Frequently Asked Questions


The Reverse Mortgage program has changed over the past 50 or so years. In 1961, Nellie Young got the first Reverse Mortgage through a company called Deering Savings & Loan in Portland, Maine. The loan officer was Nelson Haynes. Nellie happened to be the widow of Nelson's high school football coach, and Nellie needed to supplement her income after the death of her husband. Getting a Reverse Mortgage helped Nellie to remain in her home.

During the 1970's, several banks offered Reverse Mortgage styled loans, but they didn't provide the layer of protection that the FHA reverse mortgage provides today; there was no FHA mortgage insurance on the loans at that time.

A special committee in the 1980's called the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging issued a report on Reverse Mortgages.  It stressed the importance of having a Reverse Mortgage program that was standardized with FHA mortgage insurance as well as uniform lending practices. In 1987, Congress passed the FHA insurance bill so that Reverse Mortgages could be insured. President Ronald Reagan signed the FHA Reverse Mortgage bill into law on February 5, 1988. Marjorie Mason of Fairway, Kansas was issued the very first FHA insured HECM by James B. Nutter Co.

Who Insures Reverse Mortgages?
The FHA (Federal Housing Administration) insures Reverse Mortgages. The FHA HECM, Home Equity Conversion Mortgage, is administered through the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

How do I qualify for a Reverse Mortgage? 
You must be at least 62 years of age, own your own home, and live in the home as your primary residence or at least six months per year, and not be delinquent on any federal debt.   

What types of homes qualify for a Reverse Mortgage?
Single Family homes, 2-4 unit dwellings, townhouses, detached homes, condominiums, and most manufactured homes are eligible for Reverse Mortgages. (Condominiums must be FHA approved- ask your condo board or HOA about status .) (Co-ops are not currently approved for Reverse Mortgages. Mobile homes are also not eligible for a Reverse Mortgage.

What plans are there for a reverse mortgage?  
Here are the payment plans for the adjustable rate HECM:

* Lump Sum - an amount of cash at closing (you can choose a portion and keep the rest in a line of credit).
* Tenure- equal monthly payments as long as at least one borrower lives and continues to occupy the property as a principal residence.
* Line of Credit- draw any amount at any time until the line of credit is exhausted.

   (NOTE: In 5 or 10 years, you may decide to convert your line of credit into a steady stream of monthly funds. It's your money. You choose how to appropriate your own funds.)
* Term - In order to increase your proceeds, you may choose a term loan which will expire at the end of the term. However, the borrower does not have to leave the residence but can continue to live there.

* Fixed interest rate HECM mortgages: You will receive the Single Disbursement Lump Sum at closing.  The fixed rate HECM does not have the flexibility of the adjustable rate HECM.There is no line of credit and no monthly stipend available with this program.

If I decide to do a Reverse Mortgage will there be an inspection of my home?
Yes, there will be an inspection of your home known as an appraisal. Your home, inside and out, will be evaluated to determine its value.

Is there a minimum credit score to qualify?  
No.  However, HUD has instituted a financial assessment to be sure that each borrower can pay their taxes and homeowner's insurance, thereby protecting their home from foreclosure due to non-payment. LESA, Life Expectancy Set Aside, is a good safeguard which can set money aside for taxes/insurance which can be determined by the lender or borrower. Your lender will deduct a particular sum of money from the maximum lending limit you qualify for (based on age and life expectancy) and will pay your taxes/insurance for you.  Some borrowers will be required to have a LESA while others have actually requested it.

HUD established this new rule so borrowers will never have to fear not meeting their obligations and defaulting on their reverse mortgage .  The LESA can provide peace of mind.  It's sort of an escrow account as in non-reverse mortgage products.

How much money can I borrow?  
At present, the maximum lending limit is $726,525, but you'd have to be very old to get all of it.  The cash out in a Reverse Mortgage depends on a few factors:

1. age of the youngest borrower
2, appraised value of your home
3. current interest rates
4. balances on current liens and mortgages

With the FHA Reverse Mortgage, the older you are, the more money you receive. So if your home is worth $726,525, and you are in your nineties, you would receive more proceeds (and more of a percentage of your home's value) than if you were only in your sixties.  Typically, you can expect to receive anywhere from 38% to 68% of your home's equity (age 62 to 93 as an age range of how much you'd receive.)

Now, to protect your equity, HUD has set the first year limit of funds to 60%. After 365 days, your remaining lending limit can be accessed.

Can the interest rate be locked? Although you cannot lock interest rates with a reverse mortgage, you will receive either the rate at application or the rate at closing, whichever is lower.

How is my money disbursed to me?Typically, borrowers choose to have their money directly deposited into their checking account. You may choose a lump sum, fixed monthly payments, a line of credit, or a combination of all three. You can also choose a specified loan term. For example, ten, fifteen, twenty year terms or any term may be chosen. A shorter term will increase your monthly proceeds. Although with term loans, the monthly payments cease when the term expires, you can still remain in your home.   

What is I need more money per month  than the reverse mortgage offers?

If the HECM reverse mortgage doesn't provide you with enough spendable cash each month, you could set up a term loan, say for 10, 20, 25, or 30 years.  In this way, your monthly stipend will be larger. Once the term ends, the monthly stipend also ends.

Does the lender own my home?
The lender does NOT own your home. Just as with any mortgage on your home, you retain title as the owner, not the bank.

How will the proceeds from a Reverse Mortgage affect my taxes, social security, or other benefits?

Proceeds from a Reverse Mortgage are not considered taxable income so your income taxes are not affected. Your Social Security and Medicare benefits are also not affected. The impact on other federal, state, or local assistance programs such as Medicaid should be discussed with a financial advisor or attorney . NOTE: Your Medicaid benefits may be affected if your reverse mortgage proceeds are not spent down in the month they are received. (Check with your tax advisor.)  

Who Pays My Real Estate Taxes If I Take Out a Reverse Mortgage?
You continue to pay your real estate taxes along with your homeowner's insurance and maintain your property. If you live in a condo or are part of an association, those fees must also be paid by you.   After a Financial Assessment, and if the lender finds there is not enough income to pay your ongoing taxes/insurance, a LESA, life expectancy set aside, will be established to be sure that these will be  taken care of throughout the life of the loan.


What if I need to go into a nursing home?
As long as the borrower is not in a nursing home for 12 consecutive months, the loan will not become due. In the final mortgage documents, it states the 12 months must be consecutive for the lender to call in the loan to be paid. So if you go into a nursing home for six months, the reverse mortgage is not affected.

I cannot qualify for the HECM since I owe too much on my current mortgage.  Is there a Jumbo HECM?
Yes, there is. Contact Kathie Adler to see if you will qualify with the jumbo product. Rates are higher, but it may work perfectly.

When is the Reverse Mortgage repaid?
Repayment occurs when your home is no longer your primary residence, when the loan is refinanced, or when the last living borrower has died.

What will I owe at the end?
What monies are owed the lender at the end of the Reverse Mortgage are Principal, interest, and FHA mortgage insurance premiums that have accrued over the life of the loan. If you opted for a line of credit. you only repay the portion of the credit line that was actually used. Repayment (called a maturity event) happens when you no longer occupy the home, refinance, or pass away. For reference, see: for when a HECM qualifies for a "maturity event" or becomes due.  

Are my heirs responsible for the reverse mortgage debt? No. The loan is not in their name so they are not personally liable.

Are my heirs responsible for the debt if the loan balance is more than the value?
Neither you nor your heirs are liable if the outstanding loan is more than the house is worth. The FHA mortgage insurance covers any remaining balance. If the house ends up being worth less than what is owed, and if the heirs decide they don’t want  to keep the house, the borrower’s estate is not responsible.  On the other hand, if your heirs want to keep the house, they have the option of paying off the loan for the existing balance or 95% of the current market value, whichever amount is less.

But I want to leave my house to my kids!
The Reverse Mortgage is a rising debt loan because NO mortgage payments are required. However, if you want to leave more equity to your heirs, you can opt to pay any amount to the lender whether per month or at various times throughout the year.  Additionally, by paying the interest on the loan, you will reserve more equity for your children.  

Will I be able to change to monthly proceeds if I closed with a line of credit?
Yes! You can change how you receive your money After all it's yours to do with what you want.   Even after you close, you may decide to change the way you receive your monies. You may want to receive monthly proceeds even though you only have a line of credit with your HECM.  There is a small fee for doing this, but it's your money to tailor to your needs exactly how you wish.

Does the lender permit me to make payments to defray the interest if I choose to?
Yes.  But you are not required to make any monthly mortgage payments. You can check with your lender, however, as mentioned, this is not required.

Can I deduct Reverse Mortgage interest from my income taxes? Will my heirs have to pay tax on the proceeds I received from my Reverse Mortgage?  
Because you are not currently paying interest on your Reverse Mortgage, you will be unable to deduct the interest from your income taxes. However, your heirs may be able to deduct all the interest that has accrued, however, they will need to consult a tax advisor. Reverse Mortgage proceeds are tax free; there is no tax on the proceeds to  you or your heirs.     

The HECM program has safeguards built into the loan by HUD for your safety. I consider the reverse mortgage the safest loan there is. Click below to see what they are. 

What Are the Reverse Mortgage Closing Costs?

Getting the Facts About Costs

FHA Closing Costs

I hear potential borrowers decrying closing fees, but when you consider the benefits to the loan and what you can achieve, it's all relative. All closing costs can be financed into the loan  except the appraisal fee and counseling fee. HECM Counseling, which is required by HUD, is a fee that can be waived based on income status. Here are typical reverse mortgage fees:

This fee at closing (which is almost always financed in the loan) is 2% of the appraised value of the home (not to exceed $13,593) and .5% of the ongoing/outstanding balance as the loan accrues . You will get a statement each month showing the costs of the loan as it accrues. But there is no payment required on these fees until the end of the loan. 


This fee is the lender’s fee. The maximum fee is set by FHA and is 2% of the first $200,000 of your property value and 1% over $200,000.  The maximum origination fee is $6,000. 


(Appraisal Fee) / see below *

Manufactured Home Inspection (If a manufactured home)

Origination Fee

Lender's Title insurance

Settlement or closing fee


Recording fees

Courier fee / Overnight

Document preparation 

Flood certification

Credit report

Tax Cert Fee

Notary Fee


A home appraisal (interior and exterior) will determine the value of the property. An FHA appraisal has different parameters than a conventional appraisal. It is required to be done by an FHA-approved appraiser, and the appraisal must meet FHA guidelines.  


Equity Loan or Reverse Mortgage?

Same House, Different Options

Reverse Mortgages and Equity Loans - Similar, But Different
Although a Reverse Mortgage is a lot like an Equity Loan, there are some significant differences.

(a) With a Reverse Mortgage, your credit score is not a determining factor.
(b) Unlike an equity loan, you make no monthly mortgage payments.
(c) With an Equity loan, you would have to refinance to increase your line of credit. With a Reverse Mortgage, your unused line of credit increases year after year giving you access to more funds without the need to refinance.  

Learn and Compare

Compare the different programs for equity loans if that's the route you feel you'd like to go. Compare them to the reverse mortgage program and weigh all the benefits and review the pros and cons.  You'll find the Reverse Mortgage offers lots of advantages. Maybe that's why senior homeowners choose the HECM program!

Peace of mind comes from not only having less stress but also less bills especially as we age. Consider the HECM as your peace-giving alternative.




KATHLEEN ADLER'S NMLS ID: 65780  - For the NMLS Consumer Access Website, go to: www.     

Contact Kathie Adler 631-804-9044

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3330 Park Avenue, Wantagh, New York 11793

Kathleen Adler NMLS ID 65780