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Contact your lender directly to ensure that you are actually paying for PMI.  If your principal balance is less than 80% of your last appraised value, request that your lender stop charging you for PMI.

If your principal balance is more than 80% of your last appraised value, but you know that your home's current market value would cause you to be below the 80% threshold, get an appraisal and present the appraisal to your lender.

Be aware that your lender does not have a choice of dropping your PMI payments once your outstanding mortgage balance is less than 80% of your home's current market value.  This is because Congress passed a comprehensive law in 1998 (Public Law 105-216) which deals with PMI, making it required for you to have these payments dropped if these conditions are met.

An appraisal involves an inspection of your property and then finding similar properties in the neighborhood that have sold recently. From this, the fair market value of your property can be determined. The inspection portion of an appraisal typically takes about 30 minutes, but varies depending on the size of the house, room count, etc.)

To learn about your specific PMI cancellation policies, call your lender or mortgage servicing firm.

To find more information about mortgage insurance and to use a specific formula to estimate when PMI may be canceled, visit the web site of the Mortgage Insurance Companies of America.

U.S. Mortgage Insurers
1101 17th St NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Customer Service Department can answer your questions about PMI and low down-payment loans.

U.S. Dept. of Housing & Urban Development
Customer Service Department
451 7th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20410