How a Reverse Mortgage Can Help You Age in Place

A reverse mortgage is a sort of home loan where the borrower pays interest to the lender but is allowed to use their home’s equity as a source of cash. This program has emerged as a popular option for aging homeowners who want to stay in their homes while accessing equity beyond paying the basic fees and other costs.

This type of loan is appropriate especially if your choice is to age in place. The reality is that as you age, your living situation can become increasingly difficult. It’s inflexible, it doesn’t suit your lifestyle and all too often, it’s no longer affordable. Aging in place means you could stay in your home and enjoy amenities that aren’t available at a senior living facility. This became possible with reverse mortgages. 

This also allows you to have older adults to continue living in their homes for an extended period of time without financial worries. If you want to know more about reverse mortgages and why it is ideal if you want to age in place, then continue reading this article.

With home values continuing to rise, it’s clear that the days of renting are numbered. So while you may be considering the option of downsizing your current home, there are other options – like reverse mortgages – that can help you keep living in your current residence without the burden of an expensive mortgage.

Key takeaways

  • Reverse mortgages are a type of loan that allows homeowners to access equity beyond paying basic fees and other costs.
  • Aging in place means staying in your home and enjoying amenities not available at senior living facilities.
  • Reverse mortgages make it possible for you to stay in your home for an extended period of time without financial worries.
How a Reverse Mortgage Can Help You Age in Place

How Reverse Mortgage Works

Eligibility requirements

If you are interested in a reverse mortgage, you’ll need to meet certain eligibility requirements. The eligibility requirements for a reverse mortgage may vary by state, but in general, the borrower must be 62 years or older and have a fair market value of your home less than your outstanding mortgage balance. You may also need to meet additional income requirements, depending on the specific type of reverse mortgage you’re considering. But in most cases, you should also provide a document or proof that you are able to pay property taxes. More importantly, you should be the owner of your home and it should be your primary residence.

Types of reverse mortgages

Home Equity Conversion Mortgages

The opens in a new windowHome Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) is a reverse mortgage where you can draw money from the equity in your home. The program is administered by the federal government, but each state has its own rules for qualifying and how to process the loan.

With a HECM loan, you get up to $ $1,089,300 of “loan money” for those who are assigned on or after January 1, 2023. You can use it to pay off your home’s existing mortgage or refinance into another property that has better terms than what your original mortgage requires. You don’t have to pay interest on this money because it stays with your home until it’s paid but it can be more expensive than the traditional home loan because of high up-front costs.

Proprietary Reverse Mortgages

opens in a new windowProprietary reverse mortgages are usually offered by third-party lenders or special-purpose entities. These lenders may be large commercial banks or private equity firms that are interested in providing financing for properties that have higher risk profiles than others.

Single-purpose Reverse Mortgages

Single-purpose reverse mortgages are offered by state, local, and nonprofit agencies. It is the least expensive option for a reverse mortgage loan because there are fewer additional interest fees added to the loan amount. The thing about this type of reverse mortgage is that you are not allowed to use it for many purposes. As its name implies, you are required to use it for one purpose only, A single-purpose reverse mortgage allows you to borrow from the equity in your home and use that money for one purpose that must be approved by your lender.

Advantages of Reverse Mortgage for Aging in Place

No monthly mortgage payments

With a reverse mortgage, the borrower receives payments from the lender based on the equity in their home. These payments do not have to be repaid until the borrower moves out of the home or passes away. This can be beneficial for seniors who are on a fixed income and may have difficulty making monthly mortgage payments.

Cash flow flexibility

Reverse mortgages provide borrowers with the flexibility to access their home equity as needed, which can help them manage their cash flow and meet their expenses. Seniors who are living on a fixed income may find it difficult to cover unexpected expenses, such as medical bills or home repairs. With a reverse mortgage, they can access their home equity to pay for these expenses without having to sell their home or take out a high-interest loan.

Option to receive funds in different ways

Reverse mortgages offer different ways to receive loan funds, including as a lump sum, line of credit, or regular monthly payments. This gives seniors flexibility in how they use the funds to support their living expenses or pay for home modifications or healthcare needs.

Ability to pay for home repairs and modifications

Many seniors want to age in place but may need to make modifications to their homes to do so safely. Reverse mortgages can provide funds to pay for home repairs or modifications, such as installing grab bars, widening doorways, or adding ramps, which can make the home more accessible and comfortable for aging in place. This can also help seniors avoid the expense and inconvenience of moving to a new home or assisted living facility.

Read an article I wrote here on why reverse mortgages are a smart strategy for retirement planning. I explain why reverse mortgages can be a great tool for retirees who want to stay in their homes and still supplement their income. I also share tips on how to get the most out of your reverse mortgage, as well as discuss potential risks.

Disadvantages of Reverse Mortgage for Aging in Place

The Interest rates and fees

The interest rate is generally higher than what you would pay on a regular mortgage. The higher interest rate means that you will be paying more money over time to maintain your house, which could be an issue for older homeowners who may not have the ability or flexibility to make those payments.

You may also have to pay fees for services like servicing fees, insurance, and property charges. These fees can add up quickly if you’re not careful about how you manage your finances.

You still have to pay for it

There are several fees associated with reverse mortgages, including lender fees, FHA (federal housing administration) insurance charges, and closing costs. These costs can be added to the loan balance, resulting in the borrower having more debt and less equity. Borrowers may also be required to pay monthly servicing fees, which can be as high as $35 if the interest rate changes on a monthly basis.

Until you have paid off the loan, you cannot deduct the interest from your taxes.

You may have taken advantage of the mortgage interest deduction when paying off your mortgage, but you will not be able to deduct the interest on a reverse mortgage each year. You’ll only get that benefit if you actually pay off the loan.

Considerations before Taking Out a Reverse Mortgage

Discussing with family, reverse mortgage professional, or financial advisor

Before you take out a reverse mortgage, it’s important to discuss the options with your family and a reverse mortgage professional, or financial advisor. If you’re considering a reverse mortgage because you want to move into assisted living or live independently in a retirement community, this conversation is especially important.

Your family should be involved in the decision-making process because they will be responsible for taking care of the property if something happens to you. They’ll also need to know about any changes that affect how much money they receive from their inheritance.

If you’re planning to move into an assisted living facility or retirement community, make sure your family knows what these options entail. The costs may be more than they expect, so they’ll need time to plan for them—and if anything happens before then (such as your death), they’ll need time to adjust accordingly.

Researching and comparing offers

It’s important to research and compare offers from multiple lenders before taking out a reverse mortgage. This can help you find the best rates, terms, and fees. Consider factors such as the interest rate, loan origination fees, and mortgage insurance premiums. You can also use online resources or consult with a financial advisor to help you evaluate your options.

Evaluating the impact on inheritance and estate planning

A reverse mortgage can impact your inheritance and estate planning. When you take out a reverse mortgage, the loan balance accrues over time and may reduce the equity in your home. This can affect the amount of inheritance you leave to your heirs. Additionally, if the loan balance exceeds the value of the home when it is sold, your heirs may be responsible for repaying the difference. It’s important to consider these factors and discuss them with your family and financial advisor before taking out a reverse mortgage.

Worried that staying in your own home as you get older could be too expensive? This article has the answers to help make it possible. Learn what costs to plan for and how best to prepare.

How a Reverse Mortgage Can Help You Age in Place FAQs

How can a reverse mortgage help me age in place?

A reverse mortgage can help you age in place by providing you with funds based on the equity in your home. These funds can be used to cover living expenses, pay for home modifications, or address healthcare needs. Unlike traditional mortgages, you do not have to make monthly reverse mortgage payments, which can help you manage your cash flow and avoid the risk of foreclosure.

Do I have to make monthly payments with a reverse mortgage?

No, you do not have to make monthly payments with a reverse mortgage. Instead, the loan is repaid when you move out of the home or pass away. However, you are still responsible for paying property taxes, insurance, and maintenance costs on the home.

Can I use the funds from a reverse mortgage in any way I want?

Yes, you can use the funds from a reverse mortgage in any way you want. You can use the funds to cover living expenses, pay for home modifications, or address healthcare needs. The reverse mortgage proceeds can be received as a lump sum, line of credit, or regular monthly payments.

What are the costs associated with a reverse mortgage?

The costs associated with a reverse mortgage may include origination fees, mortgage insurance premiums, homeowners insurance, appraisal fees, and closing costs. These costs can vary depending on the lender and the type of reverse mortgage.

What happens to my home when I pass away or move out?

When you pass away or move out of the home, the loan must be repaid. This can be done by selling the home or using other assets to repay the loan. If the sale of the home does not cover the full amount of the loan, the lender may seek repayment from other assets in your estate. If the sale of the home generates more funds than the loan amount, the remaining equity goes to you or your heirs.


It’s understandable that as you get older, you want to remain in the comfortable, familiar surroundings of your own home. Reverse mortgages can provide the financial security and peace of mind you need to age in place. All in all, a reverse mortgage could be an excellent solution if the drawbacks are acceptable and it meets your individual needs. Also, keep in mind this isn’t a quick fix – along with exploring other options such as downsizing or even sharing finances among family members, consider talking to a certified financial advisor or mortgage lender about reverse mortgages. 

Everyone’s circumstances are unique so they can help give you expert guidance on whether or not a reverse mortgage is right for you. Now is the time to explore all possible options so that later on down the road you’re ready for whatever comes your way and feel completely secure in staying put! Call or Schedule a free consultation today to see what reverse mortgage strategies may work best for achieving your goals of aging in place.

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