Since 1999, lenders have been obligated to cancel a borrower's Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) at the point his mortgage balance (for a loan made after July of '99) reaches less than seventy-eight percent of the purchase price, but not when the borrower's equity gets to twenty-two percent or more. (Some "higher risk" loans are excluded.) The good news is that you can cancel your PMI yourself (for a mortgage loan closing after July '99), without considering the original price of purchase, after the equity gets to twenty percent.
Study your statements often. Also be aware of the price that other homes are selling for in your neighborhood. You are paying mostly interest if the closing was fewer than 5 years ago, so your principal most likely hasn't gone down much.
You can start the process of PMI cancellation as soon as you calculate that your equity has reached 20%. You will need to call the lender to let them know that you wish to cancel PMI. Your lender will request documentation that your equity is high enough. You can get documentation of your home's equity by getting a state certified appraisal on form URAR-1004 (Uniform Residential Appraisal Report), which is required by most lending institutions before canceling PMI.
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