Because of today’s economic situation, rapidly rising health care costs, and falling retirement and savings account balances, many seniors are feeling financial stress. Looking for relief from their monetary woes, over 600,000 seniors have taken advantage of the FHA’s Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM), better known as a reverse mortgage.

A reverse mortgage is a special type of home loan based on age, equity, interest rates, and the value of your Mobile Eastern Shore home, a reverse mortgage allows you to not only forego paying monthly mortgage rates but also to receive money (as long as at least one borrower lives in the home) on a continuous monthly basis, for a fixed period of time, or in unscheduled installments as needed.

To qualify for a HECM, the FHA requires that you own your home outright or have a low mortgage balance that can be paid from the loan’s proceeds, be at least 62 or 5476714_blogolder, and that you continue to reside in your Mobile Eastern Shore home. Single family homes and 1-4 unit homes with one unit occupied by the borrower are eligible. The same holds true for HUD approved condos and manufactured homes that meet FHA standards.

A reverse mortgage differs from a home equity loan in that you do not make monthly payments, and it is available to you regardless of your income. The amount of the HECM is based on your age, the current interest rate, and the appraised value of your Mobile Eastern Shore home.

When you or the last surviving homeowner moves from the house or passes away, you or your estate has approximately 12 months to repay the loan amount, with fees and interest, to the lender. Any remaining equity after a sale will belong to you or your heirs. If the proceeds of the sale are not enough to cover the loan, the lender, not you or your heirs, must take the loss.

There are four ways to receive your money:

  • Lump sum–all the cash at closing
  • Tenure–equal monthly payments as long as the house is the principal residence.
  • Term–equal monthly payments for a fixed number of years.
  • Line of credit–funds available to draw on at any time.

Note: the borrower can “mix and match” any of the above plans and can use the money for any purpose.

As with all government programs, you need to give careful consideration to all of your options. In fact, potential HECM borrowers are required to receive some type of consumer pre-counseling about the program. You can find an HECM counselor online at or by calling 1-800-569-4287. You can also contact the National Council on Aging at 1-800-510-030 or online at. BEWARE of reverse mortgage companies who charge a fee to refer you to a lender! It is best to work only with lenders who are members of the Better Business Bureau and the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders, organizations which adhere to a strict code of ethics and standards.

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