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How to avoid Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI)

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What is Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI)? 

A Lenders Mortgage Insurance premium is the fee borrowers pay lenders. The LMI serves as extra protection for the lender in case the borrower defaults or fails to pay back the loan. 

Generally, borrowers are considered high risk if they have a loan-to-value ratio (LVR) of over 80%. This is the case when borrowers don’t provide a deposit of at least 20% of their chosen property’s value. 

How much is LMI? 

A borrower’s LMI depends on various factors, but relies heavily on the borrower’s financial circumstances, the size of the loan, the deposit amount, and the LMI provider. The property’s location can also play a role in the cost of the LMI because of stamp duty. 

Usually, the higher your LVR is, the more expensive your LMI will be. By borrowing more, there is more risk of financial loss to the lender if you default on your loan. 

How is LMI paid? 

The LMI can be paid upfront to the lender at the loan settlement stage. Alternatively, most lenders allow the borrower to add the LMI fee to their regular repayments and pay it throughout their loan term. Each option has its pros and cons. Which one is best depends entirely on your financial situation. 

How to reduce the cost of LMI? 

You can reduce the cost of LMI by providing a larger downpayment or deposit. The lower your LVR is, the lower your LMI will cost. For example, a deposit of 10% of the property’s value will garner significantly less LMI costs compared to one of only 5%. 

How to avoid Lenders Mortgage Insurance 

The last thing people want to do when buying a home is fork out more money by paying LMI fees. Here are helpful ways you can avoid being charged LMI: 

The First Home Loan Deposit Scheme 

If you are a first home buyer, you may be able to buy a property with a 5% deposit without paying LMI, with the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme. Factors such as: where you are buying, your income, and the value of the property you are buying, will all affect your eligibility. 

Keep your loan-to-value ratio (LVR) below 80% 

Lenders will typically exempt borrowers from having to pay lenders mortgage insurance. That 20% deposit is viewed as a buffer, large enough so that if there was a fall in the value of the property, the lender would be protected as they could recover the amount owed to them if the borrower defaults. 

However, a larger deposit may be required in some circumstances. This may happen when the buyer is looking to purchase property in a particular suburb that the lenders perceive as having high default rates and or at risk of a large fall in prices. In this instance, the lender may require a larger deposit for the borrower’s LMI to be waived (around 30% to 40%). 

You can also build a bigger deposit and in turn, potentially avoid paying LMI by buying in a more affordable area where your deposit will stretch further. Finding cheaper co-living arrangements for 12 months could also be an option for those looking to save a larger deposit. 

Have a guarantor 

Usually, if the borrower is backed by a quality guarantor (e.g., parent or guardian) that legally accepts responsibility for the mortgage repayments if the borrower cannot make them, the lender will waive the LMI on the loan, regardless of how small the deposit is. 

Use your profession as leverage 

If you earn a high salary and have a solid employment history working professionally in certain industries, some banks and lenders may offer an LMI waiver. Some professions that may receive an LMI exemption include doctors and other medical professionals, actuaries, accountants, solicitors and professionals in the entertainment industry. 

Apply with certain lenders 

Some lenders will offer discounts or waive LMI fees for some borrowers, though you should always compare different loans predominantly based on rates and fees. 

Partner with someone for the purchase 

If you are eager to get your foot in the property market door but don’t have a 20% deposit yourself, there is the option to partner with someone else and buy the property as a joint project. This avenue means you both contribute to the deposit and in turn lower the risks and financial obligations. 

If you’re ready to inquire about finding a home loan that’s right for you, check out our competitive home loans or chat with one of our lending specialists to help you get into the property market.

About the article

As Australia's leading online lender, loans.com.au has been helping people into their dream homes and cars for more than 10 years. Our content is written and reviewed by experienced financial experts. The information we provide is general in nature and does not take into account your personal objectives or needs. If you'd like to chat to one of our lending specialists about a home or car loan, contact us on Live Chat or by calling 13 10 90.

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