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Who Needs a Proprietary Reverse Mortgage?

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In the realm of financial solutions for seniors, reverse mortgages have emerged as a pivotal tool, enabling homeowners aged 62 and older to tap into their home equity without the need to sell their property. Among the various types of reverse mortgages available, proprietary reverse mortgages stand out as a unique option tailored to specific homeowner needs. This blog delves into the intricacies of proprietary reverse mortgages, exploring who needs them and why they might be a preferable choice for certain homeowners.

Understanding Proprietary Reverse Mortgages

Before we identify who might need a proprietary reverse mortgage, it's essential to understand what it is. Unlike Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECMs), which are federally insured and backed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), proprietary reverse mortgages are private loans offered by banks, credit unions, and mortgage companies. These loans are not subject to the same regulations and insurance protections as HECMs, allowing lenders to tailor them to fit higher-value homes and offer larger loan amounts.

Key Features of Proprietary Reverse Mortgages

  • Higher Loan Limits: Proprietary reverse mortgages can offer significantly higher loan limits than HECM loans, making them suitable for homeowners with high-value properties.
  • Flexibility: These loans often come with more flexible qualification criteria and can be customized to meet specific borrower needs.
  • No Mortgage Insurance Premiums (MIPs): Unlike HECMs, proprietary reverse mortgages do not require upfront or ongoing mortgage insurance premiums, potentially saving borrowers thousands of dollars.

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Who Needs a Proprietary Reverse Mortgage?

1. Owners of High-Value Homes

Homeowners with properties that exceed the federal lending limit for HECMs ($970,800 as of 2023) may find proprietary reverse mortgages more appealing. These individuals can access a larger portion of their home equity than what is available through a HECM, providing them with more financial flexibility.

2. Those Seeking Larger Loan Amounts

Individuals who need to access a substantial amount of equity in their home, whether for debt consolidation, home improvements, or to enhance their retirement income, may benefit from the higher loan amounts offered by proprietary reverse mortgages.

3. Homeowners with Non-FHA Approved Condos

HECMs have strict guidelines regarding the types of properties eligible for a reverse mortgage, including a requirement that condominiums be FHA-approved. Proprietary reverse mortgages, however, often have more lenient property requirements, making them a viable option for condo owners whose properties do not meet FHA standards.

4. Borrowers Looking for Flexibility in Loan Products

Proprietary reverse mortgages can offer a variety of loan products not available through HECMs, including different payment options and terms. This flexibility can be crucial for borrowers with specific financial goals or needs that do not align with the more standardized HECM offerings.

5. Those Concerned About Leaving an Inheritance

Some proprietary reverse mortgages offer a "non-recourse" feature, which means the loan balance will never exceed the home's value at the time of sale, protecting the borrower's heirs from owing more than the home is worth. While HECMs also offer this protection, the higher loan amounts available through proprietary loans can provide additional peace of mind for homeowners concerned about preserving their estate's value.

Considerations Before Choosing a Proprietary Reverse Mortgage

While proprietary reverse mortgages can offer significant benefits, they are not without their drawbacks. The lack of federal insurance means borrowers may face higher interest rates and fees compared to HECMs. Additionally, the flexibility and higher loan amounts come with the risk of depleting home equity more rapidly, potentially leaving fewer assets for heirs.

Prospective borrowers should also consider the lender's reputation and the loan's terms and conditions. It's crucial to work with a reputable lender and to thoroughly understand the loan agreement, including interest rates, fees, and repayment terms.


Proprietary reverse mortgages represent a vital solution for a specific segment of the senior population. Homeowners with high-value properties, those in need of larger loan amounts, or individuals with non-FHA approved condos can find the financial flexibility they need through these private loans. Additionally, the absence of mortgage insurance premiums and the potential for more flexible loan products make proprietary reverse mortgages an attractive option for those with unique needs or circumstances.

However, the decision to take out a proprietary reverse mortgage should not be made lightly. It's essential to weigh the benefits against the potential risks and costs, considering the impact on one's financial future and estate. Consulting with a financial advisor and comparing offers from multiple lenders can help ensure that homeowners make an informed decision that aligns with their long-term financial goals.

In summary, while proprietary reverse mortgages are not the right choice for every homeowner, they offer a valuable financial tool for those who fit the criteria. By providing access to a larger portion of home equity with greater flexibility, these loans can significantly enhance the financial well-being of certain seniors, allowing them to live more comfortably and securely in their retirement years.

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