Can I Use a Reverse Mortgage to Pay for Assisted Living?

If you fully own or almost own the home you live in, you may be considering getting a reverse mortgage. There are certainly financial benefits to reverse mortgages, especially for seniors who have paid off their home. Many seniors are now considering using a reverse mortgage to pay for in-home assisted living services. But is this the right choice for you? Here we will look at what to consider if you are thinking of getting a reverse mortgage to pay for assisted living.

A reverse mortgage is a financial agreement in which the homeowner agrees to give up equity in their home in exchange for payment. This loan is based on the home’s equity. Generally, the older you are when you take out a reverse mortgage, the more you will receive in payment. Usually, a reverse mortgage is a good idea for those who have reached a certain age and have paid off their house. Once a reverse mortgage borrower dies, the lender is repaid by taking title to the property. They will return any excess equity to the heirs of the former borrowers.

A reverse mortgage will provide payment in the form of cash or through equity lines of credit. Borrowers often choose to receive payment through credit as opposed to cash because equity credit lines increase over time. These payments can be used for many purposes, but a common purpose for older borrowers is for in-home assisted living. Reverse mortgages typically stop paying out once the borrower stops living in the home regularly.

The lending guidelines for reverse mortgages are pretty straightforward. Most of the time, lenders do not check applicants’ credit histories in order to approve them for a reverse mortgage. In order to qualify for a reverse mortgage, borrowers must be at least 62 years old. They must also own a home that has significant equity built up. Many lenders prefer the home to be fully paid off, but some will accept an applicant whose home is mostly paid off. The homes lenders will consider for a reverse mortgage are typically single family homes or 2-4 unit homes where the owner has residency in one of the units.

While a majority of reverse mortgages are through the Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) program, your home does not have to have an FHA mortgage to qualify for a reverse mortgage. It is also important to note that as long as one borrower on the loan still resides in the home the mortgage remains in effect. This means that even if one spouse in a couple with a reverse mortgage must leave the home to live in an assisted living facility full-time, the spouse remaining in the home will still be covered with the reverse mortgage.

This is a financial situation you should enter into with some caution. If you are approved for a reverse mortgage, you still need to make sure you are staying current with any property taxes. Frequently, seniors will live off of their reverse mortgage payments while failing to pay for taxes. This can cause your home to be foreclosed on, which would allow the lender to take the home. For this reason, it is a great idea to receive the advice of a real estate attorney or go through financial counseling before you apply for a reverse mortgage.

Veitengruber Law is experienced in handling even the most complex issues of real estate law. If you are considering a reverse mortgage, we can help you with the details. Our attorney, George Veitengruber, can answer all your questions and provide you with custom solutions for your real estate goals.

 

Reverse Mortgage Foreclosures: Can They Be Stopped?

nj reverse mortgage

What are reverse mortgages?

Reverse mortgages allow homeowners ages 62 and up to borrow against the equity of their primary residence to receive a loan in the form of either a revenue stream or a lump sum of money from their lender. In order to be eligible for a reverse mortgage, homeowners must first meet a few basic requirements.

The homeowner(s) have to be at least 62 years old and either own their home outright or have a very strong equity built up and owe very little on their mortgage. They must also occupy their home as their primary residence and hold the title to their home. While they typically get a bad rap, reverse mortgages oftentimes provide senior citizens with a valuable and much-needed source of funding to assist with a wide variety of needs that can occur with aging.

Some common reasons seniors seek reverse mortgages are to:

  • Finance a child’s college education
  • Pay for necessary medical expenses and bills
  • Fund home repairs and remodels
  • Supplement social security income to maintain an adequate standard of living throughout retirement.

It is worth noting that while the homeowner gets to remain living in their home and keep the title to the home as collateral, they are still required to pay all necessary taxes, property maintenance and repair costs, homeowner’s insurance payments, and interest and fees on their loan.

What happens if circumstances change?

While reverse mortgages can be a feasible and even financially sound option for certain people, there are some potential pitfalls to take into consideration before ever opting for a reverse mortgage in the first place. It is important to understand the specifics of what you are undertaking as a homeowner. For instance, a reverse mortgage is immediately owed back to the lender upon the occurrence of any of the following circumstances:

  • The borrower(s) decide to transfer the title or sell the home and succeed in doing so.
  • The borrower(s) reside elsewhere for over a year, thereby relinquishing the primary residence status of the home in the eyes of the lender.
  • The borrower(s) fail to meet the terms and conditions of the mortgage; for instance falling delinquent in homeowner’s dues or property taxes, or allowing the condition of the property to substantially deteriorate.
  • The borrower(s) pass away.

If in the near future you are considering moving, living away from your home for more than a year, or if you currently have a terminal illness, you may want to look into alternatives to a reverse mortgage so that you do not leave your loved ones in a bad financial situation upon your departure.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Once the reverse mortgage becomes due for any of the aforementioned reasons, the homeowner(s) (or their heirs) are legally liable to pay back the lender in full, including any applicable taxes and fees.

Can a reverse mortgage foreclosure really be stopped?

If you find yourself or your loved ones on the verge of a reverse mortgage foreclosure, you are not entirely without viable options. Contact a NJ real estate lawyer or foreclosure defense attorney who can help determine if you are eligible for a reputable loan modification on the reverse mortgage. There is also the option of selling the property yourself or allowing a relative or friend to pay off the remaining balance owed on your reverse mortgage.

A real estate attorney with experience in NJ reverse mortgage foreclosures will be best equipped to help answer any questions you may have and help you weigh the pros and cons of all your options. They will walk you through every step of the decision-making process with the end goal of ultimately helping you avoid a reverse mortgage foreclosure.