Part of a series:
- Getting rid of PMI (part 1): The P stands for “parasite”
- Getting rid of PMI (part 2): The M stands for “misdirection”
- Getting rid of PMI (part 3): The I stands for “I already told you”
- Getting rid of PMI (part 4): Hard work vs. a risky shortcut
- Getting rid of PMI (part 5): The moment of truth?
So I had decided that the least risky path in my goal to remove PMI from my mortgage was to skip any shenanigans about getting my property reappraised. Instead, I took the more boring option, and I would just pay my mortgage down to 80%. I would pay a little extra each month, and I would dip into my savings a bit in order to help reduce the principal more quickly, but that was it.
In October of this year, I achieved this goal. Success!
But did it even matter, unless SunTrust was willing to remove PMI from my mortgage?
Like a mail-in rebate
Recall that the law states that you can request removal of PMI once your LTV reaches 80%.
(And recall that we’re only talking about conventional mortgages here. FHA loans and other variants have different rules.)
But how do you request such a thing?
SunTrust as a servicing company has been fine to me, but as far as their customer service department, their lack of consistency makes me not trust them very much. Which is why I tend to call multiple times, to see if I can get the same story.
I had the sense that removing PMI was kind of like one of those manufacturer’s rebates that you have to send away for. You will eventually get it if you’re persistent, but they are not going to make it easy for you.
So I called SunTrust on more than one occasion and not surprisingly got different answers. At first they told me to mail in a request, and then they said that I could just (of course) send a Secure Message.
My gut told me that the more annoying option would be the correct one, and I mailed away a letter.
The following is exactly what I wrote to SunTrust:
To whom it may concern:
I am writing to request cancelation of PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance) on my loan. As of November 2, 2017, my LTV is 79.5% (current principal balance: $___________), and therefore I believe I am eligible to have this payment removed from my mortgage.
Here are my loan details:
Loan Number: __________________________
Here is the mailing address they gave me. Note that I can’t guarantee that your mailing address would be the same.
SunTrust Mortgage Inc.
Attn: PMI / MIP Processing Department VA-RVW-0532
PO Box 26149
Richmond, VA 23260-6149
I sent the letter certified mail with return receipt (a tactic I’ve learned over the years from mailing in rebates) to ensure that the other party can’t say they never received something.
And I waited.
My next monthly statement
I get monthly emails from SunTrust telling me that my upcoming statement is due. I usually don’t pay much attention to them, because they say the same thing every month.
This time, though, something was different. Specifically, my payment amount.
It was lower.
Not by much, but by some.
I pulled out my calculator, and saw that my payment amount was lower by the exact amount of my PMI.
What was going on?
I logged into my account. Sure enough, under “General Loan Information” where the “Loan Type” usually said “Conventional with PMI”, it now said merely “Conventional”.
Holy cow. They had removed PMI from my mortgage.
Moreover, they had done so without telling me.
I couldn’t believe it. This was a week after I had sent the letter to them. I expected pushback. I expected “please allow 4-6 weeks for processing“. I even expected “we never received any request from you“.
But no. It just…happened.
It was an anticlimax, but I’ll take it.
As a final move, I upped my monthly payment by the same amount that I had been paying in PMI, thus making my payoff happen faster without changing anything for me.
Now I’m one step closer to paying off this mortgage, defeating debt’s final boss character, and being debt free once again.