Reader Question about FHA Mortgage Insurance

I received this email this past week while I was on vacation.  Right now I am licensed for loans only in Washington State and I don’t always have enough time left in the day to answer the questions or request for advice that I receive from readers who are located outside of my current “lending boundaries”…although I do try.  Sometimes a question or email makes a good post because it may help others who read this mortgage blog. 

Hi Rhonda, I read your blog all the time and I’m in need of advice from someone who knows their stuff — unfortunately im not in WA anymore so I can’t use you and I can’t get a straight answer out of my broker.

I am going with an FHA loan but I expect to be able to pay 20% of the principal within five years. What is not clear to me is if MIP on FHA loans can be removed *without* refinancing — i.e. just based on having paid 20% of the loan amt. I read something on the FHA site that said that this can be done only if the upfront MIP is paid at closing — I am trying to figure out if that means cash as opposed to rolling it into the loan.

Every time I’ve attempted to get an answer from my brokers they keep talking about refinancing in a few years and house appreciation — I really want to know the deal in case I CAN’T refi (due to market tanking or rates climbing, for example)

Advice is very very much appreciated.

FHA insured loans have mortgage insurance regardless of down payment or equity until two qualifications are met:

From HUD’s Mortgagee Letter 00-46:

Regardless of the computed loan-to-value ratio, all but 15-year term mortgages will have annual premiums for the greater of five years or until the amortized loan-to-value reaches 78 percent; there is no annual premium on 15-year term mortgages with initial loan-to-value ratios less than 90 percent.  All other mortgages with terms greater than 15 years, regardless of the initial loan-to-value ratio will have annual premiums for the greater of five years or until the amortized loan-to-value reaches 78 percent.  If a computed loan-to-value ratio is not possible, due to missing data or previous refinancing without an appraisal, the new loan-to-value will default to 89.99 percent.

If a borrower elects to make additional payments towards principal, they may request the monthly mortgage insurance payment be removed only after 60 payments have been made with no late payments in the last 12 months.

Those loans reaching the 78 percent loan to value threshold sooner than projected (but not sooner than five years from the date of origination except for 15-year term mortgages) due to advanced payments of principal will have the annual premium collections canceled upon the servicing lender submitting supporting information to FHA following the borrower’s request provided that the borrower has not been more than 30 days delinquent on the mortgage during the previous twelve months.

Whether or not you elect to pay your upfront mortgage insurance as a closing cost (cash) or finance it, is up to you.  It will not help expedite the removal of your monthly FHA mortgage insurance.

One of the present benefits with an FHA loan is the ability to refinance without an appraisal.  If the market tanks and homes continue to depreciate, as long as you can obtain a rate with a lower rate (the refinance must make sense), you can do an FHA streamline refinance.  I say “present” because we are in a climate where guidelines are changing….even for FHA.

Thanks for your question and for reading The Mortgage Porter.

EDITORS NOTE: FHA guidelines for mortgage insurance is changing in 2013. Please check current guidelines.


  1. You nailed it! Mortgage Porter Great Advice. If your home looses value in the future, but interest rates are lower you can do an FHA streamline sans appraisal and without income verification. No appraisal is needed because the loan amount is set off of the loan amount shown on the NOTE from your current FHA Mortgage. You will receive an upfront MI refund If you complete your streamline refinance in the first 36 months. In most cases when completing an FHA streamline refinance you will need to bring a mortgage payment to your signing to cover setting up your new impound account, interest due, and any 3rd party(title) or lender fees. Of course if there is money left in your current impound account you will be refunded that as well. Being that you get to skip a payment the FHA streamline refinance is a great way for homeowners with FHA mortgages to get a lower interest rate and payment simply, and quickly. joeb

  2. You can receive a portion of your upfront mortgage insurance–it’s not a full refund.

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