So what exactly is a reverse mortgage?
In a nutshell, it’s a specific type of home equity loan available only to people aged 62 and over, which has the added benefit of not carrying any interest payments and is only due upon death or once the homeowner is no longer using it as a primary residence. As you can see, this might be viewed as an attractive cash flow option for older Americans who didn’t save for retirement. That could be a lot of people, considering that Fidelity estimates 48% of baby boomers have not put away enough to retire.
While I have covered the various ways in which Americans are scraping by in the current feudal economy, from food stamps and disability fraud, to student loans and living in mom and pop’s basement, this reverse mortgage thing is a piece of the puzzle I have been missing.
These mortgages are not insignificant either. According to Inside Mortgage Finance, originations were up 20% in 2013, hitting $15.3 billion. So when you see that older guy working the cashier at Wal-Mart and wonder to yourself how he is surviving, the answer may increasingly be a reverse mortgage.
Oh, and since the FHA is originating many of these loans, you the taxpayer will be on the hook!
Let’s start out with some excerpts from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s post: Frequently Asked Questions about HUD’s Reverse Mortgages.
The Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) is FHA’s reverse mortgage program, which enables you to withdraw some of the equity in your home. The HECM is a safe plan that can give older Americans greater financial security. Many seniors use it to supplement Social Security, meet unexpected medical expenses, make home improvements and more.
1. What is a reverse mortgage?
A reverse mortgage is a special type of home loan that lets you convert a portion of the equity in your home into cash. The equity that you built up over years of making mortgage payments can be paid to you. However, unlike a traditional home equity loan or second mortgage, HECM borrowers do not have to repay the HECM loan until the borrowers no longer use the home as their principal residence or fail to meet the obligations of the mortgage. You can also use a HECM to purchase a primary residence if you are able to use cash on hand to pay the difference between the HECM proceeds and the sales price plus closing costs for the property you are purchasing.
5. What are the differences between a reverse mortgage and a home equity loan?
With a second mortgage, or a home equity line of credit, borrowers must make monthly payments on the principal and interest. A reverse mortgage is different, because it pays you – there are no monthly principal and interest payments. With a reverse mortgage, you are required to pay real estate taxes, utilities, and hazard and flood insurance premiums.
See there really is a magic money tree. Thanks FHA!
6. Will we have an estate that we can leave to heirs?
When the home is sold or no longer used as a primary residence, the cash, interest, and other HECM finance charges must be repaid. All proceeds beyond the amount owed belong to your spouse or estate. This means any remaining equity can be transferred to heirs. No debt is passed along to the estate or heirs.
Moving along, we learn from the New York Post that:
Cash-strapped baby boomers, taking the TV advice of the Fonz and former US Sen. Fred Thompson, have opted for reverse mortgages in increasing numbers.
Inside Mortgage Finance, a trade publication covering the housing industry, said borrowers took out some $15.3 billion of these loans last year, an increase of 20 percent over 2012.
Reverse mortgages, which let homeowners age 62 and up borrow money against the value of their homes, have become a popular way for boomers without significant assets to fund retirement.
Is this something you’d expect to see five years into a genuine economic recovery, or it is a reaction to a ponzi consumption based economy plagued with zero income growth?
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