Reverse Mortgage Primer: A Realtor’s Notes

For Homeowners Over 62, a Reverse Mortgage Could Address Some Financial Needs

Jim Smith Golden RE Logo

Recently our agents and I received training on Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECM), better known a “reverse mortgages.” These loans can be taken out on your current home or used to purchase a new home. What makes them particularly attractive is how they can turn your home from an expense (if you have a mortgage currently) into a source of money for the rest of your life after age 62.

In a normal mortgage, you have monthly payments of PITI—principal plus interest plus taxes and insurance. With a reverse mortgage, the principal increases instead of decreases because the principal and interest is being drawn from the equity you have in your house.

If you have longevity in your genes and don’t need to leave the value of your house to your heirs, this can be a good solution because no matter how long you live, as long as you continue to live in your house, you will never be “upside down.” The mortgage continues to be paid even after your equity is used up.  When you die and the house is sold by the lender, any shortage in payoff is covered by the mortgage insurance which is built into the loan.

This scenario is not for everyone, but it has enough advantages that it is worth speaking with a reverse mortgage specialist who can study your financial situation and help you decide if a reverse mortgage is right for you.

We had such a specialist — James Spray of, dba The Mortgage Company — speak to us and answer such questions as:

What happens if both husband and wife are on the mortgage and one of them dies? The surviving spouse can stay in the house until he or she dies.

What if you go into assisted living? Once all borrowers on the loan no longer live in the house, the loan must be paid. If there’s still equity in the house, it can be listed and sold just like any other house, and the loan is paid off.  If the equity has been exhausted and you’re “under water,” then you deed the home over to the lender and walk away not owing anything.

What if a son or daughter wants to buy the house? They can buy the house, with the loan paid off at closing, but if the house has negative equity, they can buy the house from the lender for 95% of its appraised value, regardless of how large the principal had grown.

Are property taxes and insurance escrowed? No, you must pay those directly, along with any HOA dues.

Can you take cash out when you refinance with a reverse mortgage? Yes, depending on your age, you can take out half or more of your home’s appraised value when you refinance into a reverse mortgage. The older you are, the more you can take out, based on actuarial tables. That’s why I say that if you have longevity in your genes, you could take out your full equity in your home before you die and continue to live in the house until all borrowers die without making any mortgage payments again—just taxes, insurance and HOA dues.

Can I sell my house and downsize? You should do that before you take out a reverse mortgage. Sell your house now, buy your perfect “forever” home, and finance it with the reverse mortgage, putting down only the minimum down payment based on the actuarial tables.  Keep the other proceeds from the sale of your current home as cash to spend, save or invest as you wish.

What about Social Security?  As you know, you get a much higher Social Security payment if you wait until age 70 to start drawing it.  Refinancing or purchasing with a reverse mortgage at age 62 could make it possible by lowering your living costs for you to wait until age 70 to start drawing Social Security.

What if my credit isn’t very good? Unlike with a regular mortgage, credit is not a factor in approving a reverse mortgage, barring recent bankruptcy or other derogatory factors. You need only prove that you’ll be able to keep paying the taxes, insurance and HOA fees (if any) on your home. Not doing so risks foreclosure.

You probably have many other questions.  If I can’t answer them for you, I’d be happy to connect you with Jim Spray or another specialist.

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The above article is to be/was published in the Denver Post on September 8, 2016 by Realtor Jim Smith of Golden Real Estate, Inc. His office is located in Jefferson County, Colorado. It is reprinted here with permission/blessings of the author.

Financially Speaking™ James Spray RMLO, CNE, FICO Pro | CO LMO 100008715 | NMLS 257365 |September 2, 2016

Notice: The information on this blog is opinion and information. While I have made every effort to link accurate and complete information, I cannot guarantee it is correct. Please seek legal assistance to make certain your legal interpretation and decisions are correct for your situation. This information is not legal advice and is for guidance only. You may reproduce this information in whole and not in part, providing you give full attribution to James Spray.

The PURCHASE Reverse Mortgage (H4P)

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What Is A Purchase Reverse Mortgage?

By way of background, a previous blog on reverse mortgages discusses the general facts regarding reverse mortgages. Let’s talk specifically about the purchase reverse mortgage, which is otherwise known as the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) for purchase [H4P]. This product was created by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA). The product is insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and guaranteed by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). In short, the purchase reverse is a way to purchase a home with only a down payment. In addition to the down payment, the buyer is responsible for paying the homeowners insurance, property taxes and (if applicable) Home Owner Association (HOA) fees. There are no principal or interest payments required. However, one may make principal and interest payments by choice not necessity. Finally, if the loan balance on the reverse mortgage eventually exceeds the home’s value, the lender is insured against that loss.

Who Is It Good For?

BORROWER: Age 62 and older based on the youngest titleholder. A non-borrowing spouse under the age of 62 may be added to the loan providing the spouse is over the age of 18. There is no credit required, nor a credit score requirement and only minimal income requirements. This is a minimum documentation loan.

PROPERTY: Single family homes as well as 2-4 unit residential properties and all FHA approved condos are eligible. Title may be held as fee simple, a living trust, and leasehold or life estate. The property must meet FHA appraisal requirements. If the property does not meet FHA criteria (health and safety issues), a set aside account will be established for up to six months while the health and safety requirements of the FHA appraisal criteria are met. The property may be either an existing home or a new build home, so long as the property meets FHA standards.

Purchase Price Age Down Payment HECM Funds
$300,000 62 $174,688 $138,300
74 $153,088 $159,900
80 $138,388 $174,600
86 $118,888 $194,100
$636,150 62 $363,596 $293,265
74 $317,793 $339,067
80 $286,622 $370,239
86 $244,272 $411,589

October 9, 2017 – Pricing is subject to change at any time.

To illustrate – let’s look at the example of a $250,000.00 purchase at age 74: To purchase the residence, the HECM borrower would need $131,750 to close on the purchase of a $250,000.00 property. The balance of the proceeds are provided with the HECM as a benefit of the HECM program and include closing costs. In all examples of HECM purchase mortgages, no mortgage payments are required. All that must be paid out-of-pocket on an annual basis are real estate taxes, homeowners insurance and HOA fees (if applicable). There are no required payments of principal, interest, or other mortgage costs (including upfront costs) until termination of the HECM.

Who Likes Reverse Mortgages The Best? The Borrowers Who Have One!

95% Partially to fully meets my financial needs

93% Positive effect on my life

89% Would refer a friend

94% Report peace of mind

89% Report a more comfortable lifestyle

87% Report a better quality of life
                                                                             Source: AARP December, 2007. Survey of 1500 HECM Borrowers

Why It Can Be Good

A reverse mortgage for purchase allows older Americans to buy a house that better suits their needs without dumping all their retirement assets into it, which would be the case in an all-cash transaction. It also lets them avoid dipping into their monthly fixed income, which would occur if they took out a traditional mortgage. It provides more purchasing power  and doesn’t drain all of the assets. It allows a buyer the luxury to get a better lot, to add all the upgrades they want and to still have no mortgage payment.

The home is titled in the owner’s home; as with all mortgages, the lender retains a security interest in the title. There are no monthly mortgage payments. Instead, the loan is repaid when the home is sold or the borrower no longer resides in the home. The repayment to the lender includes the amount borrowed, plus accumulated interest. Any remaining equity belongs to the borrower, heirs or estate. The heirs may purchase the property for the balance due or 95% of the value, whichever is less.

TIPS: There are no concessions allowed by sellers, builders or agents; this includes any personal property. As well, the buyer must pay for the title insurance. There can be no repair set-asides; all repairs, where major property deficiencies, such as

  • No running water
  • Leaking roof
  • No primary heating source
  • Inadequate electrical system (including lighting)
  • Inoperable doors and windows (inhibited ingress and egress)
  • State or local code violations

which threaten the health and safety of the homeowner and/or jeopardize the soundness and security of the property, must be completed by the seller prior to closing. (H4P FAQs per HUD).

NOTICE: (1) Rates are subject to change without notice. For specific and current information contact me or your H4P Specialist. (2) The illustrations in the above chart titled: *Examples by Buyers Age and Purchase Price, are representative examples only. The figures are not intended to be anything other than representative illustrations in order to convey the concept of the purchase reverse mortgage.

DISCLOSURE: The information provided herein is not intended to be an indication of loan approval or a commitment to lend. Additional program guidelines may apply. Information is subject to change without notice.

DISCLAIMER: This post does not represent that any of the information provided is approved by HUD or FHA or any US Government Agency.

Image attribution
Financially Speaking™ James Spray, MLO, CNE, FICO Pro
CO LMO 100008715 | NMLS 257365January 11, 2010 | Updated April 15, 2017
Notice: The information on this blog is opinion and information. While I have made every effort to link accurate and complete information, I cannot guarantee it is correct. Please seek legal assistance to make certain your legal interpretation and decisions are correct. This information is not legal advice and is for guidance only. You may use this information in whole and not in part providing you give full attribution to James Spray.