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Reverse Mortgages: How seniors can tap equity for extra cash

Posted on: 19th Jun, 2005 12:36 am
If you're a senior, looking to cash out your home equity without having to worry about monthly payments, a reverse mortgage is what you may need. If you'd like to know how a reverse mortgage can help you, and what it's all about, check out the reverse mortgage information below:



What is a reverse mortgage?

A Reverse mortgage (reverse equity mortgages) is a home loan that provides you with a steady flow of tax-free income either in installments or in lump sum. Since the loan provides an easy flow of cash, it is the preferred choice of many seniors in the country.

How does a reverse mortgage work?

It's just the reverse of a traditional mortgage which requires monthly payments. With a reverse mortgage, your debt accumulates as the bank doesn't collect the payments till the loan period ends or you or your heirs sell. Here are 5 things you should be aware of before you apply for a reverse equity mortgage:

  1. How to get the cash:
    You can get the reverse mortgage loan funds in different ways.
    • The lender or the company can provide you with a single payment.
    • You may ask for monthly cash advances.
    • You can apply for a line-of-credit that gives you the opportunity to withdraw a required amount of cash whenever you are in need.
    • The lender may allow for a combination of monthly cash advances as well as "credit-line account".
  2. Reverse mortgage limit:
    The maximum loan amount offered ranges from $200,160 to $362,790, depending on the county you live in. However under the 2008 New Housing Bill, the loan limit has been raised to $417,000. For high cost housing areas, the limit is further raised to $625,000. However, the loan amount that you will qualify for, depends upon the factors given below:
    • Age of the youngest borrower
    • The appraised value of your home
    • The equity built up in your home
    • What loan program you choose
    • How you want to get the loan funds
    Besides the above factors, the loan limit may also depend upon current interest rates and closing costs on home loans in your area.

  3. How to qualify for the loan:
    Unlike other loan options, there is no minimum income or credit requirement to qualify for a reverse mortgage. However, if you have unpaid debt on your home, it should be paid off before you apply for a reverse mortgage or else paid off as soon as you get the loan proceeds. Check out if you are eligible for reverse mortgages.

  4. Loan types you can apply for:
    You'll find a variety of loan products available in the market. They're the FHA-insured Home equity conversion mortgage (HECM), the Home Keeper Mortgage offered by Fannie Mae approved lenders, and others. You need to compare these programs and decide on the one that suits you. Check out more on Reverse Mortgages Comparison.

  5. Reverse mortgage interest rate:
    These loans are mostly adjustable rate mortgages that adjust on a monthly, semi-annual, or annual basis. The interest rates are usually based on the 1 year U.S. Treasury (T-Bill) or the LIBOR index. However, you'll also find fixed rate HECMs offered by certain lenders. However, rate changes do not affect the principal you get; rather it affects the amount you owe.

What are the advantages of a reverse mortgage?

Reverse mortgages assisted countless homeowners improve their quality of life upon retirement. These are very flexible financial planning products with limited restrictions attached to them. Key benefits of this offer are listed below-
  1. No restrictions on the use of money:
    Money that you receive through a reverse mortgage can be utilized for whatever purposes you want. You can use it for funding the education of a family member, for traveling purposes, for meeting the basic necessities of life or for anything else. You can also park the amount in another account as savings for the rainy days.
  2. Less risks of default:
    In a reverse mortgage, there is no chance of losing your home for non-payment. Whereas, in case of a home equity loan, you may lose your home because of non-payment. Again, reverse mortgage lenders don’t have any claim on your other assets and income.
  3. Federally guaranteed:
    There are a variety of loan products available in the market. The most widely used reverse mortgage is the federally guaranteed home equity conversion mortgages (HECM). HECMs are managed by the Department of Housing and Urban Affairs. Since these offers are federally backed, you will continue to receive payments even if the reverse mortgage lenders default.
  4. Tax benefits:
    Reverse mortgage is treated as a loan. The money that you receive through this route is tax-free. This is regardless of whether you receive the money in monthly basis or in lump sum amount.
  5. Retains home ownership:
    As long as you stay in the house, you retain ownership of the house. However, you are responsible for paying for the property taxes, insurance and maintenance.

Are there disadvantages or dangers of reverse mortgages?

There are 3 reverse mortgage pitfalls to watch out for:
  1. Rising debt and falling equity:
    A traditional mortgage requires you to make payments and build up equity. But reverse mortgages reduce your equity because you don't need to make monthly payments, and causes your mortgage debt ratio to increase. Your equity gets lower unless your home value appreciates. Thus, reverse mortgages are often known as "rising debt and falling equity" loans.

    Here's an example on "Rising debt and falling equity".

    Monthly Loan Amount: $2,000
    Yearly Loan Advance: $24,000
    Yearly Interest Rate:
    8%
    Original Home Value:
    $250,000
    Appreciation Rate of Home Value:
    5% per annum

    End of YearPrincipal Amount ($)Total Interest ($)Loan Amount ($)Total Home Value ($)Home Equity ($)
    (Total Home Value - Loan Amount)
    124,0001,05225,052262,500237,448
    248,0004,102 52,102275,625223,523
    372,0009,22481,224289,406208,182
    496,00016,495112,495303,876191,381
    5120,00025,990 145,990319,070173,080

    As the above calculation shows, even if your home value goes up, it may not be enough to raise your home equity. The rate of appreciation in the home value should be high enough so that even if your loan balance increases, your home equity won't go down easily.

    Now, when the appreciation isn't high enough, your equity will reduce, and as a result you may not have a home to leave for your heirs. This is because your heirs will only receive your home when the value of the home is more than what you owe.

  2. Rates and closing costs:
    The rates being adjustable can be higher at times thereby raising your interest and hence your debt because you aren't paying monthly. Some reverse mortgages have high closing costs, although under the new housing laws, the costs have been cut down and capped so that older homeowners can afford to get a reverse loan.

  3. Eligibility for Medicaid benefits: The loan proceeds may affect your eligibility to receive Medicaid benefits and Supplemental Social Security income (SSI). However, you can still qualify for Medicare and Social Security Income.
In spite of the reverse mortgage cons, these loans are preferable options when it comes to paying for your healthcare costs, remodeling your home, making a big purchase, or changing your lifestyle. Moreover, if you have debts to pay off, need money for someone's education, or wish to plan for a vacation, reverse mortgages are worth considering.

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What is a reverse mortgage?
Hi Guest,

It will be difficult for you to qualify for a reverse mortgage on a condo. Nevertheless, you should contact the local lenders and check out if they can help you with a reverse mortgage for a condo.
Posted on: 21st Feb, 2011 11:47 pm
Yes, condo's qualify as long as they're FHA-approved.
Posted on: 23rd Feb, 2011 09:06 am
If a person with a life estate, has a reverse mortgage and takes the entire amount and places it a bank account, does that then become his asset and start the 5 year look back all over again or is it still a protected asset?
Posted on: 21st Apr, 2011 05:02 pm
Jerry... the money can be considered as an asset. But could not get what you wanted to mean by 5 year look back period.
Posted on: 21st Apr, 2011 11:06 pm
>>does that then become his asset and start the 5 year look back all over again

Are you on Medicaid? If yes, a lump sum distribution like that can harm your benefits.
Posted on: 23rd Apr, 2011 12:27 pm
my hecm was only going to be for 10 yrs, and it was guess-estimated that, at the time, iwould have approx 30k$ available after selling my condo!! right down, going on 5 years later iam underwater with NO hopes of paying off this hecm loan in the next 5 years!! SO, when iam ready to leave, how do iproceed. when does the lender start paying the condo maintenance and property taxes etc??
quest #2... do ihave any options to sell the condo for LESS monies than is owed on the hecm loan... keep in mind, the orig appraisal was 300K$ and the projected appraisal will be about 200k$... thank you
Posted on: 20th Jul, 2011 08:59 am
Hi bbp,

You can list the property in the market and sell it off. You can sell off the property at a lower price. However, once the property is sold off you will be liable for paying off the loan in full.

Thanks
Posted on: 20th Jul, 2011 11:11 pm
>>when does the lender start paying the condo maintenance and property taxes etc??

Never. When you're underwater, you're not responsible for the negative debt, but you're always responsible for taxes, insurance and maintenance.
Posted on: 22nd Jul, 2011 05:26 pm
We have a reverse mortgage, need to sell, and wondered what happens to that set aside money for loan serviceing that they put away from our equity?
Posted on: 31st Aug, 2011 07:01 pm
Hi Star!

Welcome to forums!

When you sell off the property, you will be liable for paying off the reverse mortgage in full. The lender won't come after the set aside money if you pay off the reverse mortgage in full.

Sussane
Posted on: 31st Aug, 2011 09:37 pm
>>what happens to that set aside money for loan serviceing that they put away from our equity?

The equity that was set aside for the Service Fee will disappear. The Lender will convert the portion of equity they're entitled to for the Monthly Service fee, and you'll have full access to the remaining equity that was set aside for that purpose.

>>The lender won't come after the set aside money if you pay off the reverse mortgage in full.

It doesn't work like that with a Reverse Mortgage, Sussane.
Posted on: 01st Sep, 2011 06:38 am
Thanks for your responses so far, I have another question now?
If the rest of the set aside goes back into the equity after they take what fees are due for services of fees. Then does that equity money subtract from what is owed on the house by three or four thousand, or do we have to ask more money for the house to get that money that way?
Posted on: 01st Sep, 2011 08:53 am
Thanks for your responses so far, I have another question now?
If the rest of the set aside goes back into the equity after they take what fees are due for services of fees. Then does that equity money subtract from what is owed on the house by three or four thousand, or do we have to ask more money for the house to get that money that way?
Posted on: 01st Sep, 2011 08:53 am
>>If the rest of the set aside goes back into the equity after they take what fees are due for services of fees.

That depends on how much the monthly service fee was (it would be between 25-35 per month) and how long they've had the Reverse Mortgage. If it's not listed on the monthly statement, it's listed on the Amortization Schedule you received when the final loan documents were signed.

If the youngest person on Title is in their 60's or 70's, the Lender usually sets aside approximately 14 years worth of equity for the Service Fee. For example, (and this is an estimate) if the fee is $35.00, $5,880.00 would have been set aside. If the Reverse Mortgage ended after 24 months, only $840.00 would applied towards the Service Fee. The remaining set aside would convert back into equity that belongs to the homeowners.

>>Then does that equity money subtract from what is owed on the house by three or four thousand

No

>>or do we have to ask more money for the house to get that money that way?

You don't have to do anything. It happens automatically.
Posted on: 01st Sep, 2011 09:18 am
Does a double wide mobile home qualify for a reverse mortgage
Posted on: 06th Nov, 2011 11:54 am
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