Lenders Mortgage Insurance

What It Is, How It Works, and Why You Might Need It.

Elephant sorting out his Lender's Mortgage Insurance on a document

A Guide To Lender's Mortgage Insurance (LMI)

If you're in the market for a home, you're probably swimming in a sea of mortgage jargon that's about as clear as mud. One of those terms you might encounter is "Lenders Mortgage Insurance" or LMI. Fear not, my fellow future homeowners! I'm here to explain what LMI is, how it works, and why you might need it. We'll even throw in a joke or two just to keep things light because, let's face it, mortgages can be a bit of a snooze-fest. 

What is Lenders Mortgage Insurance?

Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI) is a type of insurance that protects your mortgage lender from financial loss if you're unable to make your loan repayments. If you've ever heard the phrase, "Don't put all your eggs in one basket," think of LMI as the lender's way of not putting all the eggs in your basket.

You might be thinking, "Hang on, shouldn't I be the one protected?" Well, you're not wrong, but LMI is designed to benefit both you and the lender. While it does provide a safety net for the lender, it also allows you to buy a property with a smaller deposit, meaning you can get into the property market sooner. So, it's a win-win, really.

When is LMI required?

If you've been saving up for your dream home, you might already know about the magical 20% deposit rule. This rule states that you generally need to have a deposit of at least 20% of the property's value to secure a mortgage without LMI. But, as we all know, saving up that much cash can be as difficult as finding a needle in a haystack or a drop bear in Australia (just kidding, they don't exist… or do they?).

So, if you can't quite reach that 20% deposit, you can still apply for a mortgage with a smaller deposit, but you'll most likely need to pay for LMI. The exact threshold for LMI varies between lenders, but it typically kicks in when your deposit is less than 20% of the property's value.

LMI costs: How much should I expect to pay?

LMI premiums can vary depending on a few factors, like the size of your deposit, the amount you're borrowing, and your lender's risk assessment. Generally speaking, the smaller your deposit, the higher your LMI premium will be. So, if you're only putting down a 5% deposit, expect to pay more for LMI than if you were putting down a 15% deposit.

Just like a good knock-knock joke, LMI premiums can be hard to predict. But, to give you a rough idea, let's look at a hypothetical example:

Imagine you're purchasing a property worth $500,000, and you only have a 10% deposit saved ($50,000). Your lender may charge an LMI premium of around $8,000 (give or take). The exact amount will vary, so it's important to speak with your mortgage broker to get an accurate quote.

Can I avoid LMI altogether?

There are a few ways you can potentially avoid LMI:

1. Save a 20% deposit: Easier said than done, but if you can save up a 20% deposit, you'll be in a better position to negotiate a mortgage without LMI.

2. Use a guarantor: If a family member is willing to act as a guarantor on your loan, it might be possible to avoid LMI altogether.

3. Seek a professional package: Some lenders offer special packages for professionals in certain industries, like medicine or law, which might waive LMI requirements. It never hurts to ask!

4. Take advantage of government schemes: Keep an eye out for government schemes designed to help first-time homebuyers, as they may offer a partial or full LMI waiver.

The LMI application process 

If LMI is required for your home loan, the application process is usually quite straightforward. The lender will assess your financial situation, including your credit history, income, and the amount you wish to borrow. Once they've determined the level of risk you pose, they'll calculate your LMI premium and add it to your mortgage. 

The good news is that you don't have to pay the LMI premium upfront. Instead, it's typically added to your loan amount and spread over the life of the loan, so you'll be paying it off bit by bit with your regular mortgage repayments. Just remember the more you borrow, the more interest you'll pay in the long run.

LMI and your loan-to-value ratio (LVR)

Your loan-to-value ratio (LVR) is a crucial factor when it comes to LMI. LVR is the percentage of the property's value that you're borrowing from the lender. For example, if you're purchasing a $ 500,000 property with a $100,000 deposit, your LVR would be 80%.

As a rule of thumb, the higher your LVR, the higher your LMI premium will be. This is because a higher LVR means you're borrowing more money relative to the property's value, which increases the lender's risk.

Refinancing and LMI

If you're considering refinancing your mortgage, you might be wondering whether you'll need to pay LMI again. The answer to this question depends on your current LVR. If your LVR is still above the LMI threshold (typically 80%), you may need to pay LMI on your new mortgage. However, if you've built up enough equity in your property, bringing your LVR below the threshold, you might be able to avoid LMI when refinancing.

Let's take a look at an example:

Imagine you purchased a property for $500,000 with a 10% deposit, and you borrowed $450,000. After five years, you've paid off $ 50,000 of the principal, and the property has increased in value to $550,000. Your remaining loan balance is $400,000, which is roughly 73% of the property's new value. In this case, you may be able to refinance without paying LMI, as your is now below 80%.

Pros and cons of LMI

As with most things in life, there are pros and cons to LMI:


1. Access to homeownership sooner: LMI allows you to buy a property with a smaller deposit, which can help you enter the property market sooner than if you had to save up a full 20% deposit.

2. More borrowing options: With LMI, you might have access to a wider range of loan products and lenders, giving you more choice and flexibility.


1. Additional cost: LMI adds an extra expense to your home loan, which can be thousands of dollars, depending on your situation.

2. Increased loan amount: Since LMI is usually added to your loan amount, it means you'll be borrowing more money and paying more interest over the life of your loan.


So there you have it – everything you need to know about Lenders Mortgage Insurance, complete with examples and a couple of jokes to keep things light-hearted. While LMI might seem like an added burden when you're just trying to get your foot on the property ladder, it does serve a purpose. It offers a safety net for lenders while also giving you the opportunity to buy your dream home sooner.

Remember, when it comes to LMI, the key is to weigh the pros and cons and consider your individual circumstances. While LMI might seem like an added burden when you're just trying to get your foot on the property ladder, it does serve a purpose. It offers a safety net for lenders, while also giving you the opportunity to buy your dream home sooner.

Remember, when it comes to LMI, the key is to weigh the pros and cons and consider your individual circumstances. Are you eager to enter the property market right away, or are you willing to wait and save up a larger deposit? If you're unsure, consult with your trusty mortgage broker (that's me!) to help you navigate the world of LMI and find the right mortgage solution for you.

And just for laughs, here's one last joke before we part ways:

Why did the scarecrow win an award? Because he was outstanding in his field!

Happy house hunting, and may the odds be ever in your favour when it comes to navigating the world of mortgages and LMI.

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