This relates to the United States.
It seems that many sources that talk about mortgages talk about how consumers are required by mortgage lenders to take out PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance), and the article attempts to let people know that it can be canceled if you have been making satisfactory progress on your mortgage and you have sufficient equity. In other words, it is spoken of as something bad for the consumer and a money sink.
My understanding is that if foreclosure happens, the lender seizes the home and sells it at auction. If the proceeds of the sale don’t pay off the mortgage, the PMI pays out and the lender gets the difference between the sale price and the mortgage balance.
Now, if you default on a car loan and the bank repossesses and sells and the car sells for less than the loan balance, the lender can turn around and sue you for a “deficiency judgment”. Does this happen with mortgages? If it does, I can see PMI as insurance against being forced to pay a deficiency judgment on the home you already lost. If a mortgage lender would otherwise have to eat the loss (like a pawnshop proprietor who gives you a $200 loan on a guitar which you fail to pay off and the broker puts the guitar up for sale, but the pawnbroker can’t find anyone willing to pay more than $150 for the guitar and takes a loss), I can see how PMI can be seen as a losing proposition for the homeowner, and that the reason people take out PMI coverage in the first place is that the lender will deny the loan otherwise.
It also feels like there could be a bit of a moral hazard - if you don’t mind losing your home, you can intentionally default and force a PMI payout - what if your uncle was the lender and you decided to default on your home in order to give him a windfall?
What is the straight dope?