Reverse Mortgages 101: What You Need to Know

Information about reverse mortgages from Wade Insurance AgencyReverse mortgages are advertised a lot these days. You might find them featured in TV commercials, touted in radio ads and mentioned online. Usually, these ads depict happy older couples vacationing on cruises or traveling the world with their reverse mortgage funds.

However, this is not the intended use of this type of loan. They are designed to be used as a lifeline by retired people who have a built up a lot of equity in their homes and need to supplement their incomes.

Reverse mortgages may be risky, but there are cases where the benefits do outweigh the risks. For some home owners, a reverse mortgage may provide a means for early retirement, a way to afford necessary home improvements or just as a way to liquidate some of the money they have invested in their homes. For others, however, these deals can turn out to be a financial nightmare and can leave their families in the lurch.

Learn more about how reverse mortgages work as well as their pros and cons, so that you can decide if this sort of financial arrangement is good for you.

How Reverse Mortgages Work

Reverse mortgages were created as a way to assist seniors facing economic hardship. They are designed for those who have built up a significant amount of equity on their homes but need a way to liquidate that equity in the form of supplemental income.

A reverse mortgage is a loan on which recipients do not need to make monthly payments. Rather, the borrowers receive funds from the lender each month and the loan balance increases accordingly. The loan does not need to be repaid until the borrower (or borrowers) move, sell their house, or pass away.

If you apply for a reverse mortgage, the amount that you will be able to borrow is dependent on your age and how much equity you have built up on your home. The current borrowing limit on federally-backed reverse mortgages is $625,500 or the appraised value of your home, whichever is less. Proprietary lenders can offer funds that exceed that amount.

Different Types of Reverse Mortgages

If you are giving serious consideration to applying for a reverse mortgage, you should be aware that there are three different types available to consumers. These are:

  • Single-purpose:  Single-purpose reverse mortgages are designed to be used for one specific purpose, such as paying back taxes or making necessary home improvements. They are typically available only to low-to-moderate-income individuals. This type of loan usually comes with the lowest interest rates and associated fees.
  • Federally-insured home equity conversion mortgages: Also referred to as HECMs, these are the most common type of reverse mortgage. In fact, the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders association reports that HECMs account for approximately 90 percent of all reverse mortgages. They are backed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
  • Development. You are not required to meet any particular income requirements and you can use the funds for any purpose. However, you must be at least 62 years old, reside in the home you are reverse mortgaging and meet with an independent government-approved housing counselor before you can apply.
  • Proprietary: Proprietary reverse mortgages are private loans that are backed solely by the companies that provide them. These loans are sometimes referred to as “jumbo reverse mortgages” because they are designed to meet the needs of those with homes valued at around $750,000 or more. While proprietary reverse mortgages are not subject to the same regulations as federally-backed loans, most lenders offer similar protections to consumers.

Reverse Mortgages and Home Expenses

Although your bank will be paying you a mortgage, you are still the home owner. As such, you are still responsible for paying property taxes and  keeping your home properly covered by homeowners insurance.

Those who apply for a reverse mortgage should be aware that if they should fail to pay their property taxes, let their homeowners insurance lapse, or fail to properly maintain their home, they can find themselves in default and the lender can foreclose.

If your financial circumstances may put you in a position where you will not be able to afford to keep up with these expenses, selling your home and downgrading your living arrangements might be better than taking out a reverse mortgage.

Make Sure Your Home Is Covered No Matter What You Decide

Whether or not you decide to go with a reverse mortgage, remember the importance of keeping your home insurance up-to-date with all the necessary coverage you need. Extra insurance may be necessary, such as if you live in a flood zone or a seismically active area.

If your house is damaged and you do not have the proper insurance to repair it, you may find yourself living in a financial nightmare.

Be sure to speak with one of our local Trusted Choice® insurance agents to learn more about your many home coverage options.

Pros and Cons of Reverse Mortgages >

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