Fannie Mae

5 things to know about mortgage insurance

It's getting easier to buy a home these days. Mortgage rates remain low, and many lenders offer mortgages with as little as a 5 percent down payment if you have good credit.

Lenders are typically protected from loss on mortgage loans by one of the government insurance programs, such as Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Or they require those with down payments of less than 20 percent to purchase private mortgage insurance (PMI) to protect the lender against loss if the homeowner defaults. PMI makes it possible for many people to get a mortgage. But beware. PMI can be costly and tricky.

Here are five things you should know:

--The cost of PMI depends on your credit, the amount...