Purchase Reverse Mortgages

front_doorAs of January 1, 2009 HUD began allowing seniors to purchase a new home using a reverse mortgage. This is exciting for seniors, 62 and over who have wanted to purchase a new residence but could not qualify under conventional underwriting standards and didn’t have the money available to buy the house outright.

This type of reverse mortgage is great for those who wish to downsize, move closer to family and friends, move into senior communities for the activities or amenities they offer, or those who find that their current home simply does not meet their needs any longer such as those needing wider halls for wheel chair access and those needing single story homes that currently reside in multiple story properties.

As fantastic as this program is, we’re finding that there remains a lot of confusion among borrowers and Realtors alike about exactly how the HECM for purchase works. Please download our Purchasing a Home With a Reverse Mortgage Brochure. Also, please be sure to review the frequently asked questions below. They are broken down into two sections. The first section addresses mainly borrower related questions, while the second section addresses Realtor related questions.

Section 1: Borrower FAQ’s about the Reverse Mortgage for home purchase

1. What is a Purchase Reverse Mortgage?

A reverse mortgage for purchase allows seniors ages 62 and older to purchase a primary residence using the loan proceeds from a HECM (Home Equity Conversion Mortgage).

2. Why use a HECM for purchase vs. a tradition mortgage?

One of the greatest benefits of a reverse mortgage is that monthly payments are not required as long as the home is occupied as a primary residence, whereas a traditional mortgage requires monthly payments. Additionally, a reverse mortgage does not have the strict credit and income underwriting guidelines that traditional mortgages have. It is important to note that even though the borrower is not making monthly payments with the reverse, the borrower absolutely must keep their homeowners insurance current, pay their property taxes, keep the home in good repair and pay any other costs that may be associated with the home (for example: Home Owners Association Fees).

3. Why is counseling required?

Counseling is mandatory as a safeguard to be certain that all borrowers fully understand the reverse mortgage program. Also, during the counseling session, the counselor will review options other than a reverse mortgage that may be beneficial to the senior.

4. Can gifts be used for down payment?

Yes. Gift funds from family members are acceptable forms of down payment.

5. What are acceptable sources for down payment?

Prospective mortgagors must use their own money (money obtained from sale of assets, and/or sale of current home) for the required monetary investment. Examples include:

  • Checking/Savings account
  • Money market account
  • Gift from family
  • Sale of stocks/bonds

6. How will assets used for down payment be verified?

The two most recent, consecutive original bank statements, belonging to the borrower, which cover the most recent three-month period and previous month’s balance. Note: must provide all pages of the bank statement even if blank. If there is a large increase in an account, or the account was opened recently, a credible explanation of the source of those funds is required.

7. How much down payment is required?

The amount of down payment required is based on several factors including the age of the youngest homeowner, the appraised value or max claim amount of the property and current interest rates. It’s best to use our reverse mortgage calculator or contact us directly to determine the required investment amount.

Section 2: Realtor FAQ’s about the Reverse Mortgage for home purchase

1. What property types are eligible? Which are not?

Eligible: Existing one-to-four unit properties where construction has been completed and the property is habitable. Single family residence, condos, town homes and some manufactured homes.


  • Cooperative units;
  • Newly constructed residence where a Certificate of Occupancy or its equivalent has not been issued by the appropriate local authority;
  • Boarding houses;
  • Bed and breakfast establishments;
  • Existing manufactured homes built before June 15, 1976; and
  • Existing manufactured homes built after June 15, 1976 that fail to conform to the Manufactured Home Construction Safety Standards, as evidenced by affixed certification labels (e.g., data plate and HUD certification label) and/or lack a permanent foundation as required in HUD’s Permanent Foundations for Manufactured Housing Guide.

2. Can the senior participate in a rent back agreement with the seller?

No.  When purchasing a new principal residence, the HECM borrower has 60 days to occupy the home. The buyer and seller should agree to an occupancy date.

3. Are there special procedures for homes being purchased that are in foreclosure?

No. We often find that homes in foreclosure are in need of a little TLC. The purchase reverse mortgage will follow FHA’s guidelines in regard to necessary repairs. A good rule of thumb is that anything that presents a health or safety issue will need to be corrected.

4. Are there special requirements for first time home buyers?

No. All borrowers are required to go through counseling.

5. Is seller financing permitted?


6. Are seller concessions allowed?

HECM for Purchase Program: New Features for 2023

  1. Assistance with Borrower’s Fees: Now, parties involved in the home buying process (like sellers, agents, and builders) can contribute up to 6% of the home’s cost to help with various fees.
  2. Uses of the 6% Contribution: This amount can cover expenses such as origination fees, closing costs (including credit reports and appraisals), prepaid items, discount points, interest rate reductions, and the initial mortgage insurance premium. However, it cannot be used for counseling fees.
  3. Additional Funding Options: Apart from the HECM loan, you can use other sources like premium pricing, gifts, disaster relief grants, and employer assistance to fund your share of the purchase.
  4. Premium Pricing Credits: Deals from mortgage companies or third-party originators are exempt from the 6% limit, provided they are not the seller, agent, builder, or developer.
  5. Seller-Related Fees: Usual seller fees, such as real estate commissions and home warranty costs, are permitted and do not count towards the 6% limit.
  6. PACE Liens: Clearing a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) lien by the seller is not considered an interested party contribution under this program.

These updates make buying a home easier under the HECM for Purchase program by allowing more financial support from various sources.

For More Information:

  • Check the FHA Single Family Housing Policy Handbook at Hud.gov.
  • Refer to the Federal Register for detailed updates.

7. Is a home that is under construction eligible for the HECM for purchase?

Not immediately. Once a certificate of occupancy has been issued, then the lender can take the application and proceed with the loan.


Below is the Mortgagee Letter about the purchase reverse mortgage:

HUD’s Mortgagee Letter about HECM for Home Purchase

October 20, 2008


SUBJECT: Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) for Purchase Program

The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA) provides HECM mortgagors with the opportunity to purchase a new principal residence with HECM loan proceeds. Section 2122(a)(9) of HERA amends section 255 of the National Housing Act to authorize the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to insure HECMs used for the purchase of a 1- to 4-family dwelling unit. Accordingly, eligible mortgagors now have the opportunity to purchase a principal residence with HECM loan proceeds. HECM for purchase transactions, for which the FHA case number is assigned on or after January 1, 2009, must satisfy existing program requirements and the provisions of this Mortgagee Letter.

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) defines “HECM for Purchase” as a real estate purchase where title to the property is transferred to the HECM mortgagor, which the mortgagor will occupy as a principal residence, and, at the time of closing, the HECM first and second liens will be the only liens against the property. HECM mortgagors must occupy the property within 60 days from the date of closing. Lenders are required to ensure all outstanding or unpaid obligations incurred by the prospective mortgagor, in connection with the HECM transaction, are satisfied at closing.

Eligible Property Types

Only properties where construction is completed, as defined in Mortgagee Letter 2007-06, are eligible for FHA insurance under the HECM for Purchase program. Loan proceeds may be used to satisfy outstanding payment obligations associated with a land contract, contract for deed or other similar purchasing arrangements that will ensure the property, which will be used as collateral for the HECM, meets FHA’s title requirements. Those requirements, as provided in section 255(b)(4) of the National Housing Act and implemented in the HECM regulations at 24 CFR 206.45, provide, in part, that the HECM must be on real estate held in fee simple, or on a leasehold under a lease for not less than 99 years which is renewable, or under a lease having a remaining period of not less than 50 years beyond the date of the 100th birthday of the youngest mortgagor.

Ineligible Property Types

The following property types are ineligible for FHA insurance under the HECM for Purchase program: · Cooperative units; · Newly constructed principal residence where a Certificate of Occupancy or its equivalent has not been issued by the appropriate local authority; · Boarding houses; · Bed and breakfast establishments; · Existing manufactured homes built before June 15, 1976; and · Existing manufactured homes built after June 15, 1976 that fail to conform to the Manufactured Home Construction Safety Standards, as evidenced by affixed certification labels (e.g. data plate and HUD certification label) and/or lack a permanent foundation as required in HUD’s Permanent Foundations for Manufactured Housing Guide.

Property Flipping

Prospective mortgagors should be alert to efforts to coerce them into obtaining a reverse mortgage as part of a purchase contractual obligation, or purchasing a distressed home in need of substantial repairs but being sold at or above market rate.

As such, HECM lenders must take steps to ensure that: a) only current owners of record may sell properties that will be financed using FHA-insured mortgages; b) any resale of a property may not occur 90 or fewer days from the last sale to be eligible for FHA financing; and c) for resales that occur between 91 and 180 days where the new sales price exceeds 100% of the previous sales price, FHA will require additional documentation validating the property’s value. Lenders providing HECM financing for purchase transactions must comply with guidance provided in Mortgagee Letter 2006-14.

Refinancing and Existing Upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP)

The HECM refinance authority is only applicable when the property that serves as collateral for FHA-insurance remains the same. Therefore, existing HECM mortgagors who participate in a HECM for Purchase transaction are ineligible for a reduction of the upfront MIP and lenders must enter the transaction into FHA Connection as a new HECM.

Monetary Investment

Consistent with existing policy, the maximum claim amount and principal limit will continue to be calculated in accordance HECM regulations at 24 CFR 206.3, HUD Handbook 4235.1 REV-1, and applicable MLs. At closing, HECM mortgagors must provide a monetary investment which will be applied to satisfy the difference between the HECM principal limit and the sales price for the property, plus any HECM loan related fees that are not financed or offset by other allowable FHA funding sources. HECM mortgagors may choose to provide a larger investment amount in order to retain a portion of the available HECM proceeds for future draws.

Required Investment Examples

Example 1 Example 2Example 3
Appraised Value/MCA*$300,000$300,000$300,000
Sales Price$300,000$325,000$280,000
Principal Limit**$199,500$199,500$199,500
Minus Loan Fees$ 15,500$  15,500$  15,500
Avail. HECM proceeds$184,000$184,000$184,000
Req. Investment$116,000$141,000$ 96,000

* Appraised Value/MCA is defined as the maximum claim amount and is used to determine the principal limit which is the lesser of the appraised value or the FHA national mortgage limit. The principal limit is the maximum amount available to the HECM mortgagor.

** Assumes the age of the youngest HECM mortgagor is 67 and a principal limit factor of .665 for a 5% expected average mortgage interest rate.

In each example above, loan fees are deducted from the principal limit of the HECM. However, it is not required that loan fees be deducted from HECM proceeds. The mortgagor may pay loan fees as part of the required monetary investment and use all HECM proceeds toward the purchase transaction.

Funding Sources

HECM mortgagors must use cash on hand or cash from the sale or liquidation of the mortgagor’s assets for the required monetary investment.

Verification of Funding Sources

Lenders will be required to verify the source of all funds prior to closing. A verification of deposit, along with the most recent bank statement, may be used to verify savings and checking accounts. If there is a large increase in an account, or the account was opened recently, the lender must obtain a credible explanation of the source of those funds. Such documentation must be provided in the FHA case binder. Failure to provide the necessary documentation may result in a notice of rejection and delay of endorsement.

Gap Financing

Consistent with existing regulatory requirements at 24 CFR 206.32(a), HECM mortgagors may not obtain a bridge loan (also known as “gap financing”) or engage in other interim financing methods to meet the monetary investment requirement or payment of closing costs needed to complete the purchase transaction. This restriction includes subordinate liens, personal loans, cash withdrawals from credit cards, seller financing and any other lending commitment that cannot be satisfied at closing.

Gap Financing Example

A prospective HECM mortgagor completes the required reverse mortgage counseling and receives an estimate stating the required monetary investment could be $25,000. The prospective HECM mortgagor has $20,000 in liquid assets but is short the remaining $5,000. The prospective HECM mortgagor cannot take $5,000 from a credit card or obtain interim financing in order to deposit the money into their banking account in anticipation of being required to bring this amount to closing. However, the prospective HECM mortgagor may obtain the $5,000 from an allowable FHA funding source.

Enhanced Counseling

HUD-approved housing counseling agencies that have been approved to provide reverse mortgage counseling, must counsel those who anticipate using the HECM for Purchase option on all topics covered in this Mortgagee Letter and other HUD requirements and issuances.

Right of Rescission

The three-day right of rescission period is not applicable to HECM for Purchase transactions. Therefore, all initial advances may be disbursed on the day of closing by the settlement agent. However, FHA encourages lenders to seek their counsel’s opinion to assure compliance with Federal or State laws.

Closing Guidance

Lenders are required to ensure the property, when used as collateral for the HECM, meets the following property requirements:

· Will serve as the principal residence of the HECM mortgagor. · Construction is complete and a certificate of occupancy or its equivalent has been issued. · Any construction loan financing for the property, which will serve as the collateral for the HECM loan, is satisfied and the HECM liens will be in a first and second lien position and, at the time of closing, no other liens against the property exist.

Consistent with existing lending practices, lenders are responsible for determining whether a particular HECM loan is open or closed-end credit. In accordance with 24 CFR 206.43, lenders must comply with the regulatory disclosure requirements.


Brian D. Montgomery
Assistant Secretary for Housing-
Federal Housing Commissioner