A reverse mortgage is a great financial solution for homeowners who are seeking ways to keep their home, pay all their expenses and still maintain their financial independence. Now is the best time for homeowners to take advantage of this type of financing. Soon, certain changes will take place within the reverse mortgage program that will likely affect future applicants.
Current Administration Requests HECM Subsidy
Home equity conversion mortgages (HECMs), which are the most common type of reverse mortgage, have been successful in helping homeowners find a way out of financial predicaments. The program offers several advantages, but to continue offering these home loans and their benefits, the program needs money. The office of Management and Budget requested a $250 million subsidy for the HECM program in the 2011 budget. If this subsidy is not approved, major changes will go into effect that will likely reduce the effectiveness of the home equity conversion mortgage.
The principal limit factors (or PLFs), which determine the amount of money a homeowner can receive from his or her loan based on age and interest rates, were already reduced at the beginning of this year. David H. Stevens, assistant secretary of Housing for the Federal Housing Administration, said that in order for the program to successfully continue in 2011, whether the subsidy is received or not, the annual mortgage premium will have to increase from 0.5% to 1.25% and the principal limit factors will have to be reduced at least another 1-5%, depending on the homeowner’s age.
What Does This Mean for HECMs?
If the $250 million subsidy is not granted, even more changes will have to take place. Without the necessary money, the principal limit factors would have to be reduced another 21% in 2011, which is unpleasant news for those in the process of obtaining reverse mortgages. Reducing the principal limit means seniors will receive significantly less money from their loan, specifically about 30% less, which equals about $23,000 to $27,000. Stevens fears that, if this change occurs, fewer homeowners will be able to take out these loans because there will not be enough to finance their homes.
Act Now to Reap the Benefits of this Loan
This type of financing is different than other home loans. Unlike most loans, homeowners do not have to pay a monthly mortgage payment. As long as the loan requirements are met, the homeowner will not owe anything on the loan until he or she no longer resides in the home. If there is sufficient equity in the home, the equity can be converted into cash that the homeowner can use for any expense. The amount the homeowner can receive depends on his or her age, home value and interest rates, and the homeowner can choose how his or her money is disbursed.
Stevens discussed how crucial the HECM program is because of the various financial setbacks seniors encounter today, including high medical bills and declines in income and savings. If all of these changes take place, it will eliminate this loan as a financial solution for many homeowners. Homeowners who want to enjoy the current benefits offered by this type of financing should speak with a loan specialist to learn more about their options.
Victoria Belle-Miller is the newest member of the Senior Reverse Mortgage writing staff. Her background in journalistic writing and ability to evaluate the issues that Americans face in daily life make her a strong addition to the team and a valuable source of sound mortgage advice.