EVERYTHING THAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR IN LUXURY LIVING — AND YOU CAN EVEN ADD YOUR OWN PERSONAL TOUCHES AS IT IS BEING CREATED! DESIGNED BY RENOWNED ARCHITECT CHRISTOPHER J. LONGE. BEING BUILT BY BIRMINGHAM’S PRE-EMINENT BUILDER, BRANDYWINE DELIVERS YET ANOTHER EXQUISITE RESIDENCE WITH EVERY MODERN CONVENIENCE, THE MOST EXACTING DETAILS AND THE HIGHEST QUALITY MATERIALS (BOTH SEEN AND UNSEEN!) THROUGHOUT ALMOST 10,000 SQUARE FEET OF FINISHED LIVING SPACE. LOCATED IN THE HEART OF COVETED QUARTON LAKE ESTATES, THIS STATELY HOME IS SURE TO BECOME A SIGNATURE RESIDENCE. YOU WILL LIVE THE LIFESTYLE OF YOUR DREAMS WITH 5 BEDROOM SUITES, THE FINEST CRAFTSMANSHIP, THE MOST EXQUISITE ARCHITECTURAL DETAILS AND UNPARALLELED AMENITIES. RARE 4-CAR GARAGE AND ELEVATOR, TOO! CALL TODAY TO DISCUSS FEATURES/FINISHES AND EXPERIENCE THE PRIDE OF OWNING A BRANDYWINE-BUILT RESIDENCE.

Listed with Shain Park, REALTORS®


Brought to you by Janet Hull and Thomas Bush, Real Estate One, Inc.. Call me today at 1-855-Janet-Tom, or visit my website at www.JanetandThomas.com!


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A Mortgage Cost You Now Can Do Without

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ShutterstockYou don’t need to have 20 percent equity to dump private mortgage insurance, a cost that’s no longer tax deductible.

By Scott Sheldon

For those who’ve gotten a mortgage in the past few years with little equity, most are all too familiar with private mortgage insurance, the added premium built into the mortgage payment insuring the lender against payment default. Measured over time, it can cost you thousands, so it’s worth a closer look — especially if you can eliminate it entirely.

There Are No Longer Tax Advantages: For years, mortgage borrowers got to enjoy additional tax advantages by having the ability to write off their annual mortgage insurance premiums — much like their property taxes and mortgage interest. A dollar-for-dollar write-off, paying PMI wasn’t all that bad.

If an appraisal of the property you’re going to buy shows you have 10 percent equity, you could qualify for the lender to pick up the monthly mortgage insurance payments, aptly called Lender Paid Mortgage Insurance.

From 2008 through 2013, it was simply the cost of doing business if you didn’t have the holy grail 20 percent down payment. Then the IRS changed the rules, and disallowed the mortgage insurance premium deduction for taxable years after Dec. 31, 2013. As we enter the fourth quarter of 2014, many homeowners are not privy to this change, and will learn that their PMI is now an after-tax expense (like fire insurance or a consumer loan payment).

It Reduces Your Borrowing Ability: If your mortgage payment has PMI built in, by definition you have more debt, requiring more income to offset it. Without more income, the PMI erodes the existing income normally used to offset the rest of the mortgage payment and other obligations (like car payment, student loans, credit cards, etc). The exact amount of the PMI is how much your gross income is reduced by — without the tax advantage. For example, a $250 per month PMI reduces your income by $250 per month.

Home Equity Needed: Here’s the thing: You don’t need to have 20 percent equity anymore to get rid of PMI. If an appraisal of the property you’re going to buy shows you have 10 percent equity, you could qualify for the lender to pick up the monthly mortgage insurance payments, aptly called Lender Paid Mortgage Insurance. (This can also be done if you’ve already purchased the home and want to eliminate PMI from your monthly payment.) This is especially advantageous as PMI can be anywhere from 0.75 percent of the loan amount to 1.3 percent of the loan amount, annually, paid on a monthly basis. On a loan for $400,000 that could be as high as $430 per month, which is an immense net tangible benefit if the lender scoops up this premium each month.

However, you need an appraisal to see if you qualify for this. Most lenders’ appraisal fee is $400 to $500, but it’s worth it if you can get a substantially lower mortgage payment without the PMI. On the flip side, the appraisal may also determine that you have insufficient equity to qualify, but it will help you define exactly how much more value you would need to refinance in the future.

PMI Slows Your Mortgage Payoff Timeline: This is a big disadvantage of PMI. Let’s say your mortgage payment is $2,800 per month, and $300 of it is the PMI payment. You’re investing an extra $200 per month into your principal balance to reduce the interest you pay on the mortgage over time — as a smart consumer, you’re making a $3,000 per month mortgage payment. If you didn’t have the PMI, you would be paying an extra $500 per month directly to your principal, compounding your timely prepay efforts and reducing your interest expense exponentially. If you’re overpaying on your mortgage and you have PMI, you’re only realizing half the potential you would be if you were able to get rid of the PMI or shift the cost of the PMI to the lender via lender paid mortgage insurance.

How to Cut PMI If You’re Refinancing: Some homeowners have a mortgage they took out when 30-year mortgage rates were below 3.75 percent. In this case, why refinance a mortgage if you have a 3.25 percent 30-year fixed with PMI and a new 30-year fixed rate mortgage is just over 4 percent? Well, petitioning out with PMI is daunting task indeed, especially depending the type of loan you have.

If you have an FHA mortgage you took out pre-June 2014: The requirement then was after 60 months of mortgage insurance premiums paid to HUD and 20% equity, you had the ability to petition out of PMI – and it is up to the lender’s sole discretion to grant the homeowner’s request, not a guarantee. Alternatively, the PMI would be removed at 78 percent loan-to-value / 22 percent equity based on an amortization schedule from the original loan inception, calculating out at 120 months (that’s 10 years).

However, PMI for FHA loans originated after June 2014 with 3.5 percent down contains permanent mortgage insurance, and the only way out is to refinance or with 10 percent down. You can petition out of the mortgage insurance after 10 years. However, refinancing may be a more worthwhile choice in either situation.

For conventional loans, you can petition to remove it after a minimum of 24 months of mortgage payments. The key here is: If refinancing into a conventional loan with lender paid mortgage insurance is less costly than how much more you would pay in PMI between now and when 24 months is up, moving out of the PMI would make sense as long as the rate is the same, or lower.

*Mortgage Tip: If the interest rate on a new refinance is 0.125 percent to 0.25 percent higher than the current rate with PMI, the rate differential could make financial sense if prepaying the mortgage.

Borrowers might just have more equity than they think. In many markets, home prices have not only stabilized, but have risen, creating more equity for homeowners who otherwise were thinly financed in years past. This additional equity can easily pave the path to reducing the PMI payment, if not completely removing it.

The Bottom Line: You can avoid PMI if you have as little as 10 percent down payment or home equity. Work closely with your loan officer, they are incentivized to help you. If you can’t avoid mortgage insurance, depending on your financial situation, ask your lender what other adjustments can be made to reduce your mortgage costs: credit score, loan program and of course equity all play important roles in your loan structure. (You can check your credit scores for free every month on Credit.com.)

Scott Sheldon is a senior loan officer and consumer advocate based in Santa Rosa, California. His work has appeared in Yahoo! Homes, CNN Money, MarketWatch and The Wall Street Journal. Connect with him at Sonoma County Mortgages.

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