4 min read

HECM vs. Proprietary Reverse Mortgages, Including Jumbo Reverse Mortgages

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Navigating the world of reverse mortgages can be a complex endeavor, especially when deciding between a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) and a proprietary reverse mortgage. This blog aims to demystify these options, providing a clear understanding of each, and shedding light on the concept of jumbo reverse mortgages.

What is a Reverse Mortgage?

A reverse mortgage is a financial tool designed for homeowners aged 62 and older, allowing them to convert part of their home equity into cash. This solution can be a lifeline for seniors looking to supplement their retirement income, manage debts, or cover unexpected expenses.

Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM)

The HECM is the most popular type of reverse mortgage. It's federally insured and backed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Key Features of HECM:

  1. Eligibility: Homeowners must be 62 years or older, own their home (or have a small mortgage balance), and live in the home as their primary residence.
  2. Limits: The amount you can borrow is capped and depends on several factors, including the borrower's age, the home's value, and current interest rates.
  3. Fees and Costs: Includes an origination fee, upfront mortgage insurance premium (MIP), and other standard closing costs. Ongoing costs include annual MIPs and interest.
  4. Consumer Safeguards: Mandatory counseling session with a HUD-approved counselor to ensure borrowers understand the terms and responsibilities.

Proprietary Reverse Mortgages

Proprietary reverse mortgages are private loans backed by the companies that develop them. They're not subject to the same regulations as HECMs.

Key Features of Proprietary Reverse Mortgages:

  1. Higher Borrowing Limits: Ideal for high-value homes, as they often allow for larger loan amounts than HECMs.
  2. Broader Eligibility: May have less stringent requirements regarding the borrower's age or the home's value.
  3. Flexibility: Can offer more diverse payment options and terms.
  4. Costs: While they may have lower upfront costs, the interest rates can be higher than HECMs.

Jumbo Reverse Mortgages

Jumbo reverse mortgages are a type of proprietary reverse mortgage designed specifically for high-value homes, typically those worth more than the HECM limit.

Characteristics of Jumbo Reverse Mortgages:

  1. Loan Limits: Can exceed the federal limits set for HECMs, making them suitable for more expensive properties.
  2. Eligibility Criteria: Similar to proprietary reverse mortgages but tailored for higher-value homes.
  3. Costs and Fees: Vary by lender, but can include higher interest rates and unique fee structures.
  4. Flexibility: Often provide more flexible terms and payment options to accommodate the higher loan values.

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Comparing HECM and Proprietary Reverse Mortgages

Loan Amounts and Limits

HECMs have a limit set by the federal government, which can restrict the amount of equity high-value home owners can access. Proprietary reverse mortgages, including jumbo reverse mortgages, fill this gap by offering higher borrowing limits.

Costs and Fees

HECMs involve certain mandatory costs like the upfront and annual MIPs. Proprietary reverse mortgages might have different fee structures, potentially offering lower upfront costs but possibly higher interest rates.

Consumer Safeguards

HECMs require counseling and have numerous safeguards due to their federal backing. Proprietary reverse mortgages are less regulated, which means consumer protections can vary significantly between lenders.

Flexibility and Options

Proprietary reverse mortgages often provide more flexibility in terms of payment options and terms. This can be particularly advantageous for borrowers with specific needs or those with higher-value homes.

Choosing the Right Option

Deciding between a HECM and a proprietary reverse mortgage depends on several factors:

  1. Home Value: If your home value exceeds the HECM limits, a proprietary or jumbo reverse mortgage might be more suitable.
  2. Financial Needs: Consider the amount of money you need to access and the flexibility of payment options.
  3. Costs and Fees: Evaluate the long-term costs and potential impact on your estate and heirs.
  4. Counseling and Advice: Seek advice from a HUD-approved counselor or a financial advisor to understand the implications fully.


Understanding the differences between HECM and proprietary reverse mortgages, including jumbo reverse mortgages, is crucial for making an informed decision. Each option has its unique features, benefits, and limitations. Homeowners should carefully consider their individual needs, home values, and financial goals when choosing the right reverse mortgage product.

Remember, reverse mortgages, while beneficial, also come with responsibilities and long-term implications. It's essential to approach this decision with thorough research and professional guidance.

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