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5 questions to ask before considering a reverse mortgage

1. Do you really need a reverse mortgage?

Why are you interested in these loans? What would you do with the money you would get from one? Are the needs you intend to meet really worth the high total cost of these loans? If you want to take a dream vacation, a reverse mortgage is a very expensive way to pay for it. Investing the money from these loans is an especially bad idea, because the loan is highly likely to cost more than you could safely earn. If anyone is trying to sell you something and recommending you use a reverse mortgage to pay for it, that’s generally a good sign that you don’t need it and shouldn’t be buying it.

2. Can you afford a reverse mortgage?

These loans are very expensive, and the amount you owe grows larger every month. The younger you are when you take out a reverse mortgage, the more the compound interest will grow, and the more you will owe. On the other hand, due to high up-front costs, these loans can be especially costly if you sell and move just a few years after taking one out.

3. Can you afford to start using up your home equity now?

The more you use now, the less you will have later when you may need it more, for example, to pay for emergencies, health care needs, or everyday living expenses. This is especially true if your needs suddenly grow or your income does not keep pace with inflation. You may also need your equity to pay for future home repairs or a move to assisted living. If you are not facing a financial emergency now, then consider postponing a reverse mortgage. Homeowners who decide to wait have “a reasonable expectation of securing a better product at a lower cost in the not-too-distant future,” according to a report by the Fidelity Research Institute.

4. Do you have less-costly options?

Do you have other financial resources that you could use instead of taking out a loan? If you don’t, and if you could easily make the monthly repayments on a home equity loan or home equity line-of-credit, these alternatives are much less costly than a reverse mortgage. Many state and local governments offer very low-cost loans for paying your property taxes or making home repairs. Have you seriously looked into the costs and benefits of selling your home and moving to a less expensive one?

5. Do you fully understand how these loans work?

Reverse mortgages are quite different from any other loans, and the risks to borrowers are unique. Before considering one, you need to do your homework carefully and thoroughly.

Source: AARP Foundation

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