5 Reverse Mortgage Mistakes You Should Avoid

By being aware of these mistakes and taking steps to avoid them, borrowers can make sure that they’re making the most informed decision possible when it comes to their financial future.

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Matt Lyons


Jan 21, 2021

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A reverse mortgage is a type of loan that allows senior homeowners to access their home equity and use it as a source of income. According to the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association, in 2022 there were 64,489 new reverse mortgage borrowers, which is an increase of nearly 10,000 compared to the previous year.

It’s an increasingly popular option for seniors who are looking for ways to supplement their retirement income. Reverse mortgages can be used to purchase a new home, make home improvements, pay off existing debt, or just provide additional financial security in retirement.

However, there are some common mistakes that people make when considering taking out a reverse mortgage. Knowing what these mistakes are can help you make an informed decision about whether or not it is the right option for you.

In this article, we'll discuss some of the most common reverse mortgage mistakes and how to avoid them.

Wasting Loan Proceeds On Unnecessary Purchases

The reverse mortgage proceeds can be used for a wide range of retirement spending needs. There are no restrictions on how the proceeds of a reverse mortgage loan can be used. But it's crucial that borrowers use their reverse mortgage loan proceeds wisely. 

You shouldn't use your home equity to make impulse buys or go on a shopping spree that isn't in line with your retirement plan. Consider your options before you buy that new branded watch or take that expensive vacation. If you don't have enough money to cover such extravagant expenses, your home equity would be better used on essential items and activities. You may be at greater risk of financial problems if you use up your home equity too quickly.

Failure to Pay Property Tax and Insurance

The Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) requires that the homeowner maintain current property taxes and homeowners' insurance. The reverse mortgage balance will be due immediately if you are behind on either of these payments.

This could be a problem if you do not have enough cash to cover it or if you are forced to use your savings to pay off the debt.

Failing to Tell Family Members About Your Reverse Mortgage

Doing your research on reverse mortgages before making a decision is indispensable. Retirees must research reverse mortgage loans to make sure that this is the product they need. However, it is also important that family members be included in their plans.

One mistake reverse mortgage borrowers often make is not telling their loved ones about the loan. The reverse mortgage loan balance is due when the last remaining borrower passes away. It can be a surprise to adult children who receive a notice in the mail that the reverse mortgage needs repayment. Therefore, to avoid any misunderstandings and unpleasant situations, you should talk to your loved ones about reverse mortgage plans.

Not Shopping Around for the Right Reverse Mortgage

The reverse mortgage industry is flooded with lenders, but not all are created equal. Compare reverse mortgage options before applying so that you know how much equity you can withdraw and the fees and rates you may be charged. Shop online for the top reverse mortgage companies and compare their ratings.

If possible, you should try to obtain two or three quotes. You want to choose the reverse mortgage specialist who offers you the lowest rates and costs and can offer you the most money, but make sure to choose an experienced professional to work with.

Obtaining Reverse Mortgage After the Spouse's Death 

There are no books or guides that explain how to grieve a spouse. However, experts can provide an important piece of advice when it comes to not making major decisions during this time, at least not in the first year.

If you’re planning to apply for a reverse mortgage during this time, make sure to get the support of your family. This might save you a lot of headaches and help you avoid costly mistakes.

A reverse mortgage specialist can also be of assistance. You can use the expert to research and find the best reverse mortgage deal instead of falling prey to the tricks used by different reverse mortgage companies.

Bottom Line

Reverse mortgages can be a beneficial financial tool, but they don’t come without risks. It’s important to understand the potential pitfalls of reverse mortgages before signing the application. Common mistakes include failing to shop around for the best terms, not understanding all of the fees, and wasting loan proceeds on non-essential purchases.

By being aware of these mistakes and taking steps to avoid them, borrowers can make sure that they’re making the most informed decision possible when it comes to their financial future.

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May 25, 2023
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