Kathy Murray | Boston MA Listings. Real Estate


You can ask any homeowner-buying and owning a home is expensive. Mortgage payments, property taxes, utilities, and other bills quickly add up.

If you want to buy a home but don’t have a large down payment saved, odds are you’ve discovered something called private mortgage insurance (PMI).

PMI is an extra monthly payment that you make (on top of your mortgage payment) when you don’t have enough to make a large (20%) down payment on your home.

However, if you want to buy a home and don’t want to tack on an extra monthly payment for PMI, you have options. In today’s post, I’m going to talk about some ways to avoid paying PMI on your mortgage so you can save more money in the long run.

PMI Basics

Before we talk about getting rid of PMI, let’s spend a minute on what to expect when you do have to pay it.

PMI typically costs 0.30% to %1.15% of your total loan balance annually. That means that your PMI payments will decrease a moderate amount as you pay off your loan.

Furthermore, once you have paid off 22% of your loan, your PMI will be cancelled and you’ll only be responsible for your regular monthly mortgage payments.

Getting PMI waived early

With conventional loans, you can request to have your PMI cancelled once you’ve paid off 20% of the mortgage. However, many buyers with PMI are using some form of first-time buyer loan, such as an FHA loan.

With an FHA loan, you’ll be stuck with PMI for the lifetime of the loan if you don’t make a down payment of 10% or more. That’s a lot of PMI payments, especially if you take out a 30 year loan, and it can quickly add up.

If you have an FHA loan with FHA insurance, the only way to cancel the insurance is to refinance into a non-FHA insured loan. And remember--refinancing has its own costs and complications.

Making it to the 20% repayment mark

On conventional loans, the best way to get rid of PMI is to reach your 20% repayment mark as soon as possible. That could mean aggressively paying off your mortgage until you reach that point.

This can be achieved by making extra payments, or just paying more each month. However, you don’t want to neglect other debt that could be accruing costly interest in favor of paying off your loans. Make sure you do the math and find out which debt will be more expensive before neglecting other debt.

Once you do reach the 20% repayment mark, you’ll have to remember to apply to have your PMI canceled with your lender. Otherwise, it will be canceled automatically at 22%.


When it comes to home buying a home, there’s a ton of different information available out there. A lot of what has been presented as “fact” actually is quite false. These misconceptions could keep you away from achieving the very real dream of home ownership. Below, you’ll find some of the most common myths that you’ll find about home buying.


If Your Credit Score Isn’t Up To Par, You Can’t Buy


To get good mortgage rates, having a good credit score doesn’t hurt. You can still buy a home if you don’t have amazing credit. A low credit score means that your mortgage rates will be higher than the average. There are loans like FHA loans, that allow for you to get a loan with a credit score as low as 580. Don’t let a lower credit score discourage you from buying a home. If your credit score is low, there are plenty of things that you can do to help you fix the score in a short period of time.  


You Need 20 Percent Down To Buy A Home


This is a long-standing myth about home buying. While putting down 20 percent on a home purchase saves you the extra expense of Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI), you can still be in the running to buy a home if your down payment is less than 20 percent. There are even some home loan programs that allow buyers to put as little as 0-3 percent down for the purchase of their home.


You Have To Make A Lot Of Money To Buy A Home


Your monthly income is one of many aspects of your financial life that’s considered when you’re buying a home. Home loans can be denied to those who make a large income just as easily as to those who have lower incomes. What matters is the debt-to-income ratio, which tells lenders how much debt a buyer has compared to the amount of income the buyer makes each and every month. Keep your debt down, and you’ll be in good shape to buy a home. 


You Don’t Need To Be Pre-Approved To Get A House


Being pre-approved gives you an upper hand in the home buying process. Being pre-approved allows your lender and you to go through the entire process of getting a mortgage. When you find a home that you love, you’re able to breeze through the process of making an offer if you’re pre-approved. The pre-approval process is one of the most important aspects of buying a home. 


If you’re prepared with knowledge, buying a home isn’t such a daunting process after all. Find a realtor you trust, understand your finances, and the rest will fall into place!


You’ve never owned your own home and your thinking about buying. Transitioning mentally from renter to owner can be confusing at times. As a renter, you haven't had to deal with the ins and outs of owning your own home, and as you examine the reality of ownership, it can seem like it involves more cons than pros. You have to take care of all maintenance, repairs, insurance, upgrades and more. With all the added work to maintain only to one day resell your home, it might not seem worth it. So why is buying a good idea? Here’s why!

Consistent monthly payments

As a renter, you constantly are subject to rent increases. Depending on your city or neighborhood, this might be a small percentage annually (if your rental unit is under rent control), or an annual increase determined in your rental agreement. In many cases, your rent is subject to your landlord’s discretion at the end of each term of your lease, and if the property value and quality of living go up in your neighborhood (as you hope it does), it could price you out of your favorite living space. When you choose to purchase a home, you make a longer commitment, but your monthly payments are guaranteed to be the same throughout the repayment of your fixed-rate mortgage. Living with no surprise changes allows you to set budgetary and lifestyle goals further into the future, and the certainty to achieve them.

Equity and future cash flow

Yes, you will likely need to take out a loan to purchase your own home. The upside to ownership is that every mortgage payment you make increases the percentage of equity you have in your home. When you rent, you are only paying toward the term of your lease and the owner of the rental property gains all the equity. Investing in your own property helps your financial stability for the future. The more equity you have, the better your net worth and the more you can invest in other properties or goods. The more stake you have in your home, the more valuable it becomes to you when you want to sell your property in the future—to create cash flow, or to invest in a new home, other property, or your retirement lifestyle. 

Apart from the personal value of owning your own home—taking care of it, raising a family there, or starting a new life in your place—the investment can add even more value to your life. If you’re considering your first home purchase and aren’t sure about the commitment or investment value, speak with your local real estate agent for the best advice for you. Review your current means, your interests and abilities, and your life goals and let them help you make the right decision.


A showing enables a buyer to walk through a residence and envision what life may be like if he or she purchases it. And if a buyer crafts a home showing strategy, he or she can make the most of this opportunity.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you plan ahead for a house showing.

1. Review the Home Listing

A home listing may include details about a house, as well as images that depict different areas of a residence. It also may feature information about various attractions and landmarks near a house.

By reviewing a listing prior to a showing, you can double-check to ensure a home falls in line with your homebuying goals. Plus, you can use a listing to understand what you may see during a showing and establish realistic expectations for a residence.

2. Make a List of Questions

There is no reason to enter a showing without a list of questions about a residence. Because if you attend a showing without questions in hand, you risk missing out on valuable insights about a house that otherwise could help you determine if a home is right for you.

As you create a list of home showing questions, consider what you want to know about a house that you were unable to learn from the residence's listing. For instance, you may want to ask why a seller has decided to list his or her house. Or, you can craft questions about utility expenses and other home costs so you can get the information you need to analyze a house.

3. Prepare Your Home Showing Essentials

A home showing is a learning experience unlike any other, so it often helps to put together a bag of must-have items for the event.

For example, you may want to bring a pen and paper so you can take notes during a house showing. Meanwhile, some buyers carry a camera with them so they can capture photos of a house and review them after a showing.

As you prepare to attend a home showing, you may want to consult with a real estate agent as well. This housing market professional can take the guesswork out of planning for a showing and help you gain the insights you need to assess all aspects of a residence.

Typically, a real estate agent will meet with a buyer prior to a showing and offer insights into a house. A real estate agent and buyer then will attend a showing together and walk through a house. After a showing is complete, a real estate agent and buyer next will discuss the house and weigh its advantages and disadvantages. At this point, if a buyer wants to submit an offer to purchase a particular home, a real estate agent will help him or her craft a competitive homebuying proposal.

Want to maximize the value of a house showing? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can plan ahead for any home showing, at any time.


Unmarried couples often find themselves surprised at the additional steps it takes to buy a home compared to their wedded friends.

This guide will help you prepare for buying a home together as an unmarried couple:

Banks will assess you differently than they would a married couple.

Whereas they look at a married couple as a single financial unit, you and your partner will be assessed individually. This certainly has its pro’s and con’s. Know that if one partner has a significantly lower credit score it can affect your eligibility for a loan as a couple.  

Legal ownership of the title will be different.

Unmarried couples have three options when it comes to title ownership: sole ownership, joint tenants and tenants in common.

Tenants in common is the most popular. The difference between tenants in common and joint tenants is this:

  • In a joint tenancy ownership is 50/50. If one partner were to become deceased, ownership of their half of the property would carry over to the other partner.

  • Tenants in common ownership can be disproportionate to reflect each partners level of investment.  If one partner were to become deceased, their living trust would inherit ownership of their portion of the property if another option is not otherwise specified in their will.

  • Sole ownership is just that. One partner owns full legal ownership of the property. This option can have tax benefits and increase your financing eligibility if one partner has a higher income or better credit score than the other.

It’s highly recommended for unmarried couples to sign a property, partnership or cohabitation agreement when buying a home together. This is a legal precaution to safeguard both partners in the future should anything happen.

If your finances are separate it is ideal to at the very least create a joint checking account from which to draw the down payment and mortgage installments. This is especially true if both partners are contributing to these payments. It create a clean, clearcut payment process each month.

Know each other's finances.

Discuss your credit scores, debt burden, savings, investments and financial goals. Get clear on where you each stand and how these factors will influence your buying process. Create a budget together as a couple to ensure you can take on not just the responsibility of a mortgage payment but also closing costs, homeowners insurance, property taxes and maintenance costs. Plan for savings like retirement, nest egg, family planning, future vacations, and emergency funds.

Buying a home together as an unmarried couple is a different process than that of married couples. However, that doesn’t mean it has to be harder. With an understanding of what to expect ahead of time and a plan in place, the process can be a smooth one.





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