The Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) program enables older homeowners to withdraw some of the equity in their home in the form of monthly payments for life or a fixed term, or in a lump sum, or through a line of credit.
In addition, the HECM mortgage can be used to purchase a primary home when the borrower is 62 years of age or older and is able to use cash in hand to pay the difference between the reverse mortgage and the sales price plus closing costs for the property.
To be eligible for a HECM mortgage, current homeowners must be 62 years of age or older, own their home outright or have a low mortgage balance that can be paid off at closing with proceeds from the reverse mortgage. The home must be their principal residence. In addition, the HECM can be used to purchase a primary home if the borrower is able to use cash in hand to pay the difference between the HECM and the sales price and closing costs for the property.
The program requires that borrowers either receive free or low cost reverse mortgage housing counseling from a HUD approved reverse mortgage counseling agency before applying for a reverse mortgage. FHA insures HECM loans to protect lenders against loss if amounts withdrawn exceed equity when the property is sold.
Type of Assistance:
HECM can be used by homeowners who are 62 years of age and older. The total income that an owner can receive through HECM is the maximum claim amount, which is calculated with a formula including the age of the owner(s), the interest rate, and the value of the home.
Borrowers may choose one of five payment options: (1) tenure, which gives the borrower a monthly payment from the lender for as long as the borrower lives and continues to occupy the home as a principal residence; (2) term, which gives the borrower monthly payments for a fixed period selected by the borrower; (3) line of credit, which allows the borrower to make withdrawals up to a maximum amount, at times and in amounts of the borrower's choosing; (4) modified tenure, which combines the tenure option with a line of credit; and (5) modified term, which combines the term option with a line of credit.
The borrower remains the owner of the home and may sell it and move at any time, keeping the sales proceeds that exceed the mortgage balance. A borrower cannot be forced to sell the home to pay off the mortgage, even if the mortgage balance grows to exceed the value of the property. A HECM loan need not be repaid until the borrower moves, sells, or dies. When the loan must be paid, if it exceeds the value of the property, the borrower (or the heirs) will owe no more than the value of the property, if they sell the property to repay the loan.
Two mortgage insurance premiums are collected to pay for HECM: an upfront premium (2 percent of the home's value), and a monthly premium (which equals 0.5 percent per year of the mortgage balance).
A lender can charge an origination fee up to $2,500 if the home's appraised value is less than $125,000. If the home is valued at more than $125,000, lenders can charge 2% of the first $200,000 of the home's value plus 1% of the amount over $200,000. HECM origination fees are capped at $6,000.
All HECM borrowers are required to complete reverse mortgage counseling through a HUD approved housing counseling agency.
To be eligible for HECM, a homeowner must (1) be 62 years of age or older, (2) have a low outstanding mortgage balance or own their home free and clear, and (3) have received HUD approved reverse mortgage counseling to learn about the program.
An eligible property must be a principal residence, but it can be a single family residence, a one to four -unit building with one unit occupied by the borrower, a manufactured home, a unit in an FHA approved condominium, or a unit in a planned unit development. The property must meet FHA standards, but the owner can pay for repairs using the reverse mortgage.
Borrowers who meet the eligibility criteria above can apply through an FHA HECM approved lending institution. Borrowers can locate FHA approved lenders through HUD's searchable listing.
This program is authorized by the Housing and Community Development Act of 1987, Section 417, Public Law 100-242 (12 U.S.C. 1715z-20). Program regulations are in 24 CFR 200 and 206.
For More Information:
Homeowners who want to learn more about this program should call HUD's toll-free housing counseling information line, (800) 569-4287 or see the searchable list of HUD approved reverse mortgage housing counseling agencies.
Additional information is available from AARP's Home Equity Conversion Information Center (202) 434-6044.