Knowing the basics of a reverse mortgage can seem intimidating when you’re first learning about it.  Trust me, I’ve been there.  That’s why I created this brief checklist that outlines the very basics of what’s needed to qualify for the most common type of reverse mortgage, the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (or HECM). 

  • Age: at least 55 years old

The minimum age for a reverse mortgage is 55 years old.  If you’re married, only one spouse needs to be 55 years old (or older).  The other spouse can be younger than 55, but they will be designated as a non-borrowing spouse.  Since a reverse mortgage is loan, the age of the youngest borrower is a key factor the bank uses to determine the loan amount.  

  • Considerable equity in your home

To qualify for a reverse mortgage, you’ll need to have considerable equity in your home.  The reason being is that a reverse mortgage lets you leverage the equity in your house for this loan.  

This means that you own your home outright (no mortgage), or you’ve paid down the principal on an existing mortgage significantly. 

  • House must be your primary residence

Pretty straightforward, but the house with the reverse mortgage must be your primary residence.  While you are still able to travel or stay at a vacation home, you just have to spend a majority of your time at the home with the reverse mortgage.  

  • Stay up to date on property taxes and homeowners insurance

It’s the homeowner's responsibility to make sure their property taxes are paid and they have home owners insurance.  

  • Must be able to maintain the home

A reverse mortgage becomes due and payable when the borrowers sell the house or pass away.  If the borrowers pass away, it is common for the heirs of the borrowers to sell the house or for them to let the bank sell the house.  Either way, the bank wants to make sure that the home is in good condition so that they can satisfy the loan amount with the sale of the house.

  • Attend a HUD-approved reverse mortgage counseling session

This 90 minute counseling session will review the pros and cons of a reverse mortgage.  It will cost about $125, and it’s money well spent.  A reverse mortgage is a very big financial decision, and this requirement helps to ensure that borrowers understand the implications of a reverse mortgage.  There’s also a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to a reverse mortgage that this can help clarify.  


If you’re just beginning your journey to learn about a reverse mortgage, please feel free to print out this blog post.  I also have a lot more information on this blog that will help you learn things like: payments to the home owner with a reverse mortgage.


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