Reverse Mortgages

If you are a homeowner age 62 or older and have paid off your mortgage or paid down a considerable amount, and are currently living in the home, you might consider a reverse mortgage.


What is a reverse mortgage?

Reverse mortgages are increasing in popularity with seniors who have equity in their homes and want to supplement their income. The only reverse mortgage insured by the U.S. Federal Government is called a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM), and is only available through a lender approved by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).

If you are a homeowner age 62 or older and have paid off your mortgage or paid down a considerable amount, and are currently living in the home, you may participate in FHA’s HECM program.

The HECM is FHA’s reverse mortgage program that enables you to withdraw a portion of your home’s equity. The amount that will be available for withdrawal varies by borrower and depends on:

  • Age of the youngest borrower or eligible non-borrowing spouse
  • Current interest rate
  • Lesser of appraised value or the HECM FHA mortgage limit or the sales price

If there is more than one borrower and no eligible non-borrowing spouse, the age of the youngest borrower is used to determine the amount you can borrow.

You can also use a HECM to purchase a primary residence if you are able to use cash on hand to pay the difference between the HECM proceeds and the sales price plus closing costs for the property you are purchasing.

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Reverse mortgages are complicated. Even for many seasoned lenders, they can be tough to navigate. To make matters worse, there’s a lot of misinformation and just plain bad advice out there. If you’d like to speak with some smart folks who can clear away the jargon and explain these loans in simple terms, you’ve come to the right place.

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How the HECM program works

There are many factors to consider before deciding whether a HECM is right for you. To aid in this process, you must meet with a HECM counselor to discuss program eligibility requirements, financial implications and alternatives to obtaining a HECM and repaying the loan.

Counselors will also discuss provisions for the mortgage becoming due and payable. Upon the completion of HECM counseling, you should be able to make an independent, informed decision of whether this product will meet your specific needs.

There are borrower and property eligibility requirements that must be met. You can use the listing below to see if you qualify. If you meet the eligibility criteria, you can complete a reverse mortgage application by contacting a FHA-approved lender. The lender will discuss other requirements of the HECM program, such as:

  • First year payment limitations
  • Available payment options
  • The loan approval process
  • Repayment terms

Borrower requirements

To qualify for an HECM reverse mortgage you must:

  • Be 62 years of age or older
  • Own the property outright or paid-down a considerable amount
  • Occupy the property as your principal residence
  • Not be delinquent on any federal debt
  • Be able to make timely payment of ongoing property charges
  • Participate in a consumer information session given by a HUD-approved HECM counselor

Property requirements

The following eligible property types must meet all FHA property standards and flood requirements:

  • Single family home or 2-4 unit home with one unit occupied by the borrower
  • HUD-approved condominium project
  • Manufactured home that meets FHA requirements

Financial requirements

  • Income, assets, monthly living expenses, and credit history will be verified.
  • Timely payment of real estate taxes, hazard and flood insurance premiums will be verified

Adjustable interest rate mortgages

For adjustable interest rate mortgages, you can select one of the following payment plans:

  • Tenure: Equal monthly payments as long as at least one borrower lives and continues to occupy the property as a principal residence.
  • Term: Equal monthly payments for a fixed period of months selected.
  • Line of credit: Unscheduled payments or in installments, at times and in an amount of your choosing until the line of credit is exhausted.
  • Modified tenure: Combination of line of credit and scheduled monthly payments for as long as you remain in the home.
  • Modified term: Combination of line of credit plus monthly payments for a fixed period of months selected by the borrower.

Fixed interest rate mortgages

For fixed interest rate mortgages, you will receive the Single Disbursement Lump Sum payment plan.

Allowed mortgage amount

The amount you may borrow will depend on:

  • Age of the youngest borrower or eligible non-borrowing spouse
  • Current interest rates
  • The lesser of:
    • Appraised property value
    • The HECM FHA mortgage limit
    • The sales price (only applicable to HECM for purchase)

If there is more than one borrower and no eligible non-borrowing spouse, the age of the youngest borrower is used to determine the amount you can borrow.

HECM costs

You can pay for most of the costs of a HECM by financing them and having them paid from the proceeds of the loan. Financing the costs means that you do not have to pay for them out of your pocket. On the other hand, financing the costs reduces the net loan amount available to you.

The HECM loan includes several fees and charges, which include:

  • Mortgage insurance premium: You will incur a cost for FHA mortgage insurance. The mortgage insurance guarantees that you will receive expected loan advances. You can finance the mortgage insurance premium (MIP) as part of your loan.
  • Third party charges: Closing costs from third parties can include an appraisal, title search and insurance, surveys, inspections, recording fees, mortgage taxes, credit checks and other fees.
  • Origination fees: You will pay an origination fee to compensate the lender for processing your HECM loan. A lender can charge the greater of $2,500 or 2% of the first $200,000 of your home’s value plus 1% of the amount over $200,000. HECM origination fees are capped at $6,000.
  • Interest: Interest accrued over the life of the loan.
  • Servicing fees: Lenders or their agents provide servicing throughout the life of the HECM. Servicing includes sending you account statements, disbursing loan proceeds and making certain that you keep up with loan requirements such as paying real estate taxes and hazard insurance premium.

You will be charged an initial mortgage insurance premium (MIP) at closing. The initial MIP will be 2%. Over the life of the loan, you will be charged an annual MIP that equals 0.5% of the outstanding mortgage balance. Your lender will discuss which fees and charges are mandatory.

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