10 Things to Know About A Reverse Mortgage

reverse mortageIn plain English, a reverse mortgage is nothing more than an equity loan secured by your home which is designed to defer the mortgage interest. It’s as simple as that.

The most common type of reverse mortgage is the Federal Housing Administration HECM, which is the acronym for Home Equity Conversion Mortgage. This product was created by FHA in 1989.

While a traditional home mortgage requires the homeowner to make scheduled monthly payments over a specified term, (usually 30 years) the reverse mortgage interest is not due until the loan reaches maturity. As long as the homeowner still resides in their property and pays their property taxes and insurance they can take advantage of not making monthly payments on the money they borrowed.

With a reverse mortgage you continue to own your home, paying your property taxes and homeowners insurance just as before. Like any mortgage, you will receive a monthly statement which will outline all interest charges and balance information. The only difference will be the absence of a coupon to return your monthly payment as no payment is necessary.

1. What reverse mortgage are not…

  • Just for the desperate
  • A trade for your home ownership
  • Free money from the government or any  other type of entitlement program

2. What are the qualifications?

Reverse mortgages are available to all US citizens and Permanent Residents age 62 or older with substantial equity in their home. The maximum loan amount you may qualify for is based on the youngest homeowner’s age, current rates, and home value. (visit our calculator to estimate your loan) There is no income or credit score requirements as there are no monthly repayments. You must continue living in your home as your primary residence and continue to pay your properties taxes and insurance.

To be eligible for a FHA HECM, the FHA requires you receive consumer information free or at very low cost from a HECM counselor prior to obtaining the loan. You can find a HECM counselor online or by phoning (800) 569-4287.

3. Can I apply for a HECM even if I did not buy my present house with FHA mortgage insurance?

Yes. You may apply for a HECM regardless of whether or not you purchased your home with an FHA-insured mortgage.

4. What types of homes are eligible?

To be eligible for the FHA HECM, your home must be a single family home or a 2-4 unit home with one unit occupied by the borrower. HUD-approved condominiums and manufactured homes that meet FHA requirements are also eligible.

5. What are the differences between a reverse mortgage and a home equity loan?

With a second mortgage, or a home equity line of credit, borrowers must have adequate income to qualify for the loan, and they make monthly payments on the principal and interest. A reverse mortgage is different, because it pays you – there are no monthly principal and interest payments. With a reverse mortgage, you are required to pay real estate taxes, utilities, and hazard and flood insurance premiums.

6. Will we have an estate that we can leave to heirs?

When the home is sold or no longer used as a primary residence, the cash, interest, and other HECM finance charges must be repaid. All proceeds beyond the amount owed belong to your spouse or estate. This means any remaining equity can be transferred to heirs. No debt is passed along to the estate or heirs.

7. How much money can I get from my home?

The amount you may borrower will depend on:

  • Age of the youngest borrower
  • Current interest rate
  • Lesser of appraised value or the HECM FHA mortgage limit of $625,500 or the sales price; and
  • Initial Mortgage Insurance Premium–your choices are HECM Standard or HECM SAVER

You can borrow more with the HECM Standard option. In addition, the more valuable your home is, the older you are, and the lower the interest rate, the more you can borrow. If there is more than one borrower, the age of the youngest borrower is used to determine the amount you can borrow. For an estimate of HECM cash benefits, select the online calculator from the HECM Home Page. Many online reverse mortgage calculators can provide you with an estimate of the amount of funds you can borrow.

8. Should I use an estate planning service to find a reverse mortgage lender?

FHA does NOT recommend using any service that charges a fee for referring a borrower to an FHA-approved lender. You can locate a FHA-approved lender by searching online at www.hud.gov or by contacting a HECM counselor for a listing. Services rendered by HECM counselors are free or at a low cost. To locate a HECM counselor Search online or call (800) 569-4287 toll-free, for the name and location of a HUD-approved housing counseling agency near you.

9. How do I receive my payments?

You can select from five 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.

 10. What if I change my mind and no longer want the loan after I go to closing? How do I do this?

By law, you have three calendar days to change your mind and cancel the loan. This is called a three day right of rescission. The process of canceling the loan should be explained at loan closing. Be sure to ask the lender for instructions on this process. Mortgage lenders differ in the process of canceling a loan.

You should ask for the names of the appropriate people, phone numbers, fax numbers, addresses, or written instructions on whatever process the company has in place. In most cases, the right of rescission will not be applicable to HECM for purchase transactions.

You can receive additional free information about reverse mortgages in general by contacting the National Council on Aging at (800) 510-0301 or downloading their free booklet, “Use Your Home to Stay at Home,” a guide for older homeowners who need help now. It is smart to know more about reverse mortgages, and decide if one is right for you!