Understanding Reverse Mortgages

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Understanding Reverse Mortgages

A reverse mortgage is a way to increase the money that you have during your retirement by accessing part of your home’s value in the form of actual money. You can borrow up to a certain percentage of the value of your home, and you won’t have to pay it back in the same way that you would a regular home loan. The only monthly installments involved will be the ones that the lender pays to you, unless you request to borrow a large amount at once. You can pay back a reverse loan whenever you want, as long as you don’t move away.

As soon as you leave, the lender can exercise their right to call in the loan, and they can also sell the home to get their money. But, as long as you plan to stay in your house for a while, a reverse mortgage can provide a much needed financial boost in times of trouble.

Who qualifies for a reverse mortgage? There are certain requirements in order to qualify for a reverse mortgage. An individual must own their home outright. If there is still a mortgage balance owed, it must be low enough that it can be paid off at closing. The homeowner is still required to pay property taxes and insurance, so they must have the finances to do so. The individual must be at least 62 years old or, if there are multiple owners, the youngest must be at least 62 years old.

When does a reverse mortgage become due? The reverse mortgage becomes due when the homeowner sells the house, moves out of the property, or becomes deceased. If there are multiple owners, the mortgage does not become due as long as at least one of them still remains in the home as a primary residence. Once the reverse mortgage is due, the balance of the loan must be paid back within six months.

What happens with the estate? In the event that the homeowner or owners are deceased, beneficiaries of the estate can choose to place the property for sale. If the estate sells for more than the amount of the reverse mortgage, the proceeds become the property of the beneficiaries. Should the house sell for less than the total amount of the reverse mortgage, the lender must take the loss. The debt cannot be passed along to the heirs of the estate.

The estate beneficiaries may, instead, choose to pay back the reverse mortgage in order to retain ownership of the property. In this event, they must pay back any balance remaining on the mortgage. This can be done either by using financial assets or by refinancing the mortgage.

What if I change my mind? If a senior citizen obtains a reverse mortgage and then reconsiders, they have the option of paying back the loan early. Prior to September of 2012, lenders could charge a penalty for repaying the loan prior to term. Since then, penalties for prepayments are illegal. However, lenders may charge other administrative fees for processing the early discharge of the loan.

Reverse mortgage counseling: Deciding if a reverse mortgage is right for you depends on many factors, and consumers need to understand all of the pros and cons. An impartial reverse mortgage counselor can fully explain exactly what the loan entails. This counseling is mandatory in order to protect consumers. Counseling may be done face-to-face or over the phone. After providing counseling, the counselor must sign an HECM Counseling Certificate and mail a copy to the homeowner. The copy is presented to the lender along with the reverse mortgage application.

Let’s be honest, any type of financing when it comes to your home can be confusing. It is always best to handle your affairs with the utmost care and to consider how each of your options, like a reverse mortgage, fits into your current lifestyle.

Featured Image By: Flickr

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