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Discover the keys to unlocking your home's hidden potential and securing a brighter financial future. From understanding eligibility requirements to exploring repayment options, our articles will help you navigate the landscape of homeownership and reverse mortgages.
Reverse mortgage basicsIs a Reverse Mortgage Worth It? 4 Things to ConsiderHave you ever considered the idea of getting a reverse mortgage? Have you heard mixed opinions from others on whether or not they are beneficial to the consumer? Below, we take a closer look at reverse mortgages, their pros and cons, and the factors you should consider when deciding if they're worth pursuing. This includes: Eligibility and requirementsYour long-term goalsImpact on your home's equity Interest rates and feesAlternative options Meet the expert Michael G. Branson, CEO of All Reverse Mortgage, Inc. and moderator of ARLO™, has 45 years of experience in the mortgage banking industry. He has devoted the past 19 years to reverse mortgages exclusively. What is a reverse mortgage? A reverse mortgage is a loan that works in “reverse” of a traditional or “forward” mortgage. Instead of making a monthly payment every month over a specified period, a reverse mortgage allows you to borrow against your home without the burden of a mandatory monthly mortgage payment. Interest on the loan is added to the balance, so the balance does increase over time. ProsNo monthly mortgage payment is requiredReverse Mortgage proceeds can be used for virtually anythingGuaranteed line of credit on the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) programNon-Recourse loan - you can never owe more than the value of the propertyNo impact on Social Security or Medicare BenefitsConsReverse Mortgages can have higher closing costs than traditional loansCan impact needs-based programsIncreasing loan balance can impact the equity position of the home » Reverse mortgages aren't for everyone: Explore the pros and cons further 1. Eligibility and requirements To be eligible for a reverse mortgage, you must be at least 62 years of age for the HECM program (some private programs go as low as 55 in certain states), the property must be your primary residence, you must be able to meet the financial assessment requirements and credit criteria as well as have a property that meets the program guidelines. When you have a reverse mortgage loan, as the property owner, you are responsible for the timely payment of real estate taxes and homeowners insurance premiums. Failure to do so can result in the loan being called due and payable. The property must remain the primary residence of at least 1 of the borrowers throughout the loan. If you plan to relocate from your current residence, a reverse mortgage is the best fit once you are in the property you wish to remain in. 2. Your long-term goals Assessing long-term goals is paramount when considering whether a reverse mortgage will be your right decision. By envisioning the future, you can determine if the reverse mortgage will align with those goals and lay the foundation for a financially secure and fulfilling retirement. Whether it’s ensuring a comfortable standard of living, funding healthcare expenses, or any other important factors, a clear understanding of these goals empowers you to make informed decisions and helps guard against potential pitfalls. It's critical to educate yourself on the terms of a reverse mortgage. In fact, it's mandatory to receive HUD counseling before committing to a reverse mortgage to ensure you fully understand what a reverse mortgage is and your obligations as a borrower. » Want some expert advice? Consult with a reverse mortgage lender 3. Interest rates and fees The fees on a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) can be higher than a standard or “forward” mortgage. This is due to the Mortgage Insurance Premium that HUD charges for insuring the loan. The upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium is 2% of the lesser of the property value or Maximum Lending limit, which is currently $1,149,825 as of 2024. However, there is value to the consumer in this loan being insured by the government even though it comes with a higher fee. By having your reverse mortgage insured by the government, you are guaranteed access to your line of credit for as long as the loan is in good standing. If property values decrease or your lender goes out of business, your line of credit is unaffected. It cannot be frozen or reduced arbitrarily as a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) can. 4. Alternative Options The last thing you should consider before determining whether or not a reverse mortgage will be worth it for you is what are the realistic alternatives. It is important to compare the reverse mortgage with other alternatives and weigh the pros and cons of each option. One example would be downsizing, selling your home, and moving to another more affordable home. In some cases, this is feasible and may present a great option if your current home is too large or a 2-story, etc. Downsizing may not be a significant benefit given high real estate prices in many markets, making downsizing difficult. However, utilizing the reverse mortgage for purchase program combined with a downsize could present the perfect solution if a downsize is necessary but will need more financial relief. Unsure about the cost of a reverse mortgage? Try our Reverse Mortgage Calculator by ARLO™ to get a quote. Here, you can quickly compare different reverse mortgage programs to choose the best option. Is a reverse mortgage worth it? A reverse mortgage is a program that benefits many, but there are better options for some. Ultimately, the answer to this question will come down to your specific situation and goals. You must weigh the pros and cons of all the options available and seek guidance from trusted advisors when necessary. Education on the program is critical to making an informed decision, and that is why we have as much information on our website as possible to help our potential customers educate themselves. » Want more information? Consult our complete guide to understanding reverse mortgages
Reverse mortgage basics4 Most Common Reverse Mortgage Complaints in 2023Reverse mortgages, despite their potential benefits, often face criticism. Since 2019, less than 1% of eligible homeowners have taken the reverse mortgage option. That's why we delve into the most common complaints surrounding reverse mortgages below. By addressing these issues, we hope to provide a clearer understanding of this financial option and dispel common misconceptions. This includes: Reverse mortgages come with high feesReverse mortgages "eat up" your home equityMy heirs have to pay off the excessive loan balanceReverse mortgages can lead to foreclosure due to growing loan balances Meet the expert Michael G. Branson, CEO of All Reverse Mortgage, Inc. and moderator of ARLO™, has 45 years of experience in the mortgage banking industry. He has devoted the past 19 years to reverse mortgages exclusively. 1. Excessive fees Myth: Reverse mortgages come with high fees Fact: While it's true that reverse mortgages used to have excessive fees, recent regulatory changes have made them more affordable. Today, fees for originating a reverse mortgage align with those of a regular mortgage. Similarly, the interest rates on reverse mortgages are higher than those on traditional 30-year fixed-rate mortgages. But remember: The longer repayment period justifies the higher interest rate, as the lender waits longer for their payback.The increased interest rate isn't excessive and should be considered regarding the loan's benefits. Still wary about reverse mortgage costs? Use our Reverse Mortgage Calculator to get a quote. You can see:Real-time interest ratesAccurate cost estimates based on your locationSide-by-side amortization schedules 2. Equity erosion Myth: Reverse mortgages "eat up" your home equity Fact: A reverse mortgage does reduce your home equity over time, but the benefits can outweigh this concern, including improved financial security and quality of life. It's essential to remember that the loan is structured so your heirs won't have to pay any amount over the property's sales price. 3. Burden on heirs Myth: My heirs have to pay off the excessive loan balance Fact: Again, the reverse mortgage is designed to protect your heirs. They don't have to cover any loan amount exceeding the property's value. 4. Foreclosure concerns Myth: Reverse mortgages can lead to foreclosure due to growing loan balances Fact: The loan balance itself doesn't trigger foreclosure. Foreclosure in a reverse mortgage happens only if the homeowner fails to pay real estate taxes or homeowners' insurance. This can be because of: Poor financial planning or some other reason preventing them from making payments.The homeowner vacates the property as a result of death or by simply moving to another location. The mortgage will then become payable, and the property could be foreclosed upon if every effort to sell the property is not being made. » Here's how you can default on a reverse mortgage How do you mitigate common complaints about reverse mortgages? One of my statements that I use often, and I hear it repeated by others and am very happy when I do, is, “I would rather you not get a reverse mortgage for the right reasons than get one for the wrong reasons.” Significant contributors to negative reverse mortgage sentiments are a lack of awareness and misunderstanding about how they work and the costs involved. In the past, there was limited education available on this topic. Today, mandatory upfront counseling sessions for borrowers and sometimes even heirs help eliminate false ideas and ensure that individuals fully understand the program. If not, you could overlook these potential reverse mortgage advantages: No mortgage paymentLong-term care coverageAsset protectionStop foreclosureRemain in one's homeDebt elimination Doing the right thing in our business, reverse mortgages means doing what is suitable for senior homeowners. This means we do not “sell” a loan to our customers. We educate them about the loan program, the various options available, and the good and bad based on the information they are requesting. - Michael G. Branson, CEO All Reverse Mortgage, Inc. » Delve into these reverse mortgage pros and cons to get the full picture Reversing misconceptions: A new perspective on reverse mortgages Common complaints about reverse mortgages often stem from misconceptions and a lack of understanding. By addressing these concerns and providing accurate information, you can decide whether a reverse mortgage aligns with your financial goals and needs. It's essential to seek education, consult with knowledgeable lenders, and weigh the potential benefits against the perceived drawbacks when considering this financial option. » Still feel like you're in the dark? Consult our complete guide to understanding reverse mortgages
Reverse mortgage basicsWho Gets the Most Out of Reverse Mortgage?Reverse mortgages offer a unique financial solution for individuals, especially seniors, looking to tap into the equity of their primary residence. Unlike traditional or "forward" mortgages, reverse mortgages don't require monthly mortgage payments. The ability to borrow money without the burden of a monthly payment obligation separates the reverse mortgage from any other type of financing option. Below, we delve into who benefits the most from reverse mortgages, plus their unique benefits and suitability as a financial product. Meet the expert Michael G. Branson, CEO of All Reverse Mortgage, Inc. and moderator of ARLO™, has 45 years of experience in the mortgage banking industry. He has devoted the past 19 years to reverse mortgages exclusively. Who benefits the most from reverse mortgages? Seniors who stand to gain the most from a reverse mortgage typically fall into the following categories: People seeking extra monthly income For a retiree living on a fixed income, a reverse mortgage can provide a much-needed source of additional monthly funds to supplement their fixed income, whether a Pension or Social Security. The reverse mortgage has a payment plan option that is called a "tenure" payment plan. The tenure payment plan is for life as long as the loan is in good standing. To keep the loan in good standing, a borrower must live in the property as their primary residence and maintain the taxes and insurance on the home. This payment plan provides the borrower with a guaranteed monthly payment that they can count on to increase their monthly cash flow above their fixed income. People needing to fund home improvement projects A reverse mortgage line of credit can be used at the borrower's discretion to fund several home improvement projects. Whether renovations are to modernize the home and increase its value or make it more functional for the homeowner to age. People who need help covering medical costs Seniors with medical costs not covered by insurance often look to the reverse mortgage to fund those expenses. One such example would be the significant expense of in-home care. Seniors who do not wish to leave their home but require regular assistance can utilize a reverse mortgage to access the additional funds necessary to cover these expenses. People looking to reduce their housing costs Many seniors still have a traditional mortgage on their home with a mandatory monthly mortgage payment that is too difficult to afford as they approach retirement. A reverse mortgage is an excellent option for these homeowners when they can get enough funds from the reverse to pay off their existing mortgage. By doing this, they can continue living in their home, with the mortgage payment they previously paid being eliminated, making their current home more affordable. People looking to have more cash available As everyone knows, unexpected expenses always arise. Whether medical, home repairs, auto repairs, etc. Access to a line of credit via a reverse mortgage provides significant peace of mind to a senior homeowner, knowing that they have funds available to cover these unexpected expenses without adding additional obligations to their monthly budget or, worse, being unable to afford them. » Wondering what happens to your reverse mortgage after death? Get all the answers. Benefits and suitability of reverse mortgages Several benefits come with a reverse mortgage; one of the most significant benefits is the absence of a mandatory monthly payment. Traditional or "forward" mortgages have a mandatory monthly payment for a specified time. With a reverse mortgage, the interest on the loan accrues on the balance and is not repaid until the loan reaches maturity. A reverse mortgage only reaches maturity when the last surviving borrower or eligible Non-Borrowing Spouse passes away, vacates the property permanently, or if the home is sold. The reverse mortgage is most suitable for homeowners looking to remain in their home but see a need or benefit of having additional funds available. They do not want to have the burden of monthly mortgage payments in their monthly budget. To determine if you're a suitable candidate for a reverse mortgage, consider the following criteria: Your age: For the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) insured by the government, you must be at least 62 years of age, and for non-government-insured reverse mortgages, depending on the state you live in, you can sometimes be as young as 55.Your current equity position in your home: A reverse mortgage requires no monthly mortgage payments, and therefore, the loan-to-value you can borrow is lower than a traditional mortgage, where you must make mandatory monthly payments.Your retirement plans: A reverse mortgage is designed to be the last loan you will ever need on your home. However, if your retirement plan involves a relocation, there may be better options than obtaining a reverse mortgage on your current home due to the fees involved with obtaining the loan. Additionally, various resources (such as training videos, printed materials, and even a reverse mortgage calculator) help homeowners understand the intricacies of reverse mortgages and determine if this financial tool fits their needs. » Looking for a lender? These top lenders currently offer reverse mortgages. Fixed income and retirement planning Retirees often accumulate substantial home equity over the years, but it's practically untouchable without a reverse mortgage. Moreover, traditional home loans require monthly repayments, which can strain a retiree's budget. With a reverse mortgage, a retiree can access their home's equity without needing immediate repayment, providing a crucial source of financial flexibility. Here's how a reverse mortgage can contribute to a more secure retirement plan: Payment-free access: Ultimate peace of mind knowing you have access to a guaranteed line of credit that you can borrow from without having to make monthly payments once you access those funds.Debt reduction: Proceeds from the loan can be used to pay off debts, freeing up existing income and improving overall financial stability.Funding various needs: Reverse mortgage funds can finance home improvements, healthcare expenses, vehicle purchases, travel, and other essential expenses, enhancing your quality of life. Reverse mortgages and homeowners with significant equity The equity position a homeowner has in their home is vital to how the reverse mortgage will benefit them. The more equity you have in your home, the more funds you can access from a reverse mortgage. Those who own their home outright will access the most possible proceeds from a reverse mortgage loan because there will be no existing mortgage to pay off. » Is it possible to get out of a reverse mortgage? Yes, and here's how. Age and long-term planning Age is a significant factor in determining who can benefit the most from a reverse mortgage. The older the borrower, the higher the percentage of loan to value they can borrow. This is due to life expectancy. The younger you are, the longer your life expectancy will be, resulting in more interest accrual over the life of the loan. Whether you are a younger borrower or an older borrower, your long-term plans will be important to consider how you use a reverse mortgage and whether it is the right solution for you: The time frame of your retirement: At what age are you planning to retire, or are you already retired? Are you taking Social Security at 62 or age 70? How much money per month do you need realistically, and do you have the funds to accomplish that without getting a reverse mortgage? If you plan to retire closer to 62 but wish to delay Social Security until age 70, you are going to put a strain on your existing assets once you retire.Preserving existing assets: Retirees may have liquid assets that generate income. Depleting those assets will reduce the income generated from those assets. Obtaining a reverse mortgage allows them to use their home equity for additional funds to cover expenses without depleting these valuable assets.Long-term healthcare: If one spouse requires long-term healthcare, a reverse mortgage can cover those expenses while safeguarding existing assets for the surviving spouse. Debt management and financial flexibility While the proceeds from a reverse mortgage can be used for various purposes, paying off debts can be particularly beneficial in specific scenarios. Here's how a reverse mortgage can help you manage your debt: Debt elimination: Reverse mortgage proceeds can be used to pay off your consumer debts. You can eliminate credit card balances with extremely high interest rates, auto loans, and other installment debts.Foreclosure prevention: For seniors on a fixed income, traditional mortgage payments, real estate taxes, and insurance can be challenging to keep up with. A reverse mortgage can replace the existing mortgage, eliminating monthly payments and reducing the risk of foreclosure.Improved quality of life: Using reverse mortgage proceeds to pay off other debt drastically improves your monthly cash flow because the reverse mortgage requires no monthly payment. Embrace financial freedom with reverse mortgages Reverse mortgages are a gateway to financial freedom and security. These versatile tools can help you unlock the potential of your home equity while offering peace of mind and financial flexibility. So, whether you want to enhance your retirement, manage debts, or enjoy the fruits of your hard-earned home equity, a reverse mortgage may be the key to achieving your financial goals. » Get current reverse mortgage rates in real-time here.
Reverse mortgage basics6 Disadvantages of Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)As of the second quarter of 2023, household debt in the US rose to $17.06 trillion, with Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) debt accounting for $340 billion. One of the most frequent reasons a homeowner secures a HELOC is that they seek to borrow money against their home without having to refinance their existing mortgage loan while remaining flexible and not having to advance all the funds immediately. Typically, a HELOC has a variable interest rate and interest-only monthly payments during the draw period, while a home equity loan usually has a fixed rate and is subject to principal and interest payments over a specified period of time. While some of this may sound attractive to those needing an extra line of credit, a HELOC is not without its challenges. Meet the expert Michael G. Branson, CEO of All Reverse Mortgage, Inc. and moderator of ARLO™, has 45 years of experience in the mortgage banking industry. He has devoted the past 19 years to reverse mortgages exclusively. 1. Variable interest rates are difficult to manage on traditional loans and HELOCs Any time you have a mandatory mortgage payment due every month, an increase in your interest rate will lead to you having to make a larger monthly mortgage payment. Significant rate increases could lead to a new minimum payment that could create financial hardship and possibly result in foreclosure. » Learn how rising interest rates impact your reverse mortgage benefits 2. Payments at the end of the draw period are steep The minimum monthly payment on a HELOC during the "draw period" is interest only. The draw period is the predetermined time that the line of credit is open-ended and funds are available to be advanced by the borrower. Once the draw period ends, the HELOC loan will switch from interest only to either a principal and interest payment where the borrower will begin paying the loan back over a predetermined period, or the loan will result in a balloon payment. If your loan has a balloon payment, the entire balance becomes due when the draw period ends. Either option can lead to hardship if the borrower has not taken the necessary steps to pay off the loan by the conclusion of the draw period. Failure to make the new principal and interest payments or the balloon payment will result in foreclosure. 3. Your loan must be paid off before additional refinancing You must always read the fine print when considering taking out a HELOC. Many HELOCs come with an annual fee to have the loan in place, and some even have penalties for closing the loan before a specified period of time. » Want to refinance your HELOC? See the benefits of refinancing it into a HECM 4. Reduced net worth and increased expenses Any time you increase the amount you owe against your home, you are reducing your total net worth, as home equity is a factor in calculating an individual's net worth. This is something to consider if your business qualifications rely on net worth. Additionally, the mandatory monthly payment on the HELOC becomes a part of your monthly budget and will only increase as the outstanding balance on the line increases. Additionally, if the HELOC is not subject to a balloon payment and resets to a principal and interest payment, the mandatory monthly payment will increase substantially, which could cause the monthly expenses to become unmanageable and possibly lead to foreclosure. 5. Greater flexibility leads to increased risk Although a HELOC gives the homeowner lots of flexibility to spend the money as they wish, they must be conscious of spending the available funds. A lender or bank may approve a borrower for a HELOC in an amount that is more than is ultimately needed. A HELOC can be a great tool if used prudently, and funds are spent on necessary items or home improvement rather than leisure and entertainment. 6. Your line of credit is not guaranteed The lender or bank can freeze your access to the line of credit or eliminate the available funds at their sole discretion. If the housing market is in a bad cycle and property values are down, the lender or bank can temporarily or permanently cut off access to your line of credit, creating a significant hardship if you are counting on access to those funds. Consider alternative financing options Before securing a HELOC, exploring a full cash-out refinance of one's regular first mortgage is advised. A new first mortgage can be obtained with a fixed interest rate, whereas a HELOC cannot. With a cash-out refinance of your existing first mortgage, you can safely calculate and know your new monthly payment, eliminating the surprises associated with a HELOC. Additionally, for those age 62 or older, a regular reverse mortgage may be the best long-term solution. While the loan would be more expensive to establish, the line of credit would be guaranteed, and the unused funds would grow in availability. » Learn more: See our HELOC vs reverse mortgage comparison
Reverse mortgage basicsWhat Is a HECM for Purchase? Explained With ExamplesIn the world of real estate, you may (or may not) have come across the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) for purchase. This unique loan product is tailor-made for those aged 62 and older and offers a certain amount of financial flexibility. Below, we delve into HECM's mechanics, eligibility, and estate implications, revealing its pros and cons. Expert insights will empower you to leverage HECM for Purchase, opening doors to a more comfortable retirement. Meet the expert Michael G. Branson, CEO of All Reverse Mortgage, Inc. and moderator of ARLO™, has 45 years of experience in the mortgage banking industry. He has devoted the past 19 years to reverse mortgages exclusively. What is a HECM for purchase? A Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) is a specialized type of reverse mortgage program designed to help senior homeowners aged 62 and older purchase a primary residence. Because a HECM doesn't require a monthly payment, you can bring a down payment to the closing table and use the fully funded HECM to pay the seller. Then, you have no ongoing monthly payments (you are still responsible for your taxes, insurance, and any other property charges such as HOA dues, etc.). This helps you maintain a more flexible monthly income and yet live in a very nice home for your retirement years. HECM conditions include: The minimum age requirement is 62 years old. In the case of a married couple, only one of the borrowers must be at least 62 years old.The HECM must be used on a property that's the primary residence.While not too stringent, the property must meet HUD minimum requirementsOver time, at least one of the borrowers must remain in the property as their primary residence to keep the HECM in place. Pros and Cons of HECMs ProsQualifying may be easier than for a conventional mortgageMonthly out-of-pocket payments for loan repayment are not requiredBorrowers can relocate with no monthly payments while not having to pay the entire purchase price in cashConsEquity in your primary residence may diminish over time.Since you use a full draw to purchase, no further draws may be taken on the loan laterFees and interest rates may be higher than with a conventional loan. Difference between HECM for Purchase vs. other reverse mortgage typesHECM must be fully funded for the purchase. Your down payment and the fully funded HECM will pay the seller the entire sales price. Otherwise, payment requirements and structure for any HECM are the same. Examples of HECMs for purchase You want to preserve your assets but still operate like you paid cash for the property.You want to upgrade to a property that would be unattainable based on the equity in your current property, and you cannot go into debt at this stage of your life to support the new, nicer residence.Your current home no longer meets your needs either because of its physical location or characteristics/limitations, but you cannot pay cash for a new home, and your budget will not support new house payments. Basic Mechanics of HECM for purchase The basics of any HECM are the same: Monthly payments are not required from the borrower. Interest payments will be added to the loan balance and paid in full when the property is sold. An important feature of using a HECM for purchase is that you must bring a down payment larger (40-50%) than required for a conventional 30-year mortgage loan. As with any HECM, a strong equity position is necessary to satisfy the loan requirements, hence the large down payment. The amount of the down payment depends on the borrower’s age(s) and current interest rates. Calculating loan proceeds in a HECM for purchase arrangement Your down payment plus the fully-funded HECM must equal at least the purchase price for the seller. This includes factoring in the closing costs. The seller can contribute toward closing costs as negotiated in the sales contract. Alternatively, you can pay closing costs out of pocket or add it to the loan balance at closing. Regardless of the payment method, the seller must receive their full sales price at the close of escrow. Top tip: Use a reverse mortgage purchase calculator to determine your required down payment and view current interest rates and amortization schedules. HECM loan repayment and implications Because you don't have to make monthly payments during the term of a HECM loan, interest is added to the loan's principal balance every month instead. Therefore, the loan balance grows over time. The entire loan balance is then due when you vacate the property. This can be because: You pass away.You move out of the property and no longer use it as your primary residence.You sell the property. In the event of death, your heirs must sell the property and pay the entire outstanding balance in full; they can refinance the property and pay the mortgage off in full, or they can choose to walk away and owe nothing. If the total mortgage balance exceeds the fair market value sale of the property, there's no obligation to pay the difference. If your heirs wish to keep the home and the value is lower than the current appraised value, the lender will accept 95% of the current appraised value as payment in full, regardless of the higher loan amount. Estate planning and inheritances with HECM for purchase The major implication for your estate planning or heirs is that the equity in your primary residence will diminish over time. Because the interest due is added on top of the loan amount, the loan will grow and lessen the equity available. It's important to understand that because there may be less equity in your home upon its sale, there could be less cash for a down payment on a new home, and your heirs may inherit less. Unlocking financial opportunities through HECM for purchase The HECM loan is an excellent tool for many reasons, including maintaining existing assets, reducing monthly outgo, paying for long-term health care, buying a second home, paying off debt, or even traveling. As long as you understand how a HECM works and that the equity in your current primary residence will be diminished over time, it's an effective method to tap into the equity that has been growing over the years and doing so with no additional monthly outgo. » Need more info? Reach out to a qualified reverse mortgage lender or try financial counseling