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Financial Answer Center

Reverse Mortgage

What Is a Reverse Mortgage?

A reverse mortgage allows homeowners, age 62 or older, the opportunity to convert part of the equity in their homes into cash without having either to sell their homes or to borrow money and make monthly loan repayments. With a reverse mortgage, money is received from the lender and generally doesn't have to be repaid until the homeowner dies, sells his or her home, or no longer lives in the home as a principal residence.

A reverse mortgage provides a valuable source of retirement income that many seniors use to supplement Social Security, meet unexpected medical expenses, make home improvements, and more. For an individual facing a retirement income shortage or an increased dependency on medical care, reducing home equity with a reverse mortgage may be preferable to selling the home to raise much-needed cash. Alternatively, reverse mortgages are growing in popularity as a retirement planning option for the wealthy. However, be aware that reverse mortgage fees are typically high and the loan balance grows every year.

The government requires lenders to provide access to third-party independent counseling agencies to assist potential borrowers evaluate whether to apply for a reverse mortgage. This provision helps ensure that potential borrowers fully understand the requirements and implications of reverse mortgages.

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