Reverse Mortgage: Common Misconceptions

Calculate Your Eligibility

Reverse mortgages are a complex product, and with that complexity, there are some common misconceptions about how they work. Reverse mortgages were created specifically for seniors to provide them with an option to help improve their financial situation in retirement. To help better understand reverse mortgages, here are facts about the most common misconceptions about the product.

Myth: Reverse mortgages are a scam

Safeguards have been put into place to ensure that senior homeowners know what to expect and can make an educated decision about a reverse mortgage loan.

  • All applicants must take a financial assessment. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires a financial assessment that evaluates the borrowers’ willingness and capacity to meet their financial obligations and mortgage requirements.1
  • Borrowers are also required to complete counseling by an independent Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) counselor as part of the application process.2
  • In some cases, and as required by Federal Housing Administration (FHA), a portion of the loan proceeds may be placed into a Life Expectancy Set Aside (LESA), to assist and ensure the borrower can pay required property taxes and homeowners.

Myth: You don’t own your home

A reverse mortgage allows senior homeowners to live in their homes for as long as they wish and keep the title of their home.

  • Your lender or the government does not own your home.
  • You will not be evicted or foreclosed on as long as you meet the obligations of the loan.
  • Your home is your primary residence, and you continue to pay required property taxes, homeowners insurance, and maintain the home according to FHA.3

Failure to meet these requirements can trigger a loan default that may result in foreclosure.

Myth: Your spouse will need to move out of the home when you pass away

There are protections for the eligible non-borrowing spouse if they did not qualify because of their age and are not on the loan. Upon the passing of the last remaining borrower, an eligible non-borrowing spouse may have repayment of the reverse mortgage deferred if certain requirements are met.4

Myth: Your children won’t inherit the home

You can leave your home to your children, or to anyone that you choose. When the loan becomes due, you or your heirs have the option of paying off the balance of the loan and keeping the home.

Myth: The bank will sell your home when the loan comes due

You can stay in the home as long you continue to meet the obligations of the loan. Should you decide to sell the home or move out, the loan becomes due and payable because your home is no longer your primary residence.

Myth: You will lose your Social Security and Medicare

Usually, government entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare are not affected by a reverse mortgage. However, it is best to consult with a qualified financial advisor or government agent to learn how a reverse mortgage could impact the eligibility of some government benefits.

Myth: You can’t have a current mortgage on the home to qualify for a reverse mortgage

Many borrowers actually get a reverse mortgage to eliminate their monthly mortgage payments.5 You can have a current mortgage or other debt on your home’s title as long as you have enough equity in the property to qualify for a reverse mortgage. The mortgage or debt must be paid off with the proceeds of the reverse mortgage, which eliminates the mortgage payment.

Myth: I can be evicted if I outlive my life expectancy

You cannot be evicted or foreclosed on if you outlive your expectancy, as long as you continue to meet the loan obligations.

A reverse mortgage may be to help seniors supplement their retirement plans. Call 1-800-976-6211 to speak with a licensed loan advisor and they can help determine if a reverse mortgage is right for you.

Important Disclosures

1  Mandatory obligations are those fees and charges, as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), incurred with the origination of the HECM loan that are paid at closing or during the first 12-month disbursement period.  This includes but is not limited to: existing liens on the property; the loan origination fee; counseling fee; upfront MIP; third-party closing costs; customary fees and charges for warranties, inspections, surveys, engineer certifications; repair set-asides; set-aside for property taxes and insurance; and delinquent federal debt.

2 The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides a list of approved reverse mortgage counseling agencies for you to choose from. The purpose of this requirement is so you are aware of all of your options and can evenly weigh the pros and cons of each.

3 As required by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), you will be charged an initial mortgage insurance premium (MIP) at closing and, over the life of the loan, you will be charged an annual MIP based on the loan balance.

4 A spouse must meet the following requirements to be considered eligible: 1) Be the spouse of the reverse mortgage borrower at the time of loan closing and remain the spouse of the borrower for the duration of the borrower’s lifetime. 2) Be properly disclosed to the lender at origination and specifically named as a Non-Borrowing Spouse in the loan documents. 3) Occupy, and continue to occupy, the property securing the reverse mortgage as the principal residence.

5 Your current mortgage(s) and any other existing liens against the property must be paid off at or before closing. You must live in the home as your primary residence, continue to pay required property taxes, homeowners insurance, and maintain the home according to FHA requirements. Failure to meet these requirements can trigger a loan default that may result in foreclosure.