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What is a HECM reverse mortgage?

A HECM reverse mortgage is a special type of home loan that lets senior homeowners, 62 years or older, convert a portion of the equity in their home into cash.

The product, known as a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) or Reverse Mortgage, was conceived as a means to help retirees with limited income use the accumulated wealth in their homes to cover basic monthly living expenses and pay for health care. However, there is no restriction how reverse mortgage proceeds are used.

The loan is called a reverse mortgage because instead of making monthly payments to a lender, as with a traditional mortgage, the lender makes payments to the borrower.  However, unlike a traditional home equity loan or second mortgage, reverse mortgage borrowers do not have to repay the HECM loan until the borrowers no longer use the home as their principal residence or fail to meet the obligations of the mortgage (including maintaining the property condition, paying property taxes, insurance and condominium fees if applicable). 

You can also use a HECM to purchase a primary residence if you are able to use cash on hand to pay the difference between the HECM proceeds and the sales price plus closing costs for the property you are purchasing.

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