Reverse mortgages (also called home equity conversion loans) enable elderly homeowners to tap into their equity without selling their home. The lender pays you money based on the equity you’ve accrued in your home; you receive a lump sum, a monthly payment or a line of credit. Repayment is not necessary until the borrower sells the property, moves into a retirement community or passes away. When you sell your home or no longer use it as your primary residence, you or your estate must repay the cash you received from the reverse mortgage plus interest and other finance charges to the lender.
In the event of death or in the event that the home ceases to be the primary residence for more than 12 months, the homeowner’s estate can choose to repay the reverse mortgage loan or put the home up for sale.
If the equity in the home is higher than the balance of the loan when the home is sold to repay the loan, the remaining equity belongs to the estate.
If the sale of the home is not enough to pay off the reverse mortgage, the lender must take a loss and request reimbursement from the FHA. No other assets are affected by a reverse mortgage. For example, investments, second homes, cars, and other valuable possessions cannot be taken from the estate to pay off the reverse mortgage.
Most reverse mortgages require you be at least 62 years of age, have a low or zero balance owed against your home and maintain the property as your principal residence.
Reverse mortgages are ideal for homeowners who are retired or no longer working and need to supplement their income. Interest rates can be fixed or adjustable and the money is non-taxable and, in most instances, does not interfere with Social Security or Medicare benefits. Your lender cannot take property away if you outlive your loan nor can you be forced to sell your home to pay off your loan even if the loan balance grows to exceed property value.
There are several ways to receive the proceeds from a reverse mortgage.
- Lump sum – a lump sum of cash at closing.
- Tenure – equal monthly payments as long as the homeowner lives in the home.
- Term – equal monthly payments for a fixed number of years.
- Line of Credit – draw any amount at any time until the line of credit is exhausted.
- Any combination of those listed above
The amount that is available generally depends on four factors: age, current interest rate, appraised value of the home and government imposed lending limits.
A reverse mortgage is a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage, which is an FHA-insured, government-regulated mortgage loan. Property and borrower eligibility requirements apply. Loan becomes due and payable when the last remaining borrower (or eligible spouse) sells the property, permanently leaves the home or passes away. Taxes, insurance, and repairs are the responsibility of the borrower and must be maintained to avoid early repayment of the entire loan amount. Consult a tax advisor for questions about tax and government benefit implications. Subject to credit approval as well as specific program requirements and guidelines.