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August 2, 2013

Dave Ramsey: Make down payment; avoid PMI

NEW CASTLE — Dear Dave:  When is it OK to purchase a house without making a 20 percent down payment? — Hannah

Dear Hannah: When you’re willing to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI). And that’s not something you want to do.

PMI costs about $75 a month per $100,000 borrowed. So, if you borrow $200,000 on a home, and you don’t put down at least 20 percent on the transaction, you’ll have to pay out an extra $150 a month as part of your mortgage payment.

Private mortgage insurance does nothing for you except pay your mortgage company in the event they have to foreclose on you and they lose money. PMI is foreclosure insurance that protects the lender, and you get to pay for it if you don’t make a 20 percent down payment. In the scenario I mentioned before, that would be an additional $1,800 a year on a $200,000 loan. In a sense, that’s an extra 0.9 percent on your interest rate. That’s what it feels like.

So you can see that PMI is not a positive thing. Often, a first-time homebuyer will purchase a house with 10 percent down then pay the other 10 percent as quickly as possible in order to get rid of the PMI. Stay away from it, Hannah. It’s nasty stuff! — Dave

Dear Dave: I have a close friend whose 17-year-old daughter is going to college to become a high-school band director. Her daughter wants to take out student loans to attend an expensive private school, and tuition alone over four years will cost $100,000. I feel this is a really bad idea, but I don’t know how to talk to her about this. — Natalie

Dear Natalie: I’m sure your friend and her family are nice people. But what we’ve got here is a little teenage girl who has her heart set on something, and no one has told her no in a while. You’re getting ready to help introduce a new word into her vocabulary, because what you’ve described to me is stupid.

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