What is a Reverse Mortgage

Simply stated, a reverse mortgage is a loan that enables homeowners (age 62 and older) to convert part of the equity in their home into a tax-free income without having to sell the home, give up the title, or take on a new monthly mortgage payment. More and more homeowners are using this to supplement their retirement income, pay for health care, modify their home, or just get some cash for emergencies. Since this is a new product, some people have misconceptions of what a reverse mortgage is. The bank doesn’t give you money and take your house. Let’s look at some of the most common questions.

Are reverse mortgages for desperate people? No. It is an excellent financial planning tool used from people of all walks of life. How do I qualify? You must be 62 or if both parties are on the mortgage, then you both must be at least 62. And, you must have equity in your home.

What if I still owe on my home? You may still qualify even if you have a balance on your first mortgage. The proceeds must be used to pay off the mortgage, first.

How much can I get? This depends on several factors such as, the age of your home, the value, your age at the time of closing, and interest rates.

Is it just monthly payments? No. You can get a lump sum, line of credit, monthly payments or a combination of monthly income and a line of credit.

But, won’t I have to pay taxes on these monthly payments to the government? No. The funds are tax-free. Its your money, not additional income.

Should I seek a lawyer or receive some counseling before I get a reverse mortgage. Yes. You must be counseled before receiving a reverse mortgage. You don’t have to talk to a lawyer or accountant, but it would be advised.

Who owns the title to my house? You still own the title.

What happens when I die? Once your home is passed on to your heirs, the mortgage becomes due. Your heirs may pay the mortgage and keep the home or sell the home and pay off the home. They may keep any excess sales proceeds.

What if I owe more than the house is worth? You can’t. Your repayment amount will never exceed the value of the home at the time the loan comes due. Also, there are no prepayment penalties.

Many of the same costs that someone pays to obtain a home purchase loan, or to refinance their existing mortgage, apply to reverse mortgages too. You can expect to be charged an origination fee, up-front mortgage insurance premium (for the FHA Home Equity Conversion Mortgage or HECM), an appraisal fee, and certain other standard closing costs.


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