I recently upgraded my phone to a “smart phone.” There’s lots more features than my old cell phone, lots of “bells and whistles” as they say. In fact the phone is so smart I’ve had to take classes and talk to the phone representative to learn now to use it and I still don’t understand all of the features. So how does this compare to a reverse mortgage?
It’s often said that a reverse mortgage is complex and complicated which has a scare factor for some people, including by the Consumer Financial Protections Bureau (CFBP) who claims they are complex and consequently needs additional protections to prevent seniors from making unwise decisions.
At a recent meeting I asked how many understand their conventional mortgage and can explain the terms. The response was laughs of embarrassment and shaking of heads, and comments that they can’t explain much more than there is interest and they have to make payments and when they are due. They don’t understand how the interest rate or payment amount is calculated, generally don’t look at the fees or understand what they cover, the risks the lenders and/or investors take, etc.
Do you know how the interest rate and payment was determined on your mortgage? Do you know what the fees were on your conventional mortgage? When I’ve shared the Explanation of Closing Costs with borrowers, I’ve been told, “We’ve purchased many homes and no one has explained the fees like this so we understand them.”
The same when purchasing a car and getting financing, one looks at the features of the car but doesn’t necessarily pay attention to the terms of the loan to purchase the car they desire other than the interest and payment and when it’s due.
Yes, the reverse mortgage is “different” than what one usually thinks of for a mortgage. Based on the FHA insured Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM), the most popular reverse mortgage and only one available in Minnesota, the differences include:
- the interest rate is not determined by one’s income, assets or credit scores
- there are no monthly mortgage payments required,
- the loan is not due until the borrowers are no longer living in their home as their primary residence or on their 150th birthday and they are non-recourse
- there are many protections including counseling by an independent third-party HUD trained and approved counselor
Like with your smart phone where you’ve had to read, study and get educated on the features and terms to enjoy the benefits, once one does some studying, gets the facts and details from a knowledgeable and experienced reverse mortgage specialist, and goes through the required counseling, one finds that the reverse mortgage isn’t that complicated and there are many benefits.
As with any purchase, a smart phone, a car, a mortgage, a credit card, even an appliance, one needs to be educated on what they are obtaining. With knowledge one can make educated decisions for their situation and enjoy the benefits of the product without the fear that they are making an unwise decision.
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