A reverse mortgage is a type of a secured loan for which a guarantee is required, typically in the form of residential real estate. It is offered to senior borrowers aged 55 and older to allow them to receive cash income in exchange for their home equity. This option is only available to persons who have a considerable equity or own a residential property meaning that they paid off their mortgage in full. They are allowed to continue to live in their home and receive cash income based on the home equity conversion mortgage limit, their age, and current interest rates.
What Are the Pros of a Reverse Mortgage?
The main benefit for borrowers is the fact that they have regular income post-retirement. They also get non-taxable income and retain title to their property. As an added benefit, homeowners can choose from a variety of disbursement options, including as monthly payments, line of credit, specified amount, or in full. In general, this can be a good option for seniors who need extra income and have a more limited choice of borrowing options. Access to loan funding is an issue for retirees as they no longer receive salaried income. A reverse mortgage is also a good option for individuals who want to stay in their property post-retirement as it is close to their friends, family, or community members. The property may also be close to amenities, community centres, healthcare providers, convenience stores, and shopping malls.
What Are the Cons of a Reverse Mortgage?
A major downside is that borrowers are still responsible for paying homeowners’ association fees, maintenance, insurance, and property taxes. A related problem with reverse mortgages is that borrowers may have their property foreclosed if they are unable to pay homeowner’s insurance or property taxes. There are also fees and charges to consider, including appraisal fees, interest rates, and administrative and closing costs. The latter include home inspection costs, title insurance, and land transfer tax.
Another downside to consider is that interest rates tend to be higher compared to other loan options. The rate depends on provider and term, and similar to other loan products, the longer the term, the higher the interest rate. The administrative and closing costs are also a factor to consider as they can be around $2,000. When it comes to interest charges, they are higher than that of home equity lines of credit and standard mortgages but are lower than payday loans and cash advances, credit cards, private equity lending, personal loans, and unsecured lines of credit.
Finally, a third downside is that as interest charges accrue, home equity goes down which makes it more difficult to qualify for other loan options.
How Do You Qualify for a Reverse Mortgage?
To qualify, customers must have sufficient equity and prove that the home they live in is their primary residence. The amount that can be borrowed depends on factors such as interest rates, outstanding balances on existing mortgages, current property value, and age of the youngest owner. Financial institutions also look at things like type of property, condition, and the age of all persons who are registered on the title.
Should You Get a Reverse Mortgage?
A reverse mortgage can be a good solution if you need money to repay debts, cover healthcare expenses, pay regular bills like gas, electricity, and water, or home repairs or improvements. Another reason to borrow is to use the proceeds to buy a long-term care insurance policy. This is an option for seniors who are likely to end up in an assisted living facility for an extended period. At the same time, many seniors are currently choosing not to transition to a nursing home given the fact that over 80 percent of Covid-19 related deaths occurred in long-term care facilities. This has resulted in increased interest in reverse mortgages on the part of seniors looking to access funds and finance home improvements and renovations. A reverse mortgage helps borrowers to pay for at-home care. One problem is that while home prices have been relatively stable so far, significant price drops are to be expected due to the global pandemic and economic downturn. An extended period of stagnating prices may also have a negative impact on how much equity homeowners are left with. It is typically rising values that mitigate the effect of interest rates which is an unlikely scenario due to the coronavirus. For new borrowers, depressed home values mean that they will be offered less for what their property was worth. For example, for seniors who want to access 30 percent of their equity for a home worth $600,000, they will get $300,000. If the property lost 20 percent of its value, they will only be able to get $144,000.
Those who choose to apply will first have a phone meeting arranged to discuss different loan solutions that may work for their financial circumstances and situation. As a next step, appraisal will be scheduled to provide an estimate of the property’s fair market value. Appraisers are looking at details such as desirability, neighborhood, location, age, upgrades, maintenance, exterior and interior size, and condition. Once the appraisal has been completed, the bank confirms the amount of financing the borrower qualifies for. This is mainly based on factors such as condition, location, age, and whether the property is a freehold, condo, or townhouse. The next step is to decide on both interest rate options and amount to draw.
When looking into reverse mortgages, it also pays to shop around and consider other options such as moving into assisted living residence, buying a smaller apartment or home, or getting a credit card, line of credit or personal loan. Note that Canadians can borrow between 40 and 55 percent of their property’s value, depending on which provider they go for.