Reverse mortgages are for seniors 62 and older, including married couples, and were once considered a life line. Times have changed, and now reverse mortgages are regularly being incorporated into retirement planning. But refinance a reverse mortgage? It’s not something you hear about often, or maybe you don’t even realize it’s an option. And why would someone want to do this? Well, here are some fast facts:
Who might want to refinance:
• In the case of a remarriage, possibly you want to add the new spouse (note: new borrowers added must be 62 or older).
• Or in the case of divorce, you want to remove a spouse.
• If the housing market has improved drastically, like we’re currently seeing all over the Seattle area, maybe you want to tap into the new equity.
• Better interest rates? Just like with a traditional mortgage, this matters.
• Interested in the Line of Credit option but took out the monthly installments? Then refinance may be for you.
What you need to know:
• The process is similar to that of a traditional mortgage refinance, except you will still be able to live mortgage and loan payment free.
• You will need a new appraisal.
• Some older lenders have exited the reverse mortgage industry, such as Wells Fargo and Bank of America. If you currently have your loan with one of these lenders, you’re not out of luck, you can still refinance through an existing lender.
• You can shop around. You are not stuck with your current lender.
• If your previous reverse mortgage was not FHA insured, you can switch to one that is. The FHA insurance offers consumer protections, including the promise that you’ll never owe more than your home is worth at the time the loan comes due.
• You will need to take part in third party reverse mortgage counseling.
• If you received your reverse mortgage before 2015, be aware some of the requirements have changed. Now income and credit does play a factor, although there are options if you fail to meet the new criteria.
• If you’re not sure you want to stay in the home, refinancing may not be the best move. Instead possibly consider selling the home to pay back the existing reverse mortgage, then look at a Reverse Mortgage for Purchase to downsize or move to a more suitable home.
• After the refinance, the borrower will still be responsible for property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and other related costs to the home such as HOA fees, upkeep, and utilities.
Janis Layman is a Reverse Mortgage Specialist serving the Seattle, Lynnwood, Edmonds, and Shoreline areas of Washington. Contact Janis and learn if reverse mortgage is right for you.