Reverse Mortgage FAQs

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Here are some common Reverse Mortgage FAQs

Why should I get a Reverse Mortgage instead of refinancing, financing or getting a home equity loan?
With a Reverse Mortgage, you do not have to make any monthly mortgage payments (homeowners must keep property taxes, insurance and HOA dues paid current and must maintain the home as their primary residence). Your credit score is also not the main determining factor for approval. Even if you have been turned down for a regular mortgage you still may qualify for a Reverse Mortgage.

Is a Reverse Mortgage a Safe Product?
A Reverse Mortgage is one of the safest loans you may possibly have. 95% of all Reverse Mortgages fall into the category of HECM’s (Home Equity Conversion Mortgage) which are insured by the HUD through the US Government. HUD has certain guidelines and protections that regulate the fees, expenses and interest rate you can be charged. You also must attend a counseling session by an approved HUD counselor to give you independent information. Other types of Reverse Mortgages also have similar protections built in.

Will a Reverse Mortgage affect my children or other heirs?
If the children or heirs want to keep the house once you no longer occupy it they can, payoff the Reverse Mortgage through any means available to them or purchase the home if the loan balance is higher than the value. Otherwise, they may sell the house to repay it and keep any remaining equity. We strongly suggest that Reverse Mortgage applicants have a will in place to direct their heirs what to do with the home.

Like any other financial transaction, getting a reverse mortgage involves a number of steps designed to protect both you and the lender. Here are the steps you can expect to go through when you apply for your reverse mortgage with Melinda Hipp and Open Mortgage:

With a Reverse Mortgage, not only do you not have to make any monthly mortgage payments (homeowners must keep property taxes, insurance and HOA dues paid current and must maintain the home as their primary residence), you also do not have to worry about credit or income qualifications. Even if you are behind on your mortgage or headed into bankruptcy or foreclosure*, you may still be able to obtain a Reverse Mortgage. *Must meet guideline requirements.

What is the Reverse Mortgage process and what are the costs?
Like any other financial transaction, getting a reverse mortgage involves a number of steps designed to protect both you and the lender. Here are the steps you can expect to go through when you apply for your reverse mortgage with Melinda Hipp and Open Mortgage:

  1. Initial Discussion
    The first step we like to take is talk with you, either over the phone or in person, about whether a reverse mortgage is right for you. We talk about the pros and cons, how it works, the various options, how much money you might receive and anything else you’d like to know. Then you decide whether you wish to take the next step.
  2. Documentation
    At this point you will begin collection the documents required to be approved for the Reverse Mortgage. These may include such things as: mortgage statements, homeowners insurance, survey of your home, bank statements, ID’s, paystubs or other proof of income and tax returns. These documents may be provided before or after step 3.
  3. Counseling
    If you decide that a reverse mortgage is the right choice, you will receive independent counseling from a certified, HUD-approved counselor to make sure that you have had all your questions answered and that there’s been no confusion. A list of available counselors is available from me for your use. It’s a protection device that HUD has built into the process of obtaining a reverse mortgage.
  4. Appraisal
    Once counseling is completed, we arrange for an appraisal to determine the objective market value of your home, and whether any repairs will be required to meet Federal Housing Administration guidelines. In some cases an inspection is required to make sure that the home is structurally sound and that there’s no extensive termite or foundation damage. Sometimes repairs may be required and the costs may possibly be rolled into your reverse mortgage.
  5. Underwriting
    After the appraisal and inspection reports come in we go through all the normal processing procedures that you might find in any mortgage process. The file is sent to an underwriter for review to make sure all guidelines have been met.
  6. Closing
    The final step is the closing with a notary and after a three day waiting period you will receive the money, or proceeds, from your reverse mortgage. On a Purchase, the loan will fund the same day. On a Refinance, you can choose to receive the payment in one of three ways: as a lump sum, as a monthly payment or as a line of credit. Then it’s up to you: pay bills, fix up the house, help a family member, or use the money to enjoy your life.

Just like a traditional mortgage, there will be costs associated with obtaining the loan.

These may include: an origination fee, appraisal fee, title and recording fees, survey if necessary, attorney’s fees and mortgage insurance costs. However, all these costs can be financed into the Reverse Mortgage and not paid out of pocket. You will be provided an estimate of these costs. There are absolutely no so called “junk” fees allowed in a reverse mortgage. On a Purchase there may be additional fees depending on the location of the home and the terms of the contract.

What are the interest rates and how are they calculated?
Reverse Mortgages may come in three options based on each individuals amount of equity in the home. The first option, a fixed rate, you may borrow a maximum of 60% of your approved loan amount, the remaining funds will not be available at any time. In the other two options, which are variable rates, one any leans are paid off you may borrow up to 60% or your appraised loan amount (or 10% over your lean pay offs whichever is higher). Then you may choose to either leave the remaining funds in a line of credit or take monthly payments. Whichever works best for you. The variable rate option is based on the LIBOR index. It is a very stable index and can be observed in the financial news each day. A lender’s margin is added to this index each month to calculate that month’s rate. All rates have caps that keep the rate from adjusting too high even though historically, the rate has never come close to the max allowed.

How do you calculate the amount I can receive from my Reverse Mortgage?
There are several factors that determine the amount you can receive from your Reverse Mortgage. The primary factors are: your age, the age of your spouse, the market value of your home, the current amount owed on the home and the specific Reverse Mortgage program you select. A real estate appraiser will determine the market value based on the sales in your neighborhood among other things. Generally, the older you are, the more of your equity you can access, up to a max at age 90. (for calculations on a Reverse for Purchase click here)

If one of the homeowners is significantly younger or under 62, that spouse is not required to be on the Reverse Mortgage. They would qualify as a Non-Borrowing spouse. If the spouse on the Reverse Mortgage passes away or no longer occupies the house, the non-borrowing spouse will be allowed to remain in the home although they will not have access to any other funds from the Reverse Mortgage and must continue to pay the taxes, insurance and maintain the home. (THIS OPTION IS NOT AVAILABLE IN TEXAS). Typically, the remaining spouse may want to remain in the home anyway or the spouse may choose to pay the loan with life insurance from the estate of the deceased spouse. Both spouses MUST receive counseling and sign that they understand the obligations.

What are the options for receiving the cash from my Reverse Mortgage?
There are three basic options for receiving your cash, or you can do a combination:

  • A one-time lump sum payment after all mortgages or other liens are paid off.
  • Monthly payments based upon a preset amount of time (after which the payments stop) or a lifetime guaranteed payment similar to an annuity.
  • A line-of-credit that you may draw from whenever you wish. The balance in the line-of-credit increases each month to take advantage of your home’s appreciation and your increasing age. The funds from your line-of-credit are not added to your loan balance until you withdraw them.

How can I use my Reverse Mortgage proceeds?
You can use your Reverse Mortgage proceeds for anything! There are absolutely NO restrictions on how the money may be used. Pay off debt, fix up the house, buy a new car or vacation home, go on an extended trip or simply put the money aside to pay for future healthcare needs, long-term care insurance or other dreams. It’s your decision.

Is the money I receive from a Reverse Mortgage taxable or does it affect social security or other subsidized programs?
There are generally no income taxes on any Reverse Mortgage income as most people have already paid taxes on this money in their earlier years. In addition, the Reverse Mortgage income does not affect any regular Social Security or Medicare programs. If you participate in any NEEDS based program such as Medicaid or SSI, you will have to consult with your particular benefits counselor for information on how a Reverse may affect these benefits. Also, if you wish to put your monthly income in a Qualified Income Trust once you have closed, you may still do so. (But check with your elder law specialist)

Will the lender ever take my home?
Just like a traditional mortgage, you retain the title to your home. The lender has no right to any part of your home or its future increases in equity above the payoff of the mortgage. And again, even if you owe more than the home is worth in the end, you or your heirs will NEVER have to reach into your pockets to pay back more than the home can be sold for as this is insured by the HUD FHA mortgage insurance program. There are specific guidelines that must be followed that will be explained.

What safeguards are there for seniors?
We are a member of the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA). Our Reverse Mortgage Specialists adhere to and maintain standards and a code of conduct that are aimed at protecting the interests of the senior community and their families.

We realize that although Reverse Mortgage products can be an excellent financial solution, they may not be the cure all for your financial needs.

  • We strongly encourage all senior candidates to reach out and seek advice from loved ones: family and friends, as well as financial and/or legal advisers regarding their decision to move forward with a Reverse Mortgage. Before a Reverse Mortgage application is written, we will provide you with the name of a professionally trained HUD approved counselor, and you will arrange for them to furnish you with an expert objective overview and discuss with you all the Reverse Mortgage options.

Ultimately, our goal is to help our senior clients find the perfect solution for their needs. To do so, we firmly believe in educating our clients to the utmost, and allowing them access to straightforward, objective information and answers.

May I use a Reverse Mortgage to purchase a home?
Yes you may! Please visit Reverse Mortgage for Purchase for further information.

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