How to Get a Reverse Mortgage

Three Methods:Qualifying for a Reverse MortgageApplying for a Reverse MortgageClosing on a Reverse Mortgage

A reverse mortgage is a loan that older homeowners can take advantage of to access the equity in their homes to be used as collateral while they continue living there. Most reverse mortgages do not have to be paid back until the homeowners move out of the home or they pass away, at which point the estate pays back the loan. About 99 percent of reverse mortgages are Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) is offered by private lenders but insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). Get a reverse mortgage by making sure you qualify, meeting with a lender to fill out the application and closing on the loan.

Method 1
Qualifying for a Reverse Mortgage

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    Wait until you are 62 years of age. This is the age requirement for a reverse mortgage set by the FHA.
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    Make sure you have sufficient equity in your home. Most reverse mortgages are done when the home loan is already paid off. However, if the amount you still owe can be completely paid off with the reverse mortgage, you may still qualify.
    • Take advantage of a reverse mortgage calculator if you are not sure whether you qualify. You can find one at or on financial sites such as Bankrate.
    • Have your house appraised. This will help you determine how much equity you have in the property.
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    Demonstrate that the home is your primary residence. You must prove that you reside there at least 183 days out of the year, and each year after you receive your loan, you will need to sign an Annual Occupancy Certificate.
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    Consider a Proprietary Reverse Mortgage if you do not qualify for a HECM. These are also called "jumbo" reverse mortgages because the lending limits are higher and they are not insured by the FHA.

Method 2
Applying for a Reverse Mortgage

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    Find a lender who you trust to manage your reverse mortgage. You might want to choose someone you have worked with in the past on financing, or a professional who is highly reputable and comes recommended.
    • Remember that you are not required to purchase any other lending products from the lender you are using for a reverse mortgage. If a lender requires you to buy an annuity or insurance products in order to get a reverse mortgage, report that person to the FHA or the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA).
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    Fill out the application. Most lenders will provide a paper application or allow you to complete it online.
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    Attend a counseling session. A lender cannot give you a reverse mortgage unless you have a valid HECM Counseling Certificate.
    • Check with your state rules on when you need to complete the counseling session. Some states will allow you to participate either before or after the application is submitted, but other states specify when you must do it.
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    Hire an FHA-approved appraiser to provide an appraisal of your property. You might have already had an appraisal to determine the amount of equity you have in your home, but a new appraisal needs to be ordered once the application is in process.
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    Wait for the underwriting to be complete. This can sometimes take up to 30 days. The lender will conduct a title search and check for liens or other issues that might challenge your ownership of the house.

Method 3
Closing on a Reverse Mortgage

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    Schedule a closing date with your lender once the loan is "clear to close," which means all underwriting and financials are in place and your application has been approved.
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    Meet with an attorney or a notary on the date of closing to have all the paperwork reviewed and notarized.
    • Check the documentation. Make sure the interest rate, loan amount, fees and terms of repayment are what you and the lender had previously discussed and agreed on.
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    Sign the paperwork and wait for your check. Most lenders will cut you a check immediately or send it to you by overnight mail. You can often choose between a lump sum or regular payments over a period of time.
    • Ask about payment to your mortgage company if part of the reverse mortgage will be going to pay off your existing mortgage. The lender should get a check to them immediately as well.


  • Make sure you discuss your reverse mortgage with your children or other heirs. They will be responsible for selling the home or paying off the reverse mortgage with a new mortgage if they decide to keep the home.

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Categories: Mortgages and Loans