Myths, Pros and Cons of HECM Reverse Mortgages

Mike Borba (President Borba Investments, Inc. dba MLS Reverse Mortgage)
First and foremost; the bank does not, nor do they want to own your home. So why do so many people believe this? Prior to FHA getting involved in 1988, the lenders would take an equity position in their Borrowers homes.  That practice has resulted in unfavorable feelings towards today’s reverse mortgages. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has set the new standards and guidelines for HECM reverse mortgage loans and their involvement has produced a safe, well thought out and balanced loan for Seniors. Look below to find some of the pros and cons of reverse mortgages.
The Upsides
  • There are no monthly payments associated with a reverse mortgage. You will never be required to make a monthly payment while you reside in your home.
  • You stay on title and any equity remaining in the property is yours. The lender does not take title to your home!
  • You can never owe more money than your home is worth. HECM reverse mortgages are “nonrecourse” loans. This means that no matter how long you stay in your home, you will never be obligated to the lender to pay them any more than the value of the property, even if the loan exceeds the value.
  • A reverse mortgage will not effect Social Security or Medicare benefits.
  • Qualifying is easy. You must be at least 62 years of age and have value in you home. You do not not have to prove income or have good credit. The value of your home and your age determine loan amounts. It’s that simple.
  • The money you receive from your reverse mortgage is tax free.
  • The funds you receive can now be designed for your specific needs. Depending on the amount of funds you require, you can create your loan with a fixed or variable rate. You can also design your loan to provide one upfront payment of all cash, you can receive monthly payments or keep all of the funds due you in a line of credit and withdraw the funds as you need them. You can also create a combination of all three methods.
  • The funds from a reverse mortgage may be used anyway you want. After paying off any existing mortgages, tax liens or heath and/or safety issues regarding your home, you can use the funds for any purpose you desire. Take a vacation, you deserve it. Make repairs or upgrades to your home. Put all the cash on 7 and spin the wheel, the funds are yours.
  • You built the equity in your home over years of hard work, now you can let this equity work for you. You can feel the self reward and know that you are not necessarily reliant on your children or other family members to help you. There seems to be a since of pride that goes along with method.
  • FHA insures these loans. Given the state of this economy, you do not want to find out that the bank funding your monthly payments has gone out of business. With FHA insuring your loan proceeds, you can be comfortable knowing that your next payment will be guaranteed by the US government.
  • NRMLA. Lender/members of the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association are an elite group of individuals who are dedicated to helping American Seniors fulfill their retirement dreams. This group is available for you.
The Downsides
  • Lenders generally  charge their origination fees, FHA upfront mortgage insurance (MIP) and other closing costs that add up in a hurry. The flip-side to this, however, is that if you really need the funds from the equity in your home you could borrow the funds traditionally as long as you can afford the monthly payments or sell the property. If you sell the property, you are left without a home to live in and the 5-6% cost to sell your home is considerably higher than those fees assessed with a reverse mortgage. The longer you live in the property the lower the costs average out.
  • Most reverse mortgages require utilizing a variable rate. This can be overcome by using a fixed rate. Unfortunately, the fixed rate reverse mortgage requires that you draw all funds available to you and may not be the right loan for all applicants.
  • Your mortgage debt rises fairly quickly, but, there is no surprise that the loan increases rapidly since you do not make any payments while living in the property. The interest that would be due as in a traditional loan simply adds on and creates a new higher principle value.
  • Borrowers are of course responsible to keep the property properly maintained and they must stay current with their homeowners insurance and property tax.
All in all I believe the upside to reverse loans far outweighs the downsides. Call on a NRMLA member and do your homework.