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How Does a Reverse Mortgage Work in Florida: Simplified Explanation

A reverse mortgage is a special type of loan designed for seniors that allows them to access the equity in their home without needing to make monthly mortgage payments. The most common type of reverse mortgage is called a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM), which is backed by the Federal Housing Administration and has been available since 1988.

The amount of money that can be obtained through a reverse mortgage depends on factors such as the age of the youngest borrower, the value of the home, and current interest rates.

The funds received from a reverse mortgage are tax-free and can be used for various purposes. Borrowers can choose to receive the funds in a lump sum, as a line of credit, through monthly payments, or a combination of these options.

Repayment of the reverse mortgage is typically required when the last surviving borrower passes away, permanently leaves the home, or fails to pay property taxes or homeowner's insurance.

If the loan is repaid, any remaining equity in the home will be passed on to the borrower's heirs or beneficiaries as stated in their will or trust.

One important aspect of reverse mortgages is that they are non-recourse loans, which means that if the loan balance ends up being higher than the value of the home when it matures, no debt will be passed on to the borrowers' heirs.




How reverse mortgages are different from traditional mortgages

Unlike a traditional or "forward" loan, a reverse mortgage operates in the opposite direction. With a traditional loan, the debt decreases and the equity increases over time as payments are made. However, with a reverse mortgage, the equity decreases and the debt increases over time.

In other words, when you make payments on a traditional loan, you are reducing the amount you owe, which increases your equity in the property over time.

But with a reverse mortgage, you do not make regular payments. Instead, as you draw out funds and interest accrues on the loan, the balance grows, and your equity position in the property becomes smaller.

It's important to note that there are no regular payments or prepayment penalties associated with a reverse mortgage. You have the option to make payments at any time, including paying off the loan in full, without incurring any penalties.

Some borrowers may choose to repay some or all of the accruing interest, or any desired amount, as they see fit.


How much money are you eligible for

The funds you can receive from a reverse mortgage typically range from 40-60% of your home's appraised value. The amount you can receive depends on your age, as loan amounts are primarily determined based on your life expectancy and current interest rates.


Several factors influence the loan amount in a reverse mortgage, including:

  • The age of the youngest borrower.

  • The value of the home or the 2023 lending limit, whichever is lower.

  • The interest rates in effect at the time.

Additionally, other factors that affect the loan amount are:

  • Costs associated with obtaining the loan, which are subtracted from the Principal Limit.

  • Existing mortgages and liens, which must be paid in full.

  • Any remaining funds after paying off costs, mortgages, and liens belong to you or your heirs.

How age affects the amount available

To be eligible for a reverse mortgage, you must be at least 62 years of age. The Principal Limit of the loan is determined based on the age of the youngest borrower, as the program utilizes actuarial tables to estimate how long borrowers are likely to accrue interest.

If there are multiple borrowers, the Principal Limit may be lower, as the terms of the reverse mortgage allow all borrowers to live in the home for the remainder of their lives without making payments.

While there may be exceptions, the premise is that a 62-year-old borrower can accrue more interest over their lifetime compared to an 82-year-old borrower with the same terms.

Hence, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) permits the 82-year-old borrower to start with a higher Principal Limit.


Reverse mortgage words on wooden blocks


Reverse mortgage payment options

Borrowers have multiple options for receiving funds from a reverse mortgage, including:

  • Cash lump sum at closing.

  • Line of credit that can be drawn from as needed.

  • Payments for a set amount and period, known as a "term payment".

  • Guaranteed payment for life, known as a "tenure payment," which lasts as long as you live in your home.

Furthermore, borrowers can also choose to blend these options and use a modified version of each. For instance, a married couple in Florida, both born in 1951 and owning a $500,000 home, may decide to obtain a reverse mortgage.

The couple may want $100,000 at closing to improve their property and fund a college plan for their grandchild. They also have a larger social security benefit that will begin in four years. In the meantime, they wish to increase their monthly income by $1,000.

To meet their needs, they can opt for a modified term loan with a $100,000 draw at closing and set up a monthly payment of $1,000 for four years.

This would leave an additional $125,000 in a line of credit available for future use. Additionally, they would receive a guaranteed growth rate on any unused funds in their line of credit.


How the line of credit growth rate works

In the past, reverse mortgage loans were often seen as a last resort. However, let's consider a scenario where a savvy borrower plans for her future needs. She currently has enough income to cover her expenses but is concerned about potential future financial needs.

So, she decides to obtain a reverse mortgage, which provides her with a $200,000 line of credit after accounting for the costs associated with the loan.

The unused portion of her credit line grows at the same rate as the interest and mortgage insurance premiums that would have accrued if she had borrowed the money.

Over time, her credit line increases, offering her access to more funds if needed in the future. Assuming interest rates remain unchanged, here's how her credit line could grow over time:

  • 10 years - $350,000
  • 15 years - $500,000
  • 20 years - $660,000

It's important to note that these figures assume no changes in interest rates. However, if interest rates increase by 1% in the third year and another 1% in the seventh year, her available line of credit after 20 years could exceed $820,000.

Of course, it's essential to remember that this credit line is not considered income, and any borrowed funds will accrue interest. The borrower or their heirs will need to repay the loan when the property is sold.

Nevertheless, a reverse mortgage can provide a unique opportunity to ensure access to a substantial amount of funds, ranging from $660,000 to $800,000, over a 20-year period.


Tip #1 - Shop interest rates & closing costs

Reverse mortgage lenders are now more willing than ever to assist with paying costs associated with reverse mortgages.

If there is an existing mortgage balance to be paid off, the lender can often recoup the money they spend on your behalf when they sell the loan, as there is usually room in the loan's value.

Lender credits, allowed by HUD, are worth exploring, so it's advisable to shop around and see what options are available.

Education is crucial in this process. Understanding your goals will enable you to secure the best loan for your needs.

Opting for a very low margin will result in the least amount of interest accruing once you start using the line of credit. However, if you are looking to maximize the growth of your credit line, a higher margin will grow at a faster rate.

It's important to consider not just the fees associated with the loan, but also your long-term plans. Choosing the loan with the lowest fees may not be beneficial if you plan to stay in your home for 20 years, as the accrued interest over that time period could cost you tens of thousands of dollars, potentially undermining your goal of preserving equity.

Understanding your desired outcomes from a reverse mortgage will help you select the best option to align with your long- and short-term goals.


Tip #2 - Weigh the costs vs. benefits

As mentioned previously, it's important to note that reverse mortgages may not be suitable for everyone. If obtaining the loan does not adequately address your financial needs and you will still struggle to make ends meet, it's crucial to acknowledge this fact before utilizing your equity.

If the reverse mortgage does not significantly improve your quality of life and you anticipate having to sell your home in a few years, it may be worth considering making that decision before your equity erodes further. Selling your home sooner may make your next move less challenging.

It's important to remember that the reverse mortgage is intended to be the last loan you ever need. If you know that your current home is not your forever home, it might be worth considering using the reverse mortgage to purchase a more suitable home rather than relying on it as a temporary solution, which may not be an ideal option at all.

In general, with careful research and planning, many borrowers can benefit from reverse mortgages. It's crucial to understand how these loans work, have a clear understanding of your financial goals, and carefully evaluate which options will best align with those goals.


MakeFloridaYourHome Readers Frequently Asked Questions

Here are our readers most asked questions about reverse mortgage in Florida:


How much can you get from a reverse mortgage?

Take advantage of the benefits of a reverse mortgage by using MakeFloridaYourHome's calculator.

Determine the potential amount you can receive based on the age of the youngest borrower, current interest rates, and your home's appraised value.

The Loan to Value (LTV) on a reverse mortgage is determined by the Principal Limit Factor (PLF), which varies based on age and interest rates, as calculated through actuarial tables.

As you age, the loan-to-value increases, and lower interest rates result in a higher loan-to-value. Discover how much you could potentially receive by utilizing MakeFloridaYourHome's calculator today!


Who owns the house in a reverse mortgage?

In a reverse mortgage, you retain ownership of your home at all times. Unlike a traditional or "forward" loan, you are not selling your property to the lender.

Instead, you are simply taking out a loan that operates differently. Rest assured, you maintain full ownership of your home while benefiting from the unique features of a reverse mortgage.


How does a reverse mortgage get paid back?

A reverse mortgage does not necessitate monthly mortgage payments, as the loan is repaid when it reaches maturity or when the homeowner decides to sell the home or pay it off through other means.

In the event of the borrower's passing, the heirs of the property have options. They can either pay off the loan balance to retain ownership of the property, or sell the home to settle the outstanding loan balance.

If the loan balance exceeds the current market value of the property, heirs are not obligated to repay the loan or sell the property. They can choose to sign the property over to the servicer, who will handle the process from there.

Any potential loss incurred in the sale is covered by the mortgage insurance fund.


Can I sell my house if I have a reverse mortgage?

Certainly! With a reverse mortgage, there are no prepayment penalties, which means you can sell your house at any time without incurring any additional fees for paying off the loan early.


Is a reverse mortgage a good idea?

Reverse mortgages are not inherently positive or negative. It's crucial to carefully evaluate your individual circumstances and long-term suitability before deciding to take out a reverse mortgage.

If staying in your home for the foreseeable future and utilizing a reverse mortgage can improve your quality of life, it may be a great option.

However, if you have plans to relocate later in retirement, you may want to explore alternatives such as a reverse mortgage for a home purchase or other home equity loans.

Proper consideration of your unique situation is key to making an informed decision.


Bottom Line

Whether you prefer a lump-sum, a line of credit, or monthly payments, there’s no doubt that reverse mortgages can be a great option for those who own real estate in the Sunshine State.

If you’re ready to take the dive and explore if this type of loan could help your long term financial goals, MakeFloridaYourHome is here to help answer your questions and guide you through each step of the process.

From learning more about how it works to helping secure favorable lending terms with our network of lenders, MakeFloridaYourHome can provide experienced advice that is unique to your circumstances. Don’t wait any longer – now is the time to act and start taking advantage of all that Florida has to offer!

Reach out today and get started empowering yourself with strategic financial planning made possible with reverse mortgages from MakeFloridaYourHome.

With over 50 years of mortgage industry experience, we are here to help you achieve the American dream of owning a home. We strive to provide the best education before, during, and after you buy a home. Our advice is based on experience with Phil Ganz and Team closing over One billion dollars and helping countless families.

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