Avoiding private mortgage insurance trap

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DEAR BERNICE: We just received a letter from our mortgage company telling us that they can lower our monthly payment by $100 per month if we refinance our house. We have owned our house for five years and estimate that we have about a 20 percent equity position. After discussing this situation with the lender, I discovered that all the lender was going to do was to drop our private mortgage insurance (PMI). When I asked why the lender couldn't just drop it without us having to refinance, the lender told me it wasn't possible unless we refinanced. Lowering our payment by $100 per month would really help us out. Do we have any other alternatives? --Shane B.DEAR SHANE: I continue to hear stories from homeowners who are experiencing what resembles a bait and switch from their lenders. The scenario goes something like this: "We can help you lower your monthly payments" or "You have been preapproved for lower payments on your current loan." The homeowners then submit all ...