Imagine this: you are nearing retirement and worried about whether your savings will last you through your golden years. Then your neighbor mentions a reverse mortgage. They tell you that you can get cash payments from your home’s equity and live off that money. It sounds like the answer to your problems, but like many financial products out there, it may just be too good to be true.
Before making a rash financial decision, arm yourself with some valuable reverse mortgage information.
Reverse Mortgage Basics
Here’s a quick primer on reverse mortgages. A reverse mortgage is a type of home equity loan, created specifically for those 62 and older who own their home outright or have small mortgages. Instead of making your normal monthly mortgage payment with the goal of paying off your home, you essentially give the equity you’ve built back to the bank and they pay you monthly, as a lump sum, or as a line of credit.
Reverse mortgages don’t require payments until you sell your house, die, or permanently move out. You are still required to pay property taxes and homeowner’s insurance and your home must be your primary residence. How much you receive through a reverse mortgage will depend on your age, the value of your home, and current loan interest rates.
Now that you know the bare minimum about reverse mortgages, let’s look into why you might want to avoid them.
They Aren’t Cheap
You might obtain a reverse mortgage to create some money to live on, but your upfront costs will be hefty, up to 3-5% of the loan amount. (1) This includes an origination fee, appraisal fee, closing costs, and a required mortgage insurance premium.
When you invest your money, compound interest is on your side, but with reverse mortgages it works against you in a major way. The more the bank pays you, the more the interest grows. As its name implies, it’s the reverse of a regular mortgage where your interest payments decrease as you pay off more of the principal. For example, let’s say you have a $100,000 reverse mortgage that you decide to take as a lump sum at a 5% interest rate. After your first year, your loan balance will be $105,116. But after ten years, it will be sitting at $164,701. (2) The interest eats away at your equity, meaning you own less of your home as time goes on.
They Hurt Your Heirs
If you were planning to leave your home as an inheritance for your children or grandchildren, a reverse mortgage will make that impossible. If the interest has racked up enough by the time you die, every penny from the sale of the home could go to the reverse mortgage lender. If your heirs decide to keep the home, they will be responsible for paying off the full value of the loan, even if it’s higher than the sale value of the home.
You Could Outlive Your Mortgage
Just as there is a very real chance you could outlive your retirement savings, you could also outlive your reverse mortgage. What happens when you have borrowed the maximum amount and no longer have money coming in? Other living expenses aside, you will still need to pay for taxes, insurance, and utilities. If you default on those payments, you risk foreclosure. This leaves you with nowhere to live and no money to live on, not something any retiree dreams of.
It’s not all doom and gloom. If you feel like a reverse mortgage is your only way to fund retirement, here are some other options to consider.
If you are willing to make some changes, downsizing your home or moving to a cheaper area could drastically decrease your living expenses and stretch out your retirement savings. When you sell, you capitalize on the equity you’ve built and can stash away the profit to live off of. A smaller home will also have lower maintenance costs, property taxes, and utility bills. You could also rent instead of buying another house and have extra money to invest or spend.
Investigate Other Assets
Even if your retirement savings seem meager, you might be able to maximize what you have by making a few wise decisions. For example, if you work a few years longer and max out your employer-sponsored plan and IRAs, how much would that give you over the long-term? Is there an option to work part-time after retirement? Have you determined the most beneficial time for you to claim your Social Security benefits? Making small tweaks to your financial plan can make a significant difference in the long-term.
Rely On A Professional
A financial advisor has the knowledge and experience to walk you through your worries, reexamine your goals, and provide you with multiple retirement scenarios. A reverse mortgage should be avoided unless you have experienced a financial emergency and no other assets are available for you to tap into. If you want the advice of a professional to help you make the best decisions for your money and find creative ways to reach your goals, click here to schedule a phone call. I would love to help you feel more confident in your financial future.
Richard Archer is a financial advisor and the President of Archer Investment Management with more than eighteen years of industry experience. Largely working with successful individuals and couples, he specializes in providing comprehensive investment guidance and personalized care and attention to each client. Along with holding a Bachelor of Science in Economics and a MBA, he is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certificant and a Chartered Financial Analyst®. He combines his advanced industry education and knowledge with his genuine care for people to provide clients with an exceptional experience. To learn more about Richard, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.archerim.com.