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About Reverse Mortgages for Seniors - - Section 255 - Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECM)

About the HECM Program:

The HECM FHA insured reverse mortgage can be used by senior homeowners age 62 and older to convert the equity in their home into monthly streams of income and/or a line of credit to be repaid when they no longer occupy the home. The loan, commonly known as HECM, is funded by a lending institution such as a mortgage lender, bank, credit union or savings and loan association.

Borrower Requirements:

  • Age 62 years of age or older
  • Own your property
  • Occupy your property as primary residence
  • Participation in a consumer information session given by an approved HECM counselor

Mortgage Amount Based On:

  • Age of the youngest borrower
  • Current interest rate
  • Lesser of appraised value or the FHA insurance limit

Financial Requirements:

  • No income or credit qualifications are required of the borrower
  • No repayment as long as the property is the primary residence
  • Closing costs may be financed in the mortgage

Property Requirements:

  • 1 family home or 1-4 unit home with one unit occupied by the borrower
  • Condominiums or Planned Unit Developments (PUD) must be HUD-FHA approved
  • Mobile Homes that meet HUD guidelines
  • Meets minimum property standards (borrower may fund repairs in the mortgage)

How the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage Program Works:

Homeowners 62 and older who have paid off their mortgages or have only small mortgage balances remaining, and are currently living in the home are eligible to participate in HUD's reverse mortgage program. The program allows homeowners to borrow against the equity in their homes. Homeowners can select from five payment plans:

  • Tenure - equal monthly payments as long as at least one borrower lives and continues to occupy the property as a principal residence.
  • Term - equal monthly payments for a fixed period of months selected.
  • Line of Credit - unscheduled payments or in installments, at times and in amount of borrower's choosing until the line of credit is exhausted.
  • Modified Tenure - combination of line of credit with monthly payments for as long as the borrower remains in the home.
  • Modified Term - combination of line of credit with monthly payments for a fixed period of months selected by the borrower.

Homeowners whose circumstances change can restructure their payment options for a nominal fee of $20.

Unlike ordinary home equity loans, a HUD reverse mortgage does not require repayment as long as the home is the borrower's principal residence. Lenders recover their principal, plus interest, when the home is sold. The remaining value of the home goes to the homeowner or to his or her survivors. You can never owe more than your home's value. If the sales proceeds are insufficient to pay the amount owed, HUD will pay the lender the amount of the shortfall. HUD's Federal Housing Administration (FHA) collects an insurance premium from all borrowers to provide this coverage.

The amount a homeowner can borrow depends on their age, the current interest rate, other loan fees and the appraised value of their home or FHA 's mortgage limits for their area, whichever is less. Generally, the more valuable your home is, the older you are, the lower the interest, the more you can borrow.

For example, based on a loan with an interest rates of approximately 9 percent, and a home qualifying for $100,000, a 65-year-old could borrow up to 22 percent of the home's value; a 75-year-old could borrow up to 41 percent of the home's value; and, an 85-year-old could borrow up to 58 percent of the home's value. The percentages do not include closing costs because these charges can vary.

There are no asset or income limitations on borrowers receiving HUD's reverse mortgages.

There are also no limits on the value of homes qualifying for a HUD reverse mortgage. The value of the home will be determined by an independent appraisal. However, the amount that may be borrowed is capped by the maximum FHA mortgage limit for the area, which varies from $172,632 to $312,895. For Alaska, Guam, Hawaii and the Virgin Islands, the FHA mortgage limits may be adjusted up to 150 percent of the ceiling depending on the area. The FHA limits usually increase each year. As a result, owners of higher-priced homes can't borrow any more than owners of homes valued at the FHA limit.

HUD's reverse mortgage program collects funds from insurance premiums charged to borrowers. Senior citizens are charged 2 percent of the home's value as an up-front payment plus a .5% annual premium, which is paid out on a monthly basis for the life of the loan. These amounts are usually paid by the lender and charged to the borrower's principal balance.

A homeowner must receive consumer education and counseling by a HUD-FHA approved HECM counselor. You can also use this handy Reverse Mortgage Calculator to help you see if you qualify.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 7th Street, S.W., Washington, DC 20410
Telephone: (202) 708-1112