Deciding If a Reverse Mortgage is a Good Choice

Related topics: Legal & Financial, Financial

Counseling helps older homeowners explore whether a reverse mortgage is right for them.

For more information about reverse mortgage, download the National Council on Aging's free consumer booklet. Also available in Spanish.

If you or someone you know is considering a reverse mortgage, you must get counseling from a government-approved agency. The National Council on Aging (NCOA) recently announced a new national toll-free number for older homeowners to sign up for counseling when considering a reverse mortgage: 1-855-899-3778.

Reverse mortgages allow homeowners aged 62+ to use a portion of their home equity and continue living in their home. Federal law requires that anyone considering the FHA Home Equity Conversion Mortgage must receive counseling from a government-approved agency. NCOA is one of nine groups approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to provide this service.

NCOA reverse mortgage counselors do not sell any products. They work with seniors to weigh the pros and cons of a reverse mortgage to decide if this option is right for their situation. NCOA counselors also identify benefits and other supportive community services that can help older adults pay for basic necessities and remain independent in their homes as long as possible.

There is a $90 upfront fee for this service. Depending on available funding, NCOA will:

  • Waive the $90 counseling fee for a limited number of older adults who are facing financial hardships such as foreclosure or bankruptcy, who are using respite care, or whose monthly income is less than $1,000.
  • Allow a limited number of older adults to pay at closing if their monthly income is less than 200% of the federal poverty level ($1,945 for single homeowners and $2,621 for couples).

"Thousands of older homeowners use counseling to decide if a reverse mortgage is right for them," said Amy Ford, NCOA's director of home equity initiatives. "We're proud to offer this service as a way to help seniors achieve lasting economic security and independence."

Reverse mortgage counseling is one of several resources that NCOA provides seniors to improve their economic security. Other free online tools include EconomicCheckUp (www.benefitscheckup.org/esi-home), which helps with budgeting, debt reduction, and employment; BenefitsCheckUp (www.benefitscheckup.org), which screens for thousands of public and private benefits programs; and My Medicare Matters (www.mymedicarematters.org), an educational site that helps people make the most of their Medicare coverage.

Source: The National Council on Aging (www.ncoa.org) is a nonprofit service and advocacy organization whose mission is to improve the lives of millions of older adults, especially those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged. NCOA is a national voice for older Americans and the community organizations that serve them, and works with thousands of organizations across the country to help seniors find jobs and benefits, improve their health, live independently, and remain active in their communities.