6 Things You Need to Know Before Getting a Reverse Mortgage

Nov 16, 2023 6 Min Read

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Reverse mortgages can be an invaluable financial tool!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article belong to an independent guest author and not Leaderonomics, its directors, affiliates, or employees. This is not financial or investment advice. Please do your own research and evaluate your risk appetite before investing.

As retirement approaches and financial concerns become increasingly prominent, many seniors find themselves looking for ways to secure their financial future. One option that often comes up is a reverse mortgage.

Reverse mortgages offer senior homeowners aged 62 or older a way to access home equity while remaining in their homes. Yet before diving headfirst into one, it's essential to understand exactly what you are getting into. Here we explore six essential facts you need to consider before getting one.

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What Is a Reverse Mortgage?

Reverse mortgages are loans tailored specifically for senior citizens that enable homeowners to convert some of their home equity into tax-free income without needing to sell it or make monthly mortgage payments. 

Instead, these loans will be paid back when selling, moving out, or passing away. The most common loan is the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM), which is insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). In fact, from October 1, 2021, until September 30, 2022, a total of 64,489 HECM loans were recorded within the United States.

Eligibility and Requirements

Navigating the realm of reverse mortgages requires a firm grasp of eligibility criteria and the significance of choosing the right specialist. 

First and foremost, age is a defining factor; to qualify for a reverse mortgage, you must be at least 62 years old, and the older you are, the more substantial your borrowing potential becomes. Owning your home outright or having a mortgage balance low enough to be paid off using the reverse mortgage funds is another crucial requirement. Your home should also serve as your primary residence and adhere to specific FHA standards, with certain conditions making condos and manufactured homes eligible.

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Moreover, finding the right reverse mortgage specialist cannot be overstated. It's advisable to research a "reverse mortgage specialist near me" to connect with an expert who can expertly guide you through the process. Before proceeding with a reverse mortgage, you must attend a mandatory counselling session led by a HUD-approved counsellor. This session is far from a mere formality. It's a pivotal step to ensure you are well informed about the implications and responsibilities entailed in a reverse mortgage, underscoring the need for careful consideration in this financial endeavour.

Supplementary reading: What Are the Requirements to Be a Mortgage Broker?

How Can You Borrow Through Reverse Mortgage?

Your borrowing capacity with a reverse mortgage depends on several factors, including age, the home's appraised value, and current interest rates. As you age more equity is unlocked. Furthermore, interest rates play a crucial role in your borrowing ability so you must shop around to find the most competitive offer.

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Borrowers cannot receive more than this established limit, regardless of the home's appraised value.

Repayment and Interest

One of the key aspects of a reverse mortgage loan is understanding its repayment. Unlike a traditional mortgage loan, which requires monthly payments, a reverse mortgage loan only becomes due when one of three events occurs—when you sell the house, move out of the home, or pass away.

As your loan payments come due, your (or your heirs’) repayment includes the loan amount, interest, fees, or closing costs, plus any equity that has accumulated in the home. If the value has appreciated considerably since taking out the loan, your heirs may opt to sell and use the proceeds towards paying off their loans while keeping any extra proceeds as profit.

Costs and Fees

While reverse mortgages offer financial relief, they come with various fees and costs that can impact the amount you receive. Some common expenses associated with reverse mortgages include closing costs, mortgage insurance premiums (MIP), and servicing fees.

Closing costs are similar to those of a traditional mortgage and include fees for the appraisal, title insurance, and more. Mortgage insurance premiums (MIP) are mandatory for all HECMs. They include an initial MIP and an annual premium that is added to the loan balance. Insurance provides the lender with protection should the loan balance exceed the value of their home at repayment time. Lenders often charge servicing fees for tasks like disbursing payments and sending statements.

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It's crucial to carefully review all the associated costs and fees, as they can significantly affect the total amount you receive from the reverse mortgage.

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Risks and Considerations

Before getting a reverse mortgage, it's essential to consider the potential risks and drawbacks:

  • Inheritance Reduce: Reverse mortgages may reduce the inheritance you leave your heirs as the loan balance must be repaid from the proceeds of selling the home. 
  • Home Equity Erosion: Over time, loan balances can accumulate leading to erosion in home equity.
  • Interest Accumulation: Reverse mortgage interest can add significantly to the total amount owed over time if you remain in your home for an extended period.
  • Housing Market Fluctuations: Should the value of your home decline, it may no longer cover its loan balance and could require your heirs to make up the difference themselves.
  • Impact on Government Assistance: Your use of funds from a reverse mortgage could alter eligibility for certain federal assistance programs.
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Reverse mortgages can be an invaluable financial tool for seniors looking to unlock home equity while remaining in their residences. However, any potential reverse mortgage applicants must do their research thoroughly and understand all associated costs, obligations, and potential risks before making their decision. Speaking to a financial advisor or counsellor is also vital as informed decisions help give peace of mind that will safeguard future finances with certainty.

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Igor Zagradanin is a content marketing expert with a proven track record of helping businesses by adding value to their brands, developing content marketing strategies, as well as educating and connecting with their audiences on a personal level.


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