A reverse mortgage is a loan for senior homeowners that uses a portion of the home’s equity as collateral. The loan generally does not have to be repaid until the last surviving homeowner permanently moves out of the property or passes away. At that time, the estate has approximately 6 months to repay the balance of the reverse mortgage or sell the home to pay off the balance. All remaining equity is inherited by the estate. The estate is not personally liable if the home sells for less than the balance of the reverse mortgage.
Eligibility for a reverse mortgage
To be eligible for a HECM reverse mortgage, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) requires that all homeowners be at least age 62. The home must be owned free and clear or all existing liens but be able to be satisfied with the reverse mortgage. If there is a mortgage balance, it can be paid off completely with the proceeds of the reverse mortgage loan at the closing. Generally there are no income or credit score requirements for a reverse mortgage.
Outliving the reverse mortgage
A reverse mortgage can not be outlived. As long as at least one homeowner lives in the home as their primary residence and maintains the home in accordance with FHA requirements (keeping taxes and insurance current) the loan does will not become due.