Reverse Mortgage Guide With Types and Requirements


What Is a Reverse Mortgage?

A reverse mortgage is a mortgage, within the sense that it permits an eligible home-owner to borrow cash however it does not work the identical manner as a house buy mortgage. A home-owner who’s 62 or older and has appreciable residence fairness can borrow towards the worth of their residence and obtain funds as a lump sum, fastened month-to-month fee, or line of credit score. Not like a ahead mortgage—that means the kind used to purchase a house—a reverse mortgage doesn’t require the home-owner to make any mortgage funds throughout their lifetime.

As a substitute, your complete mortgage steadiness, as much as a restrict, turns into due and payable when the borrower dies, strikes out completely, or sells the house. Federal laws require lenders to construction the transaction in order that the mortgage quantity will not exceed the house’s worth. Even when it does, by way of a drop within the residence’s market worth or if the borrower lives longer than anticipated, the borrower or borrower’s property gained’t be held liable for paying the lender the distinction because of this system’s mortgage insurance coverage.

Key Takeaways

  • A reverse mortgage is a kind of residence mortgage for seniors ages 62 and older.
  • Reverse mortgage loans enable householders to transform their residence fairness into money revenue with no month-to-month mortgage funds.
  • Reverse mortgages could be a nice monetary choice for some seniors however a poor monetary choice for others.
  • You should definitely perceive how reverse mortgages work and what they imply for you and your loved ones earlier than borrowing.

How Does A Reverse Mortgage Work?

Money in Fairness

Reverse mortgages can present much-needed money for seniors whose web price is usually tied up of their residence fairness: their residence’s market worth minus the quantity of any excellent residence loans. But, these loans might be expensive and complicated, which can make them extra appropriate for some householders than others.

Based on the Nationwide Reverse Mortgage Lenders Affiliation, householders ages 62 and older held $11.2 trillion in residence fairness within the first quarter (Q1) of 2022. The quantity marks an all-time excessive since measurement started in 2000, underscoring how massive a supply of wealth residence fairness is for retirement-age adults.

House fairness is barely usable wealth in case you promote and downsize or borrow towards that fairness. That’s the place reverse mortgages come into play, particularly for retirees with restricted incomes and few different property—but additionally for retirees who wish to diversify their revenue and cut back funding threat, sequence threat, and longevity threat. Reverse mortgages additionally present a supply of money with out requiring month-to-month debt funds.

The Client Monetary Safety Bureau (CFPB) warns householders towards reverse mortgage scams, which may goal unsuspecting seniors with the intention to get them handy over cash by way of fraudulent means.

How a Reverse Mortgage Works

With a reverse mortgage, as a substitute of the home-owner making funds to the lender, the lender makes funds to the home-owner. The home-owner will get to decide on the way to obtain these funds (we’ll clarify the alternatives within the subsequent part) and solely pays curiosity on the proceeds obtained. The curiosity is rolled into the mortgage steadiness in order that the home-owner doesn’t pay something upfront. The home-owner additionally retains the title to the house. Over the mortgage’s life, the home-owner’s debt will increase and residential fairness decreases.

As with a ahead mortgage, the house is the collateral for a reverse mortgage. When the home-owner strikes or dies, the proceeds from the house’s sale go to the lender to repay the reverse mortgage’s principal, curiosity, mortgage insurance coverage, and charges. Any sale proceeds past what was borrowed go to the home-owner (if nonetheless dwelling) or the home-owner’s property (if the home-owner has died). In some instances, the heirs could select to repay the mortgage in order that they will maintain the house.

Reverse mortgage proceeds aren’t taxable. Whereas they may really feel like revenue to the home-owner, the Inner Income Service (IRS)considers the cash to be a mortgage advance.

Varieties of Reverse Mortgages

There are three sorts of reverse mortgages. The commonest is the house fairness conversion mortgage (HECM). The HECM represents nearly the entire reverse mortgages that lenders supply on residence values beneath the conforming mortgage restrict (set yearly by the Federal Housing Finance Company) and is the kind that you just’re most definitely to get, in order that’s the kind that this text will talk about. Additionally referred to as a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) reverse mortgage, any such mortgage is barely out there by way of an FHA-approved lender.

If your property is price extra, nevertheless, you may look right into a jumbo reverse mortgage, additionally referred to as a proprietary reverse mortgage. 

Once you take out a reverse mortgage, you may select to obtain the proceeds in considered one of six methods:

  1. Lump sum: Get all of the proceeds directly when your mortgage closes. That is the one choice that comes with a set rate of interest. The opposite 5 have adjustable rates of interest.
  2. Equal month-to-month funds (annuity): For so long as at the very least one borrower lives within the residence as a principal residence, the lender will make regular funds to the borrower. That is also called a tenure plan.
  3. Time period funds: The lender offers the borrower equal month-to-month funds for a set interval of the borrower’s selecting, similar to 10 years.
  4. Line of credit score: Cash is out there for the home-owner to borrow as wanted. The home-owner solely pays curiosity on the quantities really borrowed from the credit score line.
  5. Equal month-to-month funds plus a line of credit score: The lender gives regular month-to-month funds for so long as at the very least one borrower occupies the house as a principal residence. If the borrower wants more cash at any level, they will entry the road of credit score.
  6. Time period funds plus a line of credit score: The lender offers the borrower equal month-to-month funds for a set interval of the borrower’s selecting, similar to 10 years. If the borrower wants more cash throughout or after that time period, they will entry the road of credit score.

It’s additionally doable to make use of a reverse mortgage referred to as a “HECM for buy” to purchase a special residence than the one by which you at the moment dwell.

In any case, you’ll usually want at the very least 50% fairness—primarily based on your property’s present worth, not what you paid for it—to qualify for a reverse mortgage.


The variety of reverse mortgages issued in the US in 2021, up 36% from the earlier 12 months.

Who Is a Reverse Mortgage Proper For?

A reverse mortgage may sound rather a lot like a house fairness mortgage or a house fairness line of credit score (HELOC). Certainly, just like considered one of these loans, a reverse mortgage can present a lump sum or a line of credit score that you could entry as wanted, primarily based on how a lot of your property you’ve paid off and your property’s market worth. However not like a house fairness mortgage or a HELOC, you don’t have to have an revenue or good credit score to qualify, and also you gained’t make any mortgage funds whilst you occupy the house as your major residence.

A reverse mortgage is the one option to entry residence fairness with out promoting the house for seniors who:

  • Don’t need the accountability of creating a month-to-month mortgage fee
  • Cannot afford a month-to-month mortgage fee
  • Can’t qualify for a house fairness mortgage or cash-out refinance due to restricted money circulation or poor credit score

After all, these seniors may nonetheless faucet into different sorts of loans. Unsecured private loans, as an example, can present a lump sum of money with out utilizing the house as collateral. Nonetheless, that sort of mortgage would require month-to-month reimbursement.

What Is Required for a Reverse Mortgage?

Property Kind

In the event you personal a home, condominium, or townhouse, or a manufactured residence constructed on or after June 15, 1976, then chances are you’ll be eligible for a reverse mortgage. Below FHA guidelines, cooperative housing homeowners can not get hold of reverse mortgages since they do not technically personal the true property they dwell in: they personal shares of an organization. In New York, the place co-ops are frequent, state regulation additional prohibits reverse mortgages in co-ops, permitting them solely in one- to four-family residences and condos.

Age, Fairness, and Charges

Whereas reverse mortgages don’t have revenue or credit score rating necessities, they nonetheless have guidelines about who qualifies. You have to be at the very least 62 years outdated, and you need to both personal your property free and clear or have a considerable quantity of fairness (at the very least 50%). Debtors should pay an origination payment, an up-front mortgage insurance coverage premium, different normal closing prices, ongoing mortgage insurance coverage premiums (MIPs), mortgage servicing charges (typically), and curiosity. The federal authorities limits how a lot lenders can cost for a lot of of this stuff.


The U.S. Division of Housing and City Improvement (HUD) requires all potential reverse mortgage debtors to finish a HUD-approved counseling session. This counseling session, which normally prices round $125, ought to take at the very least 90 minutes and canopy the professionals and cons of taking out a reverse mortgage given your distinctive monetary and private circumstances. It ought to clarify how a reverse mortgage may have an effect on your eligibility for Medicaid and Supplemental Safety Earnings (SSI). The counselor also needs to go over the alternative ways that you could obtain the proceeds.

Collateral Safety

Your tasks beneath the reverse mortgage guidelines are to remain present on property taxes and householders insurance coverage (and householders affiliation charges, if in case you have them) and maintain the house in good restore. And in case you cease dwelling in the home for longer than one 12 months—even when it’s since you’re dwelling in a long-term care facility for medical causes—then you definately’ll should repay the mortgage, which is normally completed by promoting the home.

What Are the Prices of a Reverse Mortgage?

HUD adjusted insurance coverage premiums for reverse mortgages in October 2017. Since lenders can’t ask householders or their heirs to pay up if the mortgage steadiness grows bigger than the house’s worth, the insurance coverage premiums present a pool of funds that lenders can draw on in order that they don’t lose cash when this occurs.

One change was a rise within the up-front premium, from 0.5% to 2.0%, for 3 out of 4 debtors and a lower within the up-front premium, from 2.5% to 2.0%, for the opposite one out of 4 debtors. The up-front premium was tied to how a lot debtors took out within the first 12 months, with householders who took out essentially the most—as a result of they wanted to repay an current mortgage—paying the upper fee. Now, all debtors pay the identical 2.0% fee. The up-front premium is calculated primarily based on the house’s worth, so for each $100,000 in appraised worth, you pay $2,000. That’s $6,000 on a $300,000 home, for instance. In reality, the payment is capped at $6,000, even when your property is price extra.

All debtors should additionally pay annual MIPs of 0.5% (previously 1.25%) of the quantity borrowed. This modification saves debtors $750 a 12 months for each $100,000 borrowed and helps offset the upper up-front premium. It additionally signifies that the borrower’s debt grows extra slowly, preserving extra of the home-owner’s fairness over time, offering a supply of funds later in life, and growing the potential of with the ability to go down the house to heirs.

Reverse Mortgage Curiosity Charges

Solely the lump sum (single disbursement) reverse mortgage, which supplies you the entire proceeds directly when your mortgage closes, has a set rate of interest. The opposite 5 choices have adjustable rates of interest, which is smart because you’re borrowing cash over a few years, not abruptly, and rates of interest are all the time altering. Variable-rate reverse mortgages are tied to a benchmark index, usually the Fixed Maturity Treasury (CMT) index.

Along with one of many base charges, the lender provides a margin of 1 to 3 share factors. So if the index fee is 2.5% and the lender’s margin is 2%, then your reverse mortgage rate of interest can be 4.5%. Curiosity compounds over the lifetime of the reverse mortgage, and your credit score rating doesn’t have an effect on your reverse mortgage fee or your skill to qualify (although it does have an effect on whether or not the lender could require a Life Expectancy Set Apart account in your property taxes, householders insurance coverage, and different required property prices).

How A lot Can You Borrow with a Reverse Mortgage?

The proceeds that you just’ll obtain from a reverse mortgage will rely upon the lender and your fee plan. For an HECM, the quantity that you could borrow can be primarily based on the youngest borrower’s age, the mortgage’s rate of interest, and the lesser of your property’s appraised worth or the FHA’s most declare quantity, which is $970,800 as of Jan. 1, 2022.

Nonetheless, you may’t borrow 100% of what your property is price, or anyplace near it. A part of your property fairness have to be used to pay the mortgage’s bills, together with mortgage premiums and curiosity. Listed here are a couple of different issues that it’s essential to find out about how a lot you may borrow:

  • The mortgage proceeds are primarily based on the age of the youngest borrower or, if the borrower is married, the youthful partner, even when the youthful partner is just not a borrower. The older the youngest borrower is, the upper the mortgage proceeds.
  • The decrease the mortgage fee, the extra you may borrow.
  • The upper your property’s appraised worth, the extra you may borrow.
  • A robust reverse mortgage monetary evaluation will increase the proceeds that you just’ll obtain as a result of the lender gained’t withhold a part of them to pay property taxes and householders insurance coverage in your behalf.

How a lot you may really borrow is predicated on what’s referred to as the preliminary principal restrict. The federal authorities lowered the preliminary principal restrict in October 2017, making it more durable for householders, particularly youthful ones, to qualify for a reverse mortgage. On the upside, the change helps debtors protect extra of their fairness. 

The federal government lowered the restrict for a similar cause that it modified insurance coverage premiums: as a result of the mortgage insurance coverage fund’s deficit had almost doubled over the previous fiscal 12 months. That is the fund that pays lenders and protects taxpayers from reverse mortgage losses.

To additional complicate issues, you may’t borrow your entire preliminary principal restrict within the first 12 months if you select a lump sum or a line of credit score. As a substitute, you may borrow as much as 60%, or extra in case you’re utilizing the cash to repay your ahead mortgage. In the event you select a lump sum, the quantity that you just get upfront is all you’ll ever get. In the event you select the road of credit score, then your credit score line will develop over time, however solely if in case you have unused funds in your line.

Avoiding Reverse Mortgage Scams

With a product as probably profitable as a reverse mortgage and a weak inhabitants of debtors who could both have cognitive impairments or be desperately looking for monetary salvation, scams abound. Unscrupulous distributors and residential enchancment contractors have focused seniors to assist them safe reverse mortgages to pay for residence enhancements—in different phrases, to allow them to make financial institution. The seller or contractor could or could not really ship on promised, high quality work; they may simply steal the home-owner’s cash.

Kin, caregivers, and monetary advisors have additionally taken benefit of seniors both by utilizing an influence of legal professional to reverse mortgage the house, then stealing the proceeds or by convincing them to purchase a monetary product, similar to an annuity or entire life insurance coverage coverage, that the senior can solely afford by acquiring a reverse mortgage. This transaction is prone to be solely within the so-called finest curiosity of the monetary advisor, relative, or caregiver. These are only a few of the reverse mortgage scams that may journey up unwitting householders.

Methods to Keep away from Reverse Mortgage Foreclosures

One other hazard related to a reverse mortgage is the potential of foreclosures. Regardless that the borrower isn’t liable for making any mortgage funds—and due to this fact can’t change into delinquent on them—a reverse mortgage requires the borrower to satisfy sure circumstances. Failing to satisfy these circumstances permits the lender to foreclose.

As a reverse mortgage borrower, you’re required to dwell within the residence and preserve it. If the house falls into disrepair, it gained’t be price honest market worth when it’s time to promote, and the lender gained’t be capable of recoup the total quantity that it has prolonged to the borrower.

Reverse mortgage debtors are additionally required to remain present on property taxes and householders insurance coverage. Once more, the lender imposes these necessities to guard its curiosity within the residence. In the event you don’t pay your property taxes, then your native tax authority can seize the home. In the event you don’t have householders insurance coverage and there’s a home fireplace, the lender’s collateral is broken.

Within the case of a HUD-backed HECM, you will want to have the ability to present proof of monetary property or sources to pay these prices with the intention to qualify.

Is a Reverse Mortgage Costly?

When Do You Should Repay a Reverse Mortgage?

The lender would require the borrower to repay the reverse mortgage if the borrower does any of this stuff:

  • sells the house
  • resides exterior the house for greater than a 12 months
  • passes away
  • fail to take care of the property
  • stops paying your householders insurance coverage premiums or property taxes

There are some exceptions to those guidelines for eligible non-borrowing spouses who wish to maintain dwelling within the residence after their borrowing partner passes away.

Can You Owe Extra Than the House Is Price with a Reverse Mortgage?

Your mortgage steadiness may develop greater than your property’s worth, however lenders can’t go after debtors or their heirs if the house seems to be underwater when the mortgage is due. The mortgage insurance coverage premiums that debtors pay go right into a fund that covers lenders losses when this occurs.

Can You Refinance a Reverse Mortgage?

Sure, you may refinance a reverse mortgage. Due to the origination payment, upfront mortgage insurance coverage premium, and different closing prices, refinancing a reverse mortgage needs to be reserved for conditions the place a partner must be added to the mortgage, extra fairness is required, or the rate of interest might be lowered considerably.

The Backside Line

A reverse mortgage could be a useful monetary instrument for senior householders who perceive how the loans work and what tradeoffs are concerned. Ideally, anybody inquisitive about taking out a reverse mortgage will take the time to completely find out about how these loans work. That manner, no unscrupulous lender or predatory scammer can make the most of them, they’ll be capable of make a sound choice even when they get a poor-quality reverse mortgage counselor, and the mortgage gained’t include any disagreeable surprises.

Reverse mortgages might be sophisticated merchandise and debtors would do effectively to coach themselves about it to ensure that they’re making the only option about the way to use their residence fairness. Additional, they need to store round for the most effective reverse mortgage corporations and never go together with the primary lender who solicits their enterprise. Charges and charges can range extensively amongst lenders; the federal authorities doesn’t set reverse mortgage charges.

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