January 9, 2015
Over the last decade, reverse mortgages have been marketed as an easy way for seniors to cash in their home equity to pay for living expenses. However, many have learned that improper use of the product – such as pulling all their cash out at one time to pay bills – has led to significant financial problems later, including foreclosure.
In actuality, there are some cases where reverse mortgages can be helpful to borrowers. However, it is imperative to do extensive research on these products before you sign.
Reverse mortgages are special kinds of home loans that let borrowers convert some of their home equity into cash. They come in three varieties: single-purpose reverse mortgages, Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECMs) and proprietary reverse mortgages.
Who can apply? Homeowners can apply for a reverse mortgage if they are at least 62 years old, own their home outright or have a low mortgage balance that can be paid off with the proceeds of the reverse loan. Qualifying homeowners also must have no delinquent federal debt, the financial resources to pay for upkeep, taxes and insurance and live in the home during the life of the loan.
Consider the following pros and cons as a starting point for trying or bypassing this loan choice. Even though HECM loans require a discussion with a loan counselor, you should bring in your own financial, tax or estate advisor to help you decide whether you have a safe and appropriate use for this product.
Pros of reverse mortgages:
Cons of reverse mortgages:
Bottom line: Reverse mortgages have become a popular, if controversial, loan option for senior homeowners. For some, they may be a good fit, but all applicants should get qualified financial advice before they apply.
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