Reverse mortgages are available through lenders insured by the federal government and can be of great benefit to those who are eligible to apply. There are three types of reverse mortgages currently available in the United States, including Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECM), Fannie Mae (FNMA) Home Keeper and Financial Freedom Cash Accounts. The basic premise of a reverse mortgage is that it allows homeowners over the age of sixty-two to convert part of the equity in their homes into tax-free income without having to sell the home, give up the title to the home, or take on a new monthly mortgage payment. The reverse mortgage is titled as such because lenders pay the borrower fixed payments or a lump sum over time as opposed to a traditional mortgage arrangement. Eligible property includes single-family dwellings, manufactured homes built after June 1976, condominiums and town houses.
The process for applying for a reverse mortgage is more involved than with a traditional mortgage. Aside from meeting the age and property type restrictions, applicants must discuss the loan with a counselor employed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development prior to signing. There are five different types of payment methods for each United States government insured loan available, allowing for flexibility to meet the needs of the applicants. These include monthly, quarterly, semi-annual and annual payments to the borrower for a fixed number of periods or a lump sum that can be invested.
Repayment terms also vary by the interest rate, as with traditional mortgages. Those who choose variable rate mortgages will pay over one percent less since the risk assumed by the borrower for agreeing to monthly adjustable rate calculations can greatly increase their risk over the life of the mortgage. The total of the mortgage is due when the house is no longer occupied by the borrower and can be paid by the borrower or by his or her heirs in the event of death.
While many consider borrowing to be a bad idea later in life, reverse mortgages simply allow seniors to enjoy the equity they have already established without carrying the risk of having to meet monthly payments while on a reduced or fixed income. This can substantially increase the quality of life for many older Americans and allow them to enjoy the fruits of their life long labor.