Three Things to Know about Reverse Mortgages

Aug 10, 2015

MoneyLife100 MoneyLife100 One retirement planning resource that has gained interest in recent years is the reverse mortgage.  A reverse mortgage allows you to convert part of the equity in your home into cash. If you’re 62 or older and want money to pay for expenses, a reverse mortgage is an option. However, if you consider this route, experts from the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants suggests that you ask your financial planner to review all the factors related to this option to help you decide if a reverse mortgage is right for you.

1. What is a reverse mortgage?

A reverse mortgage is a type of home loan that allows you to convert a portion of your home’s equity into cash. Reverse mortgages convert the equity in your home into payments to you – a kind of advance payments on your home. The money you get usually is tax-free. Generally, you don’t have to pay it back for as long as you live in your home. However, you or your estate must repay the loan when you move or when you die.

2. What kinds of reverse mortgages are there?

There are three types of reverse mortgages: single-purpose reverse mortgages, proprietary reverse mortgages, and home equity conversion mortgages.

  • Single-purpose reverse mortgages are the least expensive option, and most homeowners with low or moderate income can qualify. The loan can only be used for one purpose, which is specified by the lender (such as home repairs). They’re offered by some state and local government agencies, as well as nonprofit organizations, but they’re not available everywhere. Check with your financial advisor to see what’s available in your state.
  • Proprietary reverse mortgages, also known as private company reverse mortgages, are backed by the companies that develop them, are not federally insured, and are typically designed for borrowers with higher home values. If you own a higher-valued home, you may get a bigger loan advance and qualify for more funds with this type of loan.
  • Home Equity Conversion Mortgages are federally insured and can be used for any purpose, from supplementing retirement income, to covering daily living expenses, to preventing foreclosure on your home. These loans tend to be the most popular, and are backed by the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

3. Is a reverse mortgage right for me?

There are pros and cons to reverse mortgages, and only you can determine if it’s the right decision. Because there isn’t an income requirement on reverse mortgages, you will likely pay higher fees and interest rates with these loans. These loans can also make it difficult to leave your home to an heir. The loan must be repaid once you die, and oftentimes that means selling the home or your heir will have to use any inheritance to pay off the loan. In many cases, a reverse mortgage isn’t worth it because of these drawbacks, but that’s not always the case.

If you need cash for your retirement expenses, then you might want to explore a reverse mortgage. They can help ease the strain on your finances, especially if a large portion of your assets is locked into your home. Ultimately, you need to weigh the pros and cons for your situation, and consult with a professional to make the best decision for you.

Turn to Your CPA

Your local CPA can offer advice on your options and help you create a plan that will maximize your money and safeguard your assets. Be sure to contact him or her with all your financial questions. To find a local CPA or learn more about retirement planning visit

The Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA) is a premiere statewide association of more than 22,000 members working in public accounting, industry, government, and education. Founded in 1897, the PICPA is the second-oldest state CPA organization in the United States.

Money & Life Tips are a joint effort of the AICPA and the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA), as part of the profession’s nationwide 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy program.