Should I get a Reverse Mortgage or Avoid at All Costs? We compare a retirement with and without a reverse mortgage to make the decision easier for you to make. Also reasons you should avoid or NOT get a reverse mortgage loan.

Let us Compare a Retirement With and Without a Reverse Mortgage loan. The Home Equity Conversion Mortgage program is not for everyone and we give you reasons to avoid or not even take it below as well. We love providing unbiased information so you can make an educated decision in your retirement.

Increasingly more and more individuals are using a reverse mortgage in their old age to decrease their expenses or to increase the available budget. There are several uses and structures of a reverse mortgage. With seniors controlling close to $4T of home equity in the US it’s no wonder this program is now widely used as a retirement planning tool.

Home equity conversion mortgages can be used to eliminate mortgage payments or provide a line of credit to be used for emergencies and also for tenure payments where the equity in the house is used to get a fixed monthly payment.

An investment in a home is by far the biggest investment for any household. Using this asset judiciously can provide a means to maintain a good standard of living and also can serve as a buffer for emergency requirements.

Let us look at a couple of scenarios where reverse mortgage is used to help pay off the mortgage:

Reverse mortgage at an early stage: The earliest possible age when reverse mortgage can be taken is 62 years. Ben and Jennifer Smith are 64 and 63 years old. Both of them have been married for the past 35 years. They took a 30 year fixed mortgage when Ben was 34 years old. However, they had to refinance the loan 15 years back to meet medical emergency for Jennifer and convert it into a term loan of another 30-year period. They took a new mortgage of $180,000 when they refinanced their house.

Currently, they owe $122,646 on their house that has a value of $300,000. They are paying $966.28/month towards mortgage payments. By using the equity in their house, they wish to eliminate this payment. They both have retired and have had a long career. Their future plan is to retire in the same house and be able to live a simple retired life. They have sufficient retirement kitty and also can look forward to decent social security payments.

The financial calculation for the reverse mortgage for this couple is:

1 Interest rate index0.16% LIBOR 1 month Rate
2   Plus lender’s margin2.50% Margin taken by the lender
3 Initial loan interest rate2.66%
4   Plus mortgage insurance 1.25% 1.25% Margin of the FHA which is insuring the entire program
5 Initial total loan rate 3.91%
6 Initial credit line growth rate 3.98%
7 Lifetime cap on loan rate 12.66% Maximum interest rate within this program
8 HECM Expected Rate 5.01%
9 Monthly Service Fee $0.00
10 Value of the home$300,000
11 Home value limit $625,500 Maximum value to which the home value will be considered
12    Lesser of limit or home value $300,000
13 Loan principal limit $159,000
14    Less Service fee set-aside $0  
15 Available principal limit $159,000 Principal amount available for use
16    Less Financed Items
17       Loan origination fee $5,000
18       Mortgage insurance$7,500
19       Other closing costs $2,407.75 Fees attached with the program
20 Net Principal Limit $144,092 Final Principal available
21    Less Lump-Sum Cash  $122,646 Cash provided for removing the first mortgage and eliminating the payments
22      Fixed-Rate Unusable Funds $0.00
23    Less Selected Credit line$21,446.00 Line of credit available to the couple
24      Available In First Year$15,900 Amount available in the first year
25 Left for monthly advance $0
26    Monthly Advance$0.00
27      No more lien payments 0
28    Increase in monthly cash $0.00
29 Monthly Term Tenure
30 Total Fees & Costs$14,908 Total fees and cost involved in taking the loan

Cash payment of $122,646 is forwarded to the couple for payment towards a mortgage. This will eliminate their monthly payments of $966.28 or $11,595.36 per year. This is a huge relief for any retired couple. Besides this, the couple is also able to have a line of credit that can be used in future emergencies. This line of credit is $21,446 which can be used anytime in the future. If it is left unused for the next few years, it will increase according to the interest rate used by the bank.

The only issue in this program can be the high fees and costs attached to it. The couple ends up paying $14,908 as fees for removing a mortgage debt of $122,646. That is 12.15% additional amount spent on fees for a reverse mortgage. However on the flip side the couple can save a huge amount on the interest payments. The total interest payments for the next 15 years will add up to $52,763.11.

This gives a benefit of $52,763.11-$14,908 = $37,855.11 by using this program. Obviously the bigger benefit is that the couple in their older age will be able to have more money available for their monthly budget and will not have to worry about mortgage payments.

Reverse mortgage for eliminating second mortgage: Harry and Jane own a house that is currently valued at $140,000. The couple is currently 65 and 63 years old respectively. They have completed their first mortgage however ten years back they took $50,000 second mortgage on their house. The term period for this loan is 20 years that leaves another ten years of payment left. The current payment is $329.98/month. They wish to take a monthly tenure payment for the remaining amount of equity in their house. The couple owes $31,310 on the second mortgage.

The financial calculation for the couple is:

20 Net Principal Limit $68,588 Final Principal available
21    Less Lump-Sum Cash  $31,310 Cash provided for removing the second mortgage and eliminating the payments
22      Fixed-Rate Unusable Funds $0.00
23    Less Selected Credit line $0.00
24      Available In First Year $0
25 Left for monthly advance $37,278 Amount used for monthly payment
26    Monthly Advance $214.77 Monthly advance given to the couple
27      No more lien payments 0
28    Increase in monthly cash $214.77
29 Monthly Term Tenure Tenure payment
30 Total Fees & Costs $5,612 Total fees and cost involved in taking the loan

The couple gets an additional $214.77/month. This is a tenure payment and will be given to the couple till either of the spouses is alive. The total benefit for the household is $329.98 + $214.77 = $544.75. This can be a major income boost for a couple. The elimination of mortgage payments coupled with tenure monthly payments is an ideal approach to increasing the monthly cash available.
The cost and fees are $5,612 which is 17.92% of the total amount owed in the mortgage. However, the interest for the next ten years would have been $8,748. Hence, the net benefit to the couple is $8748-$5612= $3136.

Another benefit of taking reverse mortgage to eliminate mortgage payments is that after retirement the income decreases substantially or completely. This removes the tax incentives of having mortgage payments. Overall it is a win-win situation for most of the household. However, home equity is the final asset available for individuals during their retirement and any action pertaining to a reverse mortgage should be taken after thorough research and homework.

10 reasons to avoid a reverse mortgage at all costs.

  1. if you are planning on moving soon.
  2. Can’t afford the upkeep or the property taxes/insurance.
  3. Want your heirs to receive the most amount of equity.
  4. Have current or foreseeable health issues that will force you out of your home for 12 months or more.
  5. Don’t want to pay high fees to access your home equity.
  6. Avoid paying FHA’s 1.25% yearly insurance fee on the value of the home.
  7. Increasing loan amounts that can eat away at your equity.
  8. If you have a younger spouse who is not yet 62.
  9. Your medicaid benefits could be impacted.
  10. If you can comfortably fund your retirement without a reverse mortgage loan.

There are also many reasons why seniors are getting a reverse mortgage. It’s normal to have questions or concerns and we are available to answer any questions you may have.


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