Reverse Mortgage: How It Works and Is It Right for You?

A reverse mortgage loan can be a powerful financial tool for retirees and those nearing retirement. It allows you to tap into your home's equity for extra financial support. But what exactly is a reverse mortgage, and how do you know if it’s right for you?

What is a Reverse Mortgage?

A reverse mortgage is a loan that allows senior homeowners to borrow money against the equity of their homes, which is the house's current market value. The loan provides additional funds to older adults who want to supplement their retirement income or pay off debt. In most cases, one only needs to repay the loan once the homeowner passes away or moves out of the house.

Who Qualifies for a Reverse Mortgage?

While a reverse mortgage sounds like a great way to get supplemental income, its availability is limited to borrowers. To be eligible, you must be 62 years or older and be a homeowner. You must also have significant home equity and be the house's primary resident.

In addition, you also have to attend a counseling session with an independent housing counselor approved by HUD (the Department of Housing & Urban Development).

How Much Money Can I Get?

Many factors are considered when determining how much money you can get from a reverse mortgage. The amount allocated is determined by the price of the home at its current market value. The more your home is worth, the more you can borrow. If your home has a high balance of the remaining mortgage, the less money you will be allowed to borrow.

Your age is also a factor when determining your reverse mortgage amount. Usually, the older you are, the more likely you are to get more money, as you probably have more equity in your home.

It is also important to note that you can borrow more money if your interest rates are lower. Additionally, your current interest rate will also affect the amount of interest you will pay over the life of the loan.

How Do I Get a Reverse Mortgage?

Once you have qualified for a reverse mortgage, you can receive your funds in several ways.

Single Lump Sum Payment

You can get a one-time payment of the total loan amount. This option may be helpful if you have an immediate need for a large amount of money, such as paying off debts or making home repairs.

Monthly Tenure Payments

This option will let you get equal monthly payments based on your reverse mortgage for as long as you live in the home. A tenure plan also has an adjustable interest rate. This is a good option if you are looking for a steady source of income during your retirement years.

Term Payments

Like tenure payments, term payments allocate equal monthly payments based on your reverse mortgage, but for a specific period, such as 10 or 15 years. This is a good option if you are looking for a shorter-term source of income to help support your retirement savings.

Line of Credit

This option allows you to draw on the loan proceeds as needed, similar to a credit card or home equity line of credit. This can be a good option if you want to access the funds when necessary.

When you get the money, you can use it for any purpose, including medical care, living expenses, repairs and renovations on your home, and travel expenses. You will not be required to make any monthly payments while you are still living in your home. However, taxes and insurance must still be paid monthly, like any other mortgage loan.

Making the Decision

A reverse mortgage can provide you with much-needed cash and security during retirement. However, there are also potential drawbacks that you should consider before taking out this type of loan.


A reverse mortgage will ultimately provide you with additional income to use for any purpose. No monthly payments are involved in the process, and you don’t need any income or credit qualifications to qualify for a reverse mortgage. The last main advantage of a reverse mortgage is that you can maintain home ownership.


Although there are many advantages to a reverse mortgage, there are disadvantages to consider as well. The money you obtain comes with interest rates, fees, and monthly insurance premiums. The mortgage will result in reduced equity and the risk of foreclosure. The funds you have access to may also be limited and more complex to obtain than initially anticipated.

The Risk of Predatory Lenders

Predatory lenders impose unfair and abusive loan terms on borrowers who do not understand the lending policies. Reverse mortgages appeal to predatory lenders because they target vulnerable older homeowners, who may mistakenly believe they will never have to pay back the loan.

If you’re considering taking out a reverse mortgage, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself from predatory lenders. Shopping around and comparing different lenders can help you find one with reasonable terms and fees. Additionally, ensure you understand all of the loan details and the risks involved before signing anything or making any commitment.

Make sure to speak with a financial advisor or a HUD-approved counselor before deciding if a reverse mortgage is suitable. If you suspect you're being scammed, don't hesitate to contact the National Center for Elder Abuse (NCEA) or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) for help.


Reverse mortgages can be a blessing or a bane, depending on your situation. In some cases, they can offer financial relief and flexibility for retirees or those struggling with the increasing cost of living. But in other cases, they can lead to financial burdens and cause more harm than good.

It’s critical to understand exactly what a reverse mortgage entails and its pros and cons. This way, you can make an informed decision that results in the best possible outcome for you and your family.

You Might Also Like: