Mortgage Insurance Returns: Is It Right for You?

Private mortgage insurance was all the rage when housing prices were high and down payments were tiny. But ever since the housing bubble burst, people seeking to buy a home with less than 20 percent down -- especially in declining markets such as Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan and Nevada -- had nowhere to turn for a loan other than the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).

But starting in March 2010, private mortgage insurers Genworth, MGIC and Radian opened their doors again to low down payments, even in declining markets.

Don't throw a party just yet, though.