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Is a reverse mortgage right for you?

Frequently Asked Questions About Reverse Mortgages

What is a reverse mortgage?

A reverse mortgage is a loan product that allows senior homeowners to convert home equity into cash. Most reverse mortgages are provided by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), as part of its Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) program.


How does a reverse mortgage work?

With a reverse mortgage, you receive money from your mortgage company as a loan secured against the equity in your home. The money is paid to you in a lump sum, through a line of credit, or as monthly payments. Fees and interest are charged on the loan amount (or “loan proceeds”); therefore, over time the loan balance increases and your home equity decreases.


What are the benefits of a reverse mortgage?

A reverse mortgage lets you use the value of your home to provide a source of income while allowing you to stay in the home. It may be an effective way to benefit from the money you’ve invested in your home over the years.


What are my obligations?

Having a reverse mortgage, you are required to:

  • Pay your property-related expenses on time. Property-related expenses include: real estate (property) taxes; utilities; homeowner’s (sometimes referred to as “HOA” fees) and/or condo association dues; homeowner’s insurance (also referred to as “hazard” insurance); and flood insurance premiums (if applicable).

  • Maintain the property’s condition. You must maintain the condition of your home at the same quality as it was kept at the time you took out the reverse mortgage loan.

  • Live in the property as your primary residence. You are required to certify this on an annual basis.


What happens if I don’t pay my property-related expenses or don’t maintain my home?

Not meeting the conditions of your reverse mortgage may put your loan in default. This means the mortgage company can demand the reverse mortgage balance be paid in full and may foreclose and sell the property.


Will I have to repay the loan?

As long as you live in the home as your primary residence, maintain the home, and pay property-related expenses on time, the loan does not have to be repaid. However, if you move or sell the property, the loan becomes due and must be paid off. In addition, when the last surviving borrower passes away, the loan becomes due and payable.


Can I leave my home to my heirs?

Yes. Your estate or designated heirs may retain the property and satisfy the reverse mortgage debt by paying the lesser of the mortgage balance or 95% of the then-current appraised value of the home.


What if the sale of my home is not enough to cover the debt?

As long as the property is sold for at least the lesser of the mortgage balance or 95% of the current appraised value, in most cases the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), which insures most reverse mortgages, will cover amounts owed that are not fully paid off by the sale proceeds. No debt is passed along to the estate or your heirs.


Can I add a borrower to the reverse mortgage?

No, reverse mortgages do not allow co-borrowers to be added after origination.

Signing a Contract
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