A reverse mortgage is a loan for senior homeowners that uses a portion of the home’s equity as collateral. The loan generally does not have to be repaid until the last surviving homeowner permanently moves out of the property or passes away. At that time, the estate has approximately 6 months to repay the balance of the reverse mortgage or sell the home to pay off the balance.
All remaining equity is inherited by the estate. The estate is not personally liable if the home sells for less than the balance of the reverse mortgage. When you ask the question, what is a reverse mortgage, the following is the type of answer you should expect.
Eligibility For a Reverse Mortgage
To be eligible for a HECM reverse mortgage, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) requires that all homeowners be at least age 62. The home must be owned free and clear or all existing liens but be able to be satisfied with the reverse mortgage. If there is a mortgage balance, it can be paid off completely with the proceeds of the reverse mortgage loan at the closing. Generally, there are no income or credit score requirements for a reverse mortgage.
Outliving the Reverse Mortgage
A reverse mortgage can not be outlived. As long as one homeowner lives in the home as their primary residence and maintains the home in accordance with FHA requirements (keeping taxes and insurance current) the loan will not become due.
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 or put the home up for sale.
If the equity in the home is higher than the balance of 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.
The amount that is available generally depends on four factors: age (older is better), current interest rate, appraised value of the home and government imposed lending limits. Use the calculator to estimate how much could be drawn.
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