“What goes up must come down,” so goes the saying. And, to that end, what goes forward should also go in reverse. Turns out the same also applies to mortgages, sort of. Except, instead of being a direct reverse from a”forward” mortgage, reverse mortgages are kind of their own special thing.
If you don’t read past this opening segment, just keep in mind that the major takeaway here is going to be that some reverse mortgages are great, some are bad and you need to always, always read the paperwork before signing on the dotted line. This goes doubly if your parents are thinking about a reverse mortgage and you’re likely to be helping them deal with their finances as they age.
Reverse Mortgages and Their Bad Reputation
When reverse mortgages were first getting fairly popular, banks willing to make the loans proliferated. And so did con artists who took advantage of an aging population made of people who were often desperate to hold on to their homes or simply were medically incapable of understanding the results of the monthly payment they’d receive.
This Was Great for Nobody But the Scammers
That’s why a whole lot of legislation has been written to cure these sorts of situations. Now, if you or your parents are worried that a reverse mortgage offer may be a scam, you can opt for an FHA reverse mortgage. It’s easy to verify that an FHA lender is legit, where it may be less clear if certain brokers are on the up and up.
You may get a better deal with a non-FHA reverse mortgage, however they provide confidence that you are on the ideal path and that’s worth something, too.
How Do Reverse Mortgages Work?
Reverse mortgages are designed to help individuals who are retirement age afford to stay in their homes longer. Generally, this means that mortgage payments prevent and there may even be some form of payment on the homeowner.
So, if your grandmother shows around the next family gathering in a brand new convertible roadster, it might be a fantastic idea to ask her about the terms of her reverse mortgage. Some are really helpful and adequate; others are not so much.
The good part is that reverse mortgages are now heavily regulated by the government, so it’s much harder for scammers to take advantage of older individuals who may be having money problems already.
They don’t require a credit pull or perhaps good credit. You just need a home that’s free and clear, or has a significant amount of equity, and be 62 or older. You will pay some fees upfront and be asked to complete HUD-approved counseling (you will pay a fee for this, also ) that will allow you to determine if you are really a fantastic fit for a reverse mortgage.
If you happen to die while you still own the house, your heirs have the option to redeem it from the reverse mortgage lender by paying off the borrowed amount in full. Usually this is achieved with another “forward” mortgage.
Reverse Mortgage Payment Options
One of the best things about a reverse mortgage is the money that comes back into the pocket of the borrower. You or your parents can choose just how that money is distributed, too.
Essentially, you have three options: taking a lump sum, taking a monthly payment or using it as a line of credit. There are also ways to blend and match these, so you may take a percentage as a lump sum for that flashy convertible and the remainder as a line of credit to use as you want to fill up on gas.
For a lot of seniors, a reverse mortgage may allow them to age in place without fear of losing their home (provided they keep up with the taxes and insurance).
This can be a great alternative as long as the source of the funds is fully vetted, all the paperwork is in order and read from top to bottom and they have a plan to make the money last as long as you can.