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Reverse Mortgage Key Terms

Reverse Mortgage Key Terms

  • The table below summarizes the key items to focus on in evaluating a reverse mortgage.  Understanding these key terms will help you understand how a reverse mortgage works, know what questions to ask a lender and determine if a reverse mortgage is right for you.

    One of the most important inputs for a reverse mortgage is the expected property appreciation rate, or how much the value of your property is projected to increase in the future.  With a reverse mortgage, your future home owners equity changes depending on the expected property appreciation rate -- the lower the rate, the lower your equity.  The example below the table demonstrates how your future home owner equity changes based on the expected property appreciation rate.  Be sure to ask the lender what property appreciation rate they are using when they show you how your reverse mortgage and equity project in the future.

  • Reverse Mortgage Key Items
    Interest Rate
    • The interest rate that you pay on the outstanding balance of a reverse mortgage
    • There are two types of interest rate for a reverse mortgage:
      • Fixed rate: the interest rate never changes over the life of the mortgage
      • Adjustable rate: the rate is subject to change, and potentially increase over the life of the mortgage
    • The higher the interest rate, the lower the reverse mortgage amount you qualify for and the more the reverse mortgage balance increases over time
    • The lower the interest rate, the higher the reverse mortgage amount you qualify for and the less the reverse mortgage balance increases over time
    Maximum Claim Amount
    • This is the value of the property you are mortgaging up to the FHA mortgage limit in your county
    • So if the property value is $750,000 and the FHA mortgage limit in your county is $679,650, then the maximum claim amount is $679,650
    Initial Principal Limit
    • This is the size of reverse mortgage mortgage you initially qualify for based on your age, reverse mortgage type, interest rate and property value
    • The initial principal limit is calculated using an FHA formula and is typically between 50% and 60% of the property value
    • If you select a fixed rate reverse mortgage, you receive a disbursement of 60% or less of the initial principal limit when the mortgage closes and no additional proceeds
    • If you select an adjustable rate reverse mortgage, you receive a disbursement of 60% or less of the initial principal limit when the mortgage closes and after a one year waiting period you are able to receive the remainder of the proceeds up to the initial principal limit amount
    Initial Advance
    • The is the amount of money you receive up-front when the mortgage closes after paying closing costs and paying off any existing mortgages on the property
    Lien Payoffs
    • You are required to pay off any existing liens or mortgages on the property with the proceeds of the reverse mortgage
    Financed Closing Costs
    • When you get a reverse mortgage you are required to pay closing costs similar to a normal mortgage such as a lender origination fee, appraisal report fee as well as escrow and title costs
    • The lender, escrow and title costs are typically financed which means they are included in the loan amount and paid for with the initial proceeds from the reverse mortgage
    • You are typically required to pay for the cost of the appraisal report and the FHA-required reverse mortgage counseling class up-front
    Beginning Mortgage Balance
    • Your initial loan balance on your reverse mortgage when it closes
    • The beginning mortgage balance typically equals closing costs plus any existing mortgage balances on the property you pay off plus the amount of money you receive
    Initial Line of Credit
    • Depending on the type of reverse mortgage program you select and the amount of proceeds you elect to receive when the loan closes you may have access to a line a credit that allows you to draw down or pay back an amount of your choosing, up to the maximum amount of the line of credit, until the line is exhausted
    Mortgage Insurance Premium
    • The borrower is required to pay an up-front and ongoing FHA Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP)
    • The borrower does not pay for either of these fees out of pocket as the up-front MIP is included in the closing costs which are financed as part of the reverse mortgage and the ongoing annual fee is added to the mortgage balance
    • The upfront FHA MIP for a reverse mortgage is 2.0% of the maximum claim amount (the maximum claim amount is the value of the property you are mortgaging up to the FHA mortgage limit in your county). The ongoing annual FHA MIP for a reverse mortgage is 0.5% of the outstanding mortgage balance, calculated on a monthly basis
    Mortgage Payment
    • With a reverse mortgage, the borrower never makes a mortgage payment
    Monthly Servicing Fee
    • This is a monthly fee charged by the lender to process and service the reverse mortgage
    • The servicing fee is typically included in the interest rate and the borrower does not pay the fee separately
    Expected Property Appreciation Rate
    • This is the expected annual rate of property value increase used to project what your property will be worth in the future
    • Your future projected property value minus your future projected reverse mortgage balance equals your equity
      • The equity in your property is the value of your property minus the amount of any mortgages you have on the property, so it is basically the financial value of your ownership of the property
    • A higher expected appreciation means that the property value will increase more in the future
      • If the expected appreciation rate is higher than the reverse mortgage interest rate then the value of the property grows faster than the the loan balance and the borrower is building equity in the property
      • If the expected appreciation rate is lower than the reverse mortgage interest rate then the value of the property grows slower than the the loan balance and the borrower is losing equity in the property
    • Borrowers should be aware of lenders that use a high expected appreciation rate (4% or higher)
    • Borrowers should use a more conservative appreciation rate (3% or lower) or contact a real estate agent to understand the expected property appreciation rate in your area
    • The example below shows how the expected property appreciation rate impacts your projected future equity with a reverse mortgage
    Life Expectancy Set Aside
    • If the borrower does not demonstrates sufficient income to pay for property tax and homeowners insurance or has poor credit, the lender sets aside a certain portion of the reverse mortgage proceeds to pay for these expenses
    • The amount of the Life Expectancy Set Aside is based on the borrower's age and expected property tax and insurance costs. The younger the borrower and higher the costs, the higher the set aside
    • Life Expectancy Set Aside can be tens of thousands of dollars and take up a significant portion of a borrower's reverse mortgage proceeds
  • Example: How the Property Appreciation Rate Impacts Your Equity
  • The example below demonstrates how the expected appreciation rate for your property impacts the equity in your home with a reverse mortgage.  In this example, we assume that our property has an initial value of approximately $286,000 and look at how different rates of property appreciation impact our equity, or the value of the property minus the mortgage balance.  The initial reverse mortgage balance in this example is $100,000 so the owner’s equity in the property is $186,000 ($286,000 (property value) - $100,000 (mortgage balance) = $186,000 (equity)).

    The blue line in the chart shows how the principal balance for a reverse mortgage with an initial balance of $100,000 and an interest rate of 5.1% grows over time.  At the end of year 30, the principal balance for the reverse mortgage is approximately $660,000.

    The green line in the chart shows how the owner’s equity in the property changes over time using a 4.0% annual property appreciation rate.  At the end of year 30, assuming the property value increases 4.0% every year, the value of the owner’s equity in the property is approximately $270,000.

    The red line in the chart shows how the owner’s equity in the property changes over time using a lower, 2.0% annual property appreciation rate.  At the end of year 30, assuming the property value increases 2.0% every year, the value of the owner’s equity in the property is approximately negative $140,000.  Although you can never owe more on your reverse mortgage than value of your property, you can lose all of your equity which means that your ownership stake in the property is worth nothing.

    This example demonstrates the importance of the property appreciation rate in assessing what your property equity could be worth in the future with a reverse mortgage.  It should raise a red flag if a lender uses a high property appreciation rate (4% or above) to try to convince you to do a reverse mortgage.  Use a more conservative appreciate rate (3% or lower) or contact a real estate professional to discuss what property appreciation rate you should use to evaluate if a reverse mortgage is right for you.

    This example shows a reverse mortgage after 30 years but there is no set term for a reverse mortgage.  A reverse mortgage lasts as long as the owner lives in the property or until the mortgage is paid off.

    • Reverse Mortgage Balance
    • Equity @ 2.0% Property Appreciation
    • Equity @ 4.0% Property Appreciation
    $700,000 $600,000 $500,000 $400,000 $300,000 $200,000 $100,000 $0
    $100,000
    $186,200
    $268,463
    $659,797
    ($141,358)
    • Year 1
    • Year 2
    • Year 3
    • Year 4
    • Year 5
    • Year 6
    • Year 7
    • Year 8
    • Year 9
    • Year 10
    • Year 11
    • Year 12
    • Year 13
    • Year 14
    • Year 15
    • Year 16
    • Year 17
    • Year 18
    • Year 19
    • Year 20
    • Year 21
    • Year 22
    • Year 23
    • Year 24
    • Year 25
    • Year 26
    • Year 27
    • Year 28
    • Year 29
    • Year 30
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