What Will I Be Responsible For After I Get A Reverse Mortgage?

Reverse Mortgages have helped millions of seniors live more plentiful lives as they age.  Homeowners and their spouses over the age of 62 are eligible for Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECM), but although they will NOT have a monthly mortgage payment to pay, they are still responsible for some financial obligations regarding the home.  These include:

Property Taxes:

Just as with a conventional home loan, a reverse mortgage homeowner is always responsible for paying their property taxes.  Your particular county or city may have a program that allows you to defer a portion of your property tax.  Homeowners can contact their county human services office for more information.

Homeowners Insurance:

Just as with any conventional home loan, reverse mortgage holders are required to purchase and maintain homeowners insurance.  This yearly expense is something that should be discussed with your lender and a reverse mortgage counselor to ensure the homeowner understands their options and a plan is put in place to keep insurance current.

Home Maintenance: 

The homeowner or their family will be responsible for continuing to maintain and upkeep the home.  Because a reverse mortgage uses the equity available in the home to make it’s monthly mortgage payments, if major repairs are needed the homeowners will not be eligible for a home equity loan or similar.  It’s important to keep this in mind, especially when homeowners elect to receive their reverse mortgage funds in one lump sum.  Again, discussing this with your lender can help ensure you have planned to have funds available should a major home repair be needed.

Ultimately, understanding and planning for these expenses is key to being prepared in the years to come.  Working with and asking questions of a reputable reverse mortgage lender, as well as a reverse mortgage counselor, can help alleviate any concerns a homeowner may have.

Janice Cohen is a HECM Reverse Mortgage Specialist serving the Northridge, Reseda, Encino, Granada Hills, Sylmar, San Fernando, Sun Valley and many more areas of southern California.  Click here to contact Janice and learn if reverse mortgage is right for you.

Dissecting The Differences In Reverse Mortgage Professionals

When you start navigating the waters of reverse mortgages, you will undoubtedly come across MANY different companies and individuals ready and willing to help.  Flashy ads, website calculators, famous spokesmen, and more.  But who are all these people?  And what is the difference between them?  How do you know what is the best fit for YOU?

Here’s some information I think anyone considering a reverse mortgage needs to know about the various professionals who work in the industry:

Banks and Credit Unions – Most local banks and credit unions do not offer reverse mortgage loans, although sometimes the larger ones will.  Unfortunately seeking a loan through them can often mean little or no face-to-face time, and it’s not uncommon for these banks to leave the industry down the road.  At one time Wells Fargo and Bank of America were in the business, but they quit, leaving their borrowers with loans that few employees can understand and little help if reverse mortgage customers need it. 

Brokers – A reverse mortgage broker is a third party individual that is licensed by the state but doesn’t work directly with a lender, instead they essentially shop the marketplace.  When working with a broker, borrowers will pay higher fees because they will have to cover the costs of the broker.  In addition, because all transactions run through a third party, things can easily get slowed down or even stalled completely.

Direct Lender Specialists – This is the category I fall into.  Working directly with a lender that specializes in FHA insured HECM reverse mortgages, such as Retirement Funding Solutions, direct lender specialists are able to offer local, personal, face-to-face time with clients, and eliminate the need for costly third-party fees.  We are able to do all this while ensuring the smoothest, most efficient transaction possible because they are handling the loan and not farming it out to another company.

Reverse mortgages are available to individuals and married couples age 62 and older.  These FHA insured loans allow homeowners to live mortgage and loan payment free until they pass away, permanently leave the home (meaning 12 consecutive months), or they default on financial responsibilities associated with the home, such as property taxes or homeowner’s insurance.  The funds are available via monthly installments, a line of credit, a lump sum, or even to purchase a home

Janice Cohen is a HECM Reverse Mortgage Specialist serving the North Hollywood, Sunland, Tujunga, Burbank, Glendale, La Crescenta, Montrose and many more areas of southern California.  Click here to contact Janice and learn if reverse mortgage is right for you.

3 Things to Do with a Reverse Mortgage in California

One of the best parts of a reverse mortgage is the borrower(s) can do anything they’d like with the funds – while also living mortgage payment free.  In California, seniors are more active than ever, whether it be traveling, home improvements, or visiting with family and grandchildren often.

Here are 3 fulfilling ways seniors are using their reverse mortgage funds:

Take that trip they always dreamed of – After years of working hard, saving for retirement, and raising a family, some reverse mortgage borrowers are using a portion of their funds to take the bucket list vacation they’ve always dreamed of.  This option becomes less probable as they age and makes for a fantastic celebration by the more active seniors.

Visit with loved ones – Whether it’s a sister who hasn’t visited in 10 years, or children and grandchildren, or long lost friends, using reverse mortgage funds to visit with loved ones is a very common today.  Travel can be expensive and it holds us back far too often from the visits that mean the most to us, especially as we age.

Make home repairs or upgrades – After a life of caring for others, senior homeowners often find parts of their home may have been neglected.  When using a reverse mortgage to tap into home equity without a subsequent loan payment borrowers often make those repairs or upgrades they have been longing for.  Whether it’s a sunroom addition or a kitchen remodel, or just dutiful repairs, this is never a bad option.

Reverse mortgages are available to homeowners 62 and over.  This FHA insured loan offers funds through a lump sum, monthly installments, or a line of credit and eliminates monthly mortgage payments.  With many protections in place to ensure borrowers are adequately educated before using this option, such as required third-party counseling, reverse mortgages are gaining in popularity among retirees from all walks of life.  And a reverse mortgage for purchase option is available for those looking to purchase a new residence.

Why Reverse Mortgage for Purchase is Different

The Reverse Mortgage for Purchase program is an age-based mortgage insured by the FHA for individuals and married couples aged 62 and older. Unlike a traditional mortgage, monthly payments are deferred and the loan balance increases over time. Because the loan is backed by the FHA, neither the borrower(s) nor their heirs are personally liable for the debt.

So what does all that really mean?

It’s actually very simple…let’s say you use a reverse mortgage to purchase your dream home and decide to move in 10 years. When you sell your home you will receive 100% of the net proceeds after paying off the loan balance at the time of the sale. This is exactly how a traditional mortgage works.

The primary benefit of using a reverse mortgage for purchase comes into play during your living years in the fact that you are not paying a monthly payment to the mortgage company, thereby increasing your monthly cash flow.  The secondary benefit is for your heirs. What if at the time of your passing your loan balance is greater than the value of your home — what happens?

In a traditional mortgage scenario your heirs would be forced to sell the home at a loss and cover the difference. The terms of a HECM program mandates that neither you nor your heirs are personally liable to cover the difference if your home is sold for a loss. Simply put, it’s not your problem and no one is coming after your estate for a settlement.

Click here for more specific details on how the Reverse Mortgage for Purchase program works.

Janice Cohen is a HECM Reverse Mortgage Specialist serving the North Hollywood, Sunland, Tujunga, Burbank, Glendale, La Crescenta, Montrose and many more areas of southern California.  Click here to contact Janice and learn if reverse mortgage is right for you.

Will A Reverse Mortgage Affect Social Security, Medicare & Pension?

Reverse Mortgage for Purchase Loveland Fort Collins Greeley Longmont Westminster Colorado Cheyenne Laramie WyomingA very common concern among seniors and adult children when considering a reverse mortgage is how it will affect social security, medicare, and even certain pensions.  For many seniors, these benefits are a large part of their income. Fortunately, because the funds from a reverse mortgage are NOT considered taxable income, a borrower’s benefits will not be affected when taking out a reverse mortgage.

On the other hand, borrowers who have Medicaid, TANF, Food Stamps or SSI may see those benefits affected by this additional income.   Because these programs are government sponsored programs with strict approval guidelines based on all sources of income, even non-taxable income, there is a possibility the additional cash flow will need reported.  Other supplemental and assistance programs would need to be addressed on a case by case basis.  Working with a reputable reverse mortgage lender and required third party counseling will ensure all your questions are answered thoroughly and honestly.

Reverse mortgages are available to homeowners 62 and older.  The proceeds can be received as a lump sum, as monthly installments, or a reverse line of credit and can be used for any purpose the borrower sees fit.  This FHA insured loan allows the borrower(s) to live mortgage payment free.

Janice Cohen is a HECM Reverse Mortgage Specialist serving the North Hollywood, Sunland, Tujunga, Burbank, Glendale, La Crescenta, Montrose and many more areas of southern California.  Click here to contact Janice and learn if reverse mortgage is right for you.

How Rising Interest Rates Affect Reverse Mortgages

Northridge, Reseda, Encino, Granada Hills, Sylmar, San Fernando, Sun Valley Reverse Mortgage HECM Janice Cohen CaliforniaInterest rates have been at historic lows for years.  This has afforded thousands of Americans to the ability to secure home loans for their dream house.  It’s also worked in favor for those who have made the decision to tap in their home equity using a reverse mortgage.  But interest rates affect a conventional loan differently than a reverse mortgage.

HECM reverse mortgage are insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), and are available to homeowners 62 and over.  These tax-free loans convert a portion of home equity into cash without incurring a loan payment.  Borrowers can access the funds via monthly installments, line of credit, a lump sum, and even to purchase a home. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which regulates the reverse mortgage industry, sets a “floor” rate of about 5%.  As interest rates rise and fall above this floor rate, borrowers will receive less or more in proceeds.  In fact, even a small rise of 1% above the floor rate can decrease available funds by as much as 20%.

Fortunately, once a homeowner has tapped into a reverse mortgage they lock in the interest rate and proceeds will never decrease, no matter what the market does, and the funds available will increase over time when using the line of credit option.  In addition, even if the home decreases in value below the amount of their loan proceeds, they will never be responsible for more than the home is worth.

Bottom line: with interest rates on the rise, now is the time to act if you’re considering a reverse mortgage.

Janice Cohen is a HECM Reverse Mortgage Specialist serving the North Hollywood, Sunland, Tujunga, Burbank, Glendale, La Crescenta, Montrose and many more areas of southern California.  Click here to contact Janice and learn if reverse mortgage is right for you.

Everything You Need To Know About The Reverse Mortgage Appraisal

Northridge, Reseda, Encino, Granada Hills, Sylmar, San Fernando, Sun Valley Reverse Mortgage HECM Janice Cohen CaliforniaGetting assessments on just about anything can seem laborious or tedious, who wants to have something close to them looked at with a magnifying glass? But appraisals for reverse mortgage loans are not only very helpful for everyone involved, they’re required by the lender.  Part of what determines the amount of funding available from a reverse mortgage is the appraised value of the home.  Luckily the process is very simple.

First, after talking with a reputable reverse mortgage specialist, you will submit your application. The specialist or lender will be the one to contact an appraiser who will in turn contact you to set up a time for them to look at your home.

The procedure is standard and involves three steps, the inspection, the research, and the report.

Inspection:

The appraiser will walk through your home with you, he or she might take photographs. It will document features that add value to your home. If the appraiser takes a picture of something in need of repair it lets you know that it matters and gives you a chance to fix it.

Research:

Once the walk through is done, the appraiser’s work continues as they research factors that influence the value they place on your home. Home sales in your area are one area of research. Others include multiple listing services, tax assessor’s records and public records come into play. Anything that will help to give the present value will be taken into account.

The Official Report:

This is the synthesis of the appraiser’s home visit and all the research. The report is used with your loan request. If photographs were taken, they will be included as well.

The appraiser gives this report to the lender who will give you a copy and an updated reverse mortgage figures taking into account the new information.

There are simple things you can do before the appraiser gets to your home to help your loan request. 

Reverse mortgage is an individualized, specialized loan for those 62 and older that allows seniors to tap into the equity of their home while living mortgage and loan payment free.  The funds can be accessed via a lump sum, line of credit, monthly installments, or even to purchase a home. If you are planning ahead let your specialist guide you in the many scenarios that are possible and the two of you can think creatively about your needs and desires.

Janice Cohen is a HECM Reverse Mortgage Specialist serving the Northridge, Reseda, Encino, Granada Hills, Sylmar, San Fernando, Sun Valley and many more areas of southern California.  Click here to contact Janice and learn if reverse mortgage is right for you.

Reverse Mortgage FAQ – Part 2

Agoura Hills, Oak Park, Calabasas, Chatsworth, Canoga Park, Woodland Hills Reverse Mortgage HECM Janice CohenThis is the second in a three part series of frequently asked questions about Reverse Mortgage.

Can I get a Reverse Mortgage even if I have an existing mortgage?

You may qualify for a reverse mortgage even if you still owe money on an existing mortgage. The existing loan will be paid off first with the reverse mortgage funds, then the remainder of the funds will be given to you.  This scenario would apply as long as the amount of the reverse mortgage is larger than the existing loan.  For example: if you owe $100,000 on an existing mortgage and you qualify for $125,000 under the reverse mortgage program, under these circumstances you would still have $25,000 left over to do with as you wish AND you would no longer have a mortgage payment.

Another scenario would be one where the mortgage on your house is more than what you qualified for under the reverse mortgage program.  In this situation you would have the option to make up the difference with your own funds between the amount of reverse mortgage you qualified for and the existing loan.  This would allow you to no longer have the burden of a monthly mortgage payment.  Working with a reputable reverse mortgage lender will ensure the most accurate information regarding how an existing mortgage would affect a reverse mortgage and what will be right for you.

What is Reverse Mortgage Counseling? 

Prior to being approved for a reverse mortgage, HUD’s Federal Housing Administration (FHA) requires each borrower to participate in a counseling session with an approved agency. These not-for-profit agencies are funded by the federal government and work closely with both the FHA and lenders to ensure a smooth process.  The goal of this session is not to steer a potential borrower in one direction or another, but to make sure they clearly understand all aspects of a reverse mortgage.  Read more about what to expect during reverse mortgage counseling here.

Why not get a home equity loan instead of a reverse mortgage?

Reverse mortgages do not need to be repaid as long as you remain in your home. This allows for a lot of flexibility if you are on a tight or limited budget, or would like to use your funds from a reverse mortgage for specific purposes.

On the other hand, attaining a home equity loan (or a second mortgage) requires you have sufficient income to cover the debt—plus, you must continue to make monthly payments on both any existing mortgage and the new home equity loan. With a reverse mortgage, you do not make monthly mortgage payments and the federally insured loan protects you from foreclosure.

Do I have to pay taxes on the cash payments I receive?

The cash you receive from a reverse mortgage is not considered income, therefore not subject to individual income taxation. But, since you hold the title to your home, you are still responsible for property taxes, insurance, utilities, fuel, maintenance, and other home-related expenses. Interest on reverse mortgages is not deductible on income tax returns until the loan is paid off in part or whole.

Who is a Reverse Mortgage not right for?

Reverse mortgages are not right for everyone, which makes it even more important that you work with a reputable lender.  A reverse mortgage may not be in your best interest if you intend to leave your home within 2-3 years, if you own multiple homes or investment property, or if you intend to leave your spouse off the loan.  Even if you fall into any of these categories, discuss your situation with a lender before eliminating reverse mortgage as an option.

Janice Cohen is a HECM Reverse Mortgage Specialist serving the North Hollywood, Sunland, Tujunga, Burbank, Glendale, La Crescenta, Montrose and many more areas of southern California.  Click here to contact Janice and learn if reverse mortgage is right for you.

Reverse Mortgage FAQ Part 1

This is the first in a three part series of frequently asked questions about Reverse Mortgage.

Are There Any Special Requirements to Get a Reverse Mortgage?

In order to qualify for a reverse mortgage, you must own your home, be at least 62 years old, have some equity in your home, and meet the income and credit requirements.

How Much Money Can I Get?

In general, the older you are (or the youngest borrower in the case of married couples) and the more valuable your home, the more money you can get.  Other factors also come into play, such as: the appraised home value, interest rates, and the amount of equity in your home.

Does My Home Qualify?

Eligible properties include single-family homes, 2-4 unit properties, modular homes, condominiums, and townhouses.  This home must also be your primary residence.

What are My Options to Receive the Funds?

Funds from a reverse mortgage can be received all at once as a lump sum, as fixed monthly payments for a set term or for as long as you live in the home, as a line of credit which allows you to draw on the loan proceeds at any time, wrapped into the purchase of a home, or a combination of all these.

How Can I Use the Proceeds from a Reverse Mortgage?

Their are no restrictions as to how the proceeds from a reverse mortgage can be used.  Whether it is to supplement or protect retirement income, to cover your living expenses, to repair/modify your home, to pay for medical expenses, pay off existing debts, or simply do something nice for yourself or others, no one can tell you how you must spend your money.

Janice Cohen is a HECM Reverse Mortgage Specialist serving the Northridge, Reseda, Encino, Granada Hills, Sylmar, San Fernando, Sun Valley and many more areas of southern California.  Click here to contact Janice and learn if reverse mortgage is right for you.

What is Required Reverse Mortgage Counseling?

Prior to being approved for a reverse mortgage, HUD’s Federal Housing Administration (FHA) requires each borrow to participate in a counseling session with an approved agency. These not-for-profit agencies are funded by the federal government and work closely with both the FHA and lenders to ensure a smooth process.

The goal of this session is not to steer a potential borrower in one direction or another, but to make sure they clearly understand all aspects of a reverse mortgage.

Here is what you can expect at your counseling session:

The potential borrower will need to schedule an appointment directly with a counseling agency. The lender does not initiate or take part in the session, but can provide you with resources to seek out a counselor. The session will take place in person or over the phone – although the FHA recommends a face-to-face meeting whenever possible.

Prior to your appointment, the counseling agency will provide you with a packet of information to allow you to prepare for the session. During the session the counselor will discuss your immediate and long-term financial needs, your reasons for seeking out a reverse mortgage, address any questions or concerns you may have, and clearly educate you on the process as well as the pros and cons of a reverse mortgage. Again, they are not there to “sell” you on the product, but to educate instead.

Once you have completed the counseling session, you will be provided with a “Certificate of Completion”. This certificate verifies to your lender that you have completed the counseling session and that you understand the essentials of a reverse mortgage. Your counselor will also follow up with you to ensure you have no further needs, questions, or concerns.

Janice Cohen is a HECM Reverse Mortgage Specialist serving the Northridge, Reseda, Encino, Granada Hills, Sylmar, San Fernando, Sun Valley and many more areas of southern California.  Click here to contact Janice and learn if reverse mortgage is right for you.