Reverse Mortgage Frequently Asked Questions
Quick answers to common reverse mortgage questions.
“A reverse mortgage sounds interesting, but I have so many questions I don’t know where to start.”
Actually, right here is a great place to start. We’ve taken some of the reverse mortgage frequently asked questions we hear most often and answered them for you below—including helpful links to more detailed information. Just click on a question below to reveal the answer.
Reverse Mortgage FAQ
Whether you’ve heard about a “HECM Mortgage,” “Home Equity Conversion Mortgage,” “HECM Reverse Mortgage,” “HECM Loan,” or “Reverse Mortgage,” it’s all the same thing: the FHA-insured loan program designed to let homeowners age 62 and older tap into their home equity and get cash to use as they wish. Unlike a traditional forward mortgage—where the borrower must begin repaying the loan right away—you don’t have to repay funds received through a reverse mortgage until after the final borrower no longer lives in the home, or if you fail to meet the terms of your loan, such as paying your property taxes and insurance and maintaining your home. There are no monthly mortgage payments required. For more answers to HECM FAQs, check out our Reverse Mortgage 101 page.
The short answer is, it depends. There are several variables that determine just how much of the home value you’ll be able to access. For instance, the borrowing limit (known as the “principal limit”) can depend on factors such as your age, home value as determined by an appraisal, the amount of outstanding loans against your house, and current interest rate. To get a better idea of how much cash you could receive, check out our Free Quote Calculator for a customized estimate.
Because a reverse mortgage does not require monthly mortgage payments, the loan repayment process doesn’t have to begin until you’re no longer living in the home, or if you do not meet the terms of the loan – which includes keeping current with property taxes, insurance, and home maintenance. You can read more on repaying the loan here.
Yes. If there’s an existing mortgage on your home, the proceeds from the reverse mortgage are first used to pay off that loan—and since no monthly mortgage payments are required, you can eliminate that monthly mortgage expense and keep more cash to use as you see fit. You’ll have to continue to keep current with property taxes, insurance, and maintenance.
With a reverse mortgage, your heirs can inherit the house, just as they would with any other mortgage. When the loan becomes due, they can decide how to repay the loan balance. Most often, the home is sold and proceeds are used to repay the lender. If there’s any money left over, it goes to your estate. And unlike a traditional mortgage, a reverse mortgage has non-recourse protection—which means that you or your heirs will never owe more than the home’s value when it is sold. You can read more on what adult children need to know here.
Reverse mortgage proceeds can be taken as a one-time, tax-free payment1, steady, tax-free monthly payments1, a line of credit2 as a “safety net” for future use, or any combination of these methods.
1. Consult a financial advisor and appropriate government agencies for any effect on taxes or government benefits.
2. Line of credit option is only available for adjustable rate HECM products.
Like traditional “forward” mortgages, your interest rate determines the amount of interest you’ll pay on your loan. And when it comes to reverse mortgage, there are two rate-type products: Fixed rate and adjustable-rate (ARMs). With a fixed-rate reverse mortgage, the interest rate remains the same for the life of the loan, but requires a single lump-sum disbursement at the time of closing. With an ARM product, payment can be received via single lump-sum disbursement, line of credit, term, or tenure options. The annual adjustable rate comes with a periodical change of up to 2% with a lifetime cap rate of 5% over the start rate. Generally, these interest rates are slightly lower than those of fixed-rate mortgages, but offer greater flexibility with multiple payment options. For up-to-the-minute rates, and to see what you can qualify for at any given time, check out our Free Quote Calculator.
No, reverse mortgage funds are considered non-taxable. What’s more, you can avoid making taxable withdrawals from 401(k) or other retirement plans by replacing the money with a tax-free reverse mortgage.* To learn more, watch our video on the tax implications of a reverse mortgage.
*Consult a financial advisor and appropriate government agencies for any effect on taxes or government benefits.
Yes. While reverse mortgages do not require monthly mortgage payments, you may choose to make periodic payments as often as you’d like. You must keep current with property taxes, insurance, and maintenance. But unlike some other types of loans, with a reverse mortgage there are no prepayment penalties.
Once you’ve decided that a reverse mortgage is right for you, all borrowers are required to meet with a FHA-approved counselor, either by phone or in person. This is an important step that certifies that you fully understand how a reverse mortgage works before you complete your reverse mortgage application. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to make sure that all your questions have been answered by a third party and that you’re clear on all the details: the process, the financial implications, your options, and more. You can read more on counseling here.
Just like a traditional “forward” mortgage, the process of getting a reverse mortgage involves a number of steps and will take some time—but Longbridge will be there with you at every step along the way. For details, read our blog post on what to expect.
The short answer is, you can use the proceeds from a reverse mortgage in any way you wish. Click here for ideas on how you can use a reverse mortgage to meet your financial goals in retirement.
The HECM program requires you to meet with a government-approved independent counselor for your protection—so you fully understand the benefits of the program, as well as your responsibilities, to make sure it’s the right option for you.
We’re committed to helping you make informed decisions. Can you think of any reverse mortgage questions to ask that we didn’t answer? Use this form to submit it and help us make the page even better.
Have a specific question? Wondering how a HECM reverse mortgage may fit your personal financial situation? Contact us today to speak with a Longbridge consultant.