What Are The 3 Types Of Reverse Mortgages

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3 types of reverse mortgage

Reverse mortgages can be a valuable financial tool for homeowners aged 62 and older. They allow you to convert part of your home’s equity into cash without having to sell your home or pay additional monthly mortgage payments. Understanding the different types of reverse mortgages can help you make informed decisions about which option might be best for your situation. This blog post will explain what are the 3 types of reverse mortgages available.

1. Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECMs)

Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECMs) are the most common type of reverse mortgage and are insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). Here’s what you need to know:


  • Age Requirement: Homeowners must be at least 62 years old.
  • Home Ownership: Must own the property outright or have a low mortgage balance that can be paid off with proceeds from the reverse mortgage.
  • Primary Residence: The home must be the borrower’s primary residence.
  • Counseling Session: Borrowers are required to attend a reverse mortgage counseling session with a HUD-approved counselor to ensure they understand the loan terms and obligations.


Funds from a home equity conversion mortgage can be used for virtually any purpose, providing flexibility to the borrower. Common uses include:

  • Supplementing Retirement Income: Many retirees use HECMs to enhance their monthly cash advances.
  • Covering Medical Expenses: Funds can be used to pay for healthcare costs, including long-term care.
  • Home Improvements: Borrowers can use the money to make necessary repairs or modifications to their homes.
  • Paying Off Debt: Proceeds can be used to eliminate existing debts, reducing financial stress.
Pros and Cons
  • Pros:
    • Government-Insured: As they are insured by the FHA, borrowers have added protection with federally insured reverse mortgages.
    • Flexible Disbursement Options: Borrowers can choose how they receive their funds—either as a lump sum payment, monthly payments, a line of credit, or a combination of these.
    • Non-Recourse Loan: Borrowers (or their heirs) will never owe more than the home’s value when the loan is repaid.
  • Cons:
    • Higher Upfront Costs: HECMs typically have higher upfront costs due to mortgage insurance premiums.
    • Loan Balance Increases Over Time: As with all reverse mortgages, the loan balance increases over time as interest and fees accumulate.
    • Impact on Inheritance: The equity in your home will decrease over time, potentially reducing the amount left to heirs.


HECM reverse mortgage loans are particularly useful in several scenarios:

  • Retirees with Limited Income: Those who need to supplement their Social Security or pension income.
  • Homeowners with Significant Equity: Those who have substantial equity in their homes and want to convert it to cash.
  • Individuals Needing Long-Term Care: Those who wish to fund their healthcare needs while staying in their home.
  • People Facing High-Interest Debt: Borrowers who want to pay off high-interest debts to improve their financial situation.

2. Proprietary Reverse Mortgages

Proprietary reverse mortgages are private loans backed by the companies that develop them. They are not insured by the federal government, but they offer unique benefits that can be appealing to certain homeowners.


  • Age Requirement: Typically available to homeowners aged 62 and older, similar to HECMs.
  • Home Value: Often targeted at homeowners with high-value properties who need larger loan amounts than what HECMs can provide.


Funds from proprietary reverse mortgage loans can be used for any purpose, just like HECMs. This includes:

  • Supplementing Retirement Income: Especially for those with high-value homes who need more substantial funds.
  • Covering Medical Expenses: For extensive healthcare needs, proprietary loans can provide higher payouts.
  • Home Improvements: Larger loans can fund significant home renovation projects.
  • Paying Off Debt: Eliminate or reduce existing debts with the proceeds.

Pros and Cons

  • Pros:
    • Higher Loan Limits: Ideal for high-value properties, as they offer higher loan amounts compared to HECMs.
    • No Mortgage Insurance Premiums: Lower upfront costs since there’s no government insurance.
    • Flexible Usage: Funds can be used for any purpose, offering significant flexibility.
  • Cons:
    • Not Government-Insured: Lack of federal insurance means potentially higher risks.
    • Higher Interest Rates: May come with higher interest rates compared to HECMs.
    • Limited Availability: Not as widely available as HECMs.


Proprietary reverse mortgages are particularly suitable for:

  • Owners of High-Value Homes: Those whose home values exceed the FHA lending limits.
  • Individuals Needing Large Sums of Money: Ideal for those who need larger payouts for major expenses.
  • Borrowers Seeking Lower Upfront Costs: Beneficial for those looking to avoid the upfront costs associated with government insurance premiums.

3. Single-Purpose Reverse Mortgages

Single-purpose reverse mortgages are offered by some state and local government agencies and non-profit organizations. These loans are designed to help low-to-moderate-income homeowners meet specific financial needs.


  • Income Requirement: Generally targeted at homeowners with low to moderate income.
  • Age Requirement: Homeowners must be at least 62 years old.
  • Specific Purpose: Borrowers must use the loan for a lender-approved purpose.


Unlike HECMs and proprietary reverse mortgages, single-purpose reverse mortgage loans have restrictions on how the funds can be used:

  • Home Repairs: Funds can be used for necessary home repairs and improvements.
  • Property Taxes: Can help cover property taxes to prevent foreclosure.
  • Specific Expenses: Other specific expenses as determined by the lender.

Pros and Cons

  • Pros:
    • Lower Costs: Typically the least expensive option among reverse mortgages due to lower fees and interest rates.
    • Focused Support: Designed to help with specific, essential expenses, providing targeted financial assistance.
  • Cons:
    • Restricted Usage: Funds can only be used for the specified purpose approved by the lender.
    • Limited Availability: Not available everywhere and may have stricter eligibility requirements.
    • Smaller Loan Amounts: Typically offer smaller loan amounts compared to HECMs and proprietary reverse mortgages.


Single-purpose reverse mortgages are particularly beneficial for:

  • Low-to-Moderate-Income Homeowners: Those who need financial assistance for specific purposes but have limited income.
  • Essential Home Repairs: Homeowners needing funds for necessary home repairs or improvements to maintain the property.
  • Property Tax Payments: Those who need help covering property taxes to avoid foreclosure.

What to Be Careful About When Using a Reverse Mortgage

Reverse mortgages, while beneficial for many, come with certain risks and considerations that you should be aware of before deciding to proceed. Here are some key points to be careful about when using a reverse mortgage:

1. Increasing Loan Balance

  • Compounding Interest: The reverse mortgage loan balance increases over time as interest and fees accumulate. Unlike traditional mortgages, you don’t make monthly mortgage payments to reduce the balance, so it grows. This can lead to a significant reduction in the equity of your home over time.
  • Impact on Home Equity: As the loan balance increases, your home equity decreases, which can affect your financial security and the inheritance left to your heirs. It’s important to consider how this might impact your overall estate planning.

2. Higher Upfront Costs

  • Closing Costs and Fees: Reverse mortgages often come with high closing costs, origination fees, and mortgage insurance premiums, especially with Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECMs). These costs can add up quickly, making it crucial to understand all fees involved.
  • Ongoing Costs: You are still responsible for paying property taxes, homeowners insurance, and home maintenance costs. Failing to keep up with these can result in foreclosure.

3. Loan Repayment Triggers

  • Primary Residence Requirement: The loan must be repaid if you sell your home, move out permanently, or pass away. If the property is no longer your primary residence, it can trigger repayment.
  • Living Elsewhere: If you need to move to a nursing home or assisted living facility for more than 12 consecutive months, the loan becomes due.

4. Impact on Benefits and Eligibility

  • Government Benefits: Receiving large lump sums from a reverse mortgage can affect your eligibility for need-based government programs like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
  • Careful Financial Planning: It’s crucial to plan how you will use the proceeds to avoid negatively impacting your financial situation or benefit eligibility.

5. Potential for Foreclosure

  • Property Obligations: You must meet the loan obligations, such as paying property taxes and homeowners insurance, and maintaining the home. Failure to do so can result in foreclosure.
  • Counseling Requirement: Before proceeding with a home equity conversion mortgage (HECM), you must attend a reverse mortgage counseling session to understand the implications and your responsibilities.

6. Limited Availability of Funds

  • Draw Limits: Some reverse mortgage types, like single-purpose reverse mortgages, restrict how you can use the funds, which may limit your flexibility.
  • Loan Limits: Proprietary reverse mortgages can offer higher loan amounts but may come with higher interest rates and fees.

7. Variable Interest Rates

  • Interest Rate Changes: Many reverse mortgages come with variable interest rates, which can increase over time, further raising the loan balance.

8. Non-Recourse Feature

  • Non-Recourse Loan: While you (or your heirs) will never owe more than the home’s value when the loan is repaid, this means the lender will only recover the loan amount from the sale of the home, which could affect your estate planning.

9. Future Financial Planning

  • Longevity Risk: Consider how long you plan to stay in your home and your long-term financial needs. Using up home equity now may limit your options later in life.

Understanding these risks and carefully evaluating your financial situation with the help of a financial advisor or reverse mortgage lender can help you make an informed decision about whether a reverse mortgage is right for you. Always ensure that you are clear on the reverse mortgage terms, and consider how this financial tool fits into your overall retirement income strategy and long-term goals.

Each type of reverse mortgage has its own set of features, benefits, and drawbacks. Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECMs) are versatile and widely available, while proprietary reverse mortgages offer higher loan amounts for high-value homes. Single-purpose reverse mortgages are the most affordable option but come with usage restrictions. It’s important to carefully consider your financial situation and goals when choosing a reverse mortgage. Consulting with a reverse mortgage lender or financial advisor can provide personalized advice to help you make the best decision.


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