Demystifying Up-Front Mortgage Insurance (UFMI) – What You Need to Know


Up-front mortgage insurance (UFMI) plays a crucial role in securing FHA loans, protecting lenders in case of defaults. In this comprehensive guide, we explore UFMI, how it works, pros and cons, and strategies to avoid it. Discover the key takeaways to make informed mortgage decisions.

What is up-front mortgage insurance (UFMI)?

When it comes to securing a mortgage, understanding the nuances of different types of insurance is crucial. Up-front Mortgage Insurance (UFMI) is a concept often encountered by homebuyers, especially those pursuing Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans. UFMI is distinct from Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI), which is associated with conventional loans. In this comprehensive article, we will delve into UFMI, its intricacies, and everything you need to know to make informed mortgage decisions.
Up-front mortgage insurance, commonly referred to as UFMI, is an additional insurance premium collected primarily on FHA loans. Unlike PMI, which is paid on a monthly basis when a homebuyer’s down payment is less than 20% of the purchase price, UFMI is a one-time payment made at the inception of the loan. This premium is designed to support entities like the FHA in insuring loans for specific borrowers.
UFMI serves a vital purpose: it safeguards the lender in the event of a borrower’s default on mortgage payments. When borrowers have minimal equity in their homes, the risk of default is heightened, as they have less to lose by abandoning their property. UFMI provides a safety net, ensuring that the lender can recover its losses if the borrower defaults.

FHA loans and UFMI

FHA loans are known for their lenient down-payment requirements, often as low as 3.5% of the home’s purchase price, and more relaxed income and credit standards compared to conventional loans. Due to the increased risk associated with lower down payments, UFMI is applied to FHA loans. Since 2015, the UFMI rate has been fixed at 1.75% of the base loan amount. Borrowers have the choice of paying this amount upfront or rolling it into their total mortgage. However, it’s essential to note that rolling it into the loan can lead to higher long-term costs.

In addition to UFMI, borrowers are required to make ongoing mortgage insurance premium (MIP) payments, which typically range from 0.45% to 1.05% of the total mortgage. These payments continue until the loan-to-value ratio reaches a certain threshold, at which point the insurance is no longer mandatory. For FHA loans, this threshold is 22%. For loans with a term shorter than 15 years, the only requirement is a 78% loan-to-value ratio.

UFMI premium payments are sent directly to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and managed by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s automated collection service, stored in an escrow account.

Special considerations

A little-known fact is that homeowners may be eligible for pro-rated refunds of UFMI premiums if they paid the premium upfront and then sell their home within the first five to seven years of ownership. Eligibility typically requires having at least 22% equity in the property and maintaining on-time payments. Homeowners with FHA loans issued after June 2013 must refinance into a conventional loan and have a current loan-to-value ratio of 80% or more to qualify for a refund.

Tips to avoid paying up-front mortgage insurance (UFMI)

For homebuyers looking to minimize UFMI costs, there are several strategies to consider:

Apply for a conventional mortgage loan

Mortgage lenders typically do not require upfront mortgage insurance for conventional loans with an 80% loan-to-value ratio or less. This rule applies to both original home purchases and refinancing.

Make a 20% down payment

By making a 20% down payment, homebuyers reduce the lender’s risk, eliminating the need for mortgage insurance.

Get a second mortgage

A 5% down payment can be supplemented with a 15% second mortgage, or a 10% down payment with a 10% second mortgage, to achieve the 20% threshold and avoid mortgage insurance.

Seek seller assistance

Sellers with equity in their property can choose to finance a portion of the purchase price through a second mortgage. Combining this with the buyer’s down payment can help avoid mortgage insurance.

Is UFMI refundable?

The UFMI premium is generally non-refundable, except when refinancing into a new FHA-insured mortgage within three years of the original loan.

How is the FHA UFMI premium calculated?

The UFMI premium required by the FHA is a fixed percentage of the loan amount, set at 1.75%. For instance, on an initial loan of $200,000, the UFMI premium would amount to $3,500, making the total mortgage $203,500, including the UFMI premium.

Can the UFMI be paid in cash or financed into the loan payments?

The UFMI premium can be paid either in cash or financed into the loan. However, it must be paid in full through one method or the other; it cannot be split between cash and financing. Any cash payments for UFMI are added to the total cash settlement requirements.



Here is a list of the benefits and drawbacks to consider.

  • Protection for lenders in case of borrower default
  • Lower down-payment requirements for FHA loans
  • Additional upfront cost for borrowers
  • Potentially higher long-term mortgage expenses when rolled into the loan

Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between UFMI and PMI?

UFMI is an upfront premium collected on FHA loans, paid at loan inception. PMI, on the other hand, is a monthly premium for conventional loans, paid when a buyer’s down payment is less than 20%.

Can I get a refund for UFMI?

UFMI premiums are typically non-refundable, except when refinancing into a new FHA-insured mortgage within three years of the original loan. Specific eligibility criteria apply.

How can I avoid paying UFMI?

To avoid UFMI, consider applying for a conventional mortgage loan with an 80% loan-to-value ratio or making a 20% down payment. Alternatively, explore options like obtaining a second mortgage or seeking seller assistance.

Key takeaways

  • Up-front mortgage insurance (UFMI) is an additional premium collected on FHA loans, protecting lenders in case of borrower defaults.
  • Borrowers can choose to pay UFMI upfront or roll it into their mortgage, with considerations for long-term costs.
  • To avoid UFMI, explore options like applying for conventional loans with an 80% loan-to-value ratio, making a 20% down payment, obtaining a second mortgage, or seeking seller assistance.
View Article Sources
  1. Chapter 7. Mortgage Insurance Premiums (MIP) – University of North Texas
  2. Upfront Guarantee Fee & Annual Fee – U.S. Department of Agriculture
  3. Private Mortgage Insurance – SuperMoney
  4. The Pros and Cons of Mortgage Life Insurance – SuperMoney