finances

How Much Equity Do You Need For a Reverse Mortgage?

Tom BurchnellReviewed by

If you’re approaching retirement, your goal is to ensure your long-term financial health while actually enjoying your golden years. But if much of your wealth is bound up in your house, you might feel like you’re “house rich cash poor.” Luckily,  anyone in the age bracket of 62 and up is potentially eligible for a reverse mortgage.

Let’s back up for a moment. What is a reverse mortgage program? In short, it’s a way to exchange some of the equity in your home for cash without selling your home. You’ll withdraw funds from your equity each month while adding to the mortgage balance or loan balance. Loan payments will not be due until you sell the home or pass away.

You as the borrower, may be wondering, how much equity do I need for a reverse mortgage? Below, we’ll delve into the requirement for a reverse mortgage and other home equity alternative options for homeowners looking to unlock their home’s equity.

What Percentage of Equity is Required for a Reverse Mortgage?

Although there is no hard and fast number, it’s suggested you have at least 50% equity in your home before taking out a reverse mortgage.

Equity is the amount of money your home is worth presently, minus any loans taken out against your home equity. For example, if your home is currently valued at $400,000 and you owe $200,000 on your traditional mortgage, you have 50% equity. 

These other factors also go into answering the question, how much equity do you need for a reverse mortgage? Keep in mind the following constraints:

  • Other liens and mortgages – If you as a prospective reverse mortgage borrower have any other loans against your home—for example, a home equity loan, a HELOC, or a second mortgage—be sure to subtract these from your total home value to get a clear picture of your equity.
  • Reverse mortgage fees – Your equity should also cover any fees associated with taking out a reverse mortgage.
  • Property taxes – You may need to set aside additional funds for future property taxes to qualify for the reverse mortgage loan.

So can you get a reverse mortgage with bad credit? Thankfully, unlike a traditional mortgage, a reverse mortgage is based primarily on home equity—not on factors like credit score. However, it’s important to understand the other ways a prospective reverse mortgage lender will evaluate your application.

What Are The Income Requirements For a Reverse Mortgage?

One of the most misunderstood reverse mortgage facts is that there aren’t any income requirements for a reverse mortgage.

Unlike a traditional mortgage, a reverse mortgage doesn’t depend on you making any monthly payment.

However, you will be expected to demonstrate that you are financially able and willing to fulfill all of your loan commitments, such as: 

  • Property taxes
  • Homeowners insurance
  • Standard home maintenance and repairs

Proof of your ability could take the form of income or adequate retirement savings.

Convert your Home Equity to Cash

Can You Be Turned Down For a Reverse Mortgage?

Although reverse mortgages are based primarily on home equity, having 50% equity in your home is not the only criteria for qualification. 

Reverse mortgages have strict guidelines that need to be followed. You must meet the following requirements to avoid being turned down:

  • Age – You must be at least 62 years old.
  • Primary residence – The property you are taking a reverse mortgage out on must be your primary residence.
  • Federal debt – You cannot be negligent on any federal loans you’ve taken out. 
  • Property type – HCEM (Home Equity Conversion Mortgage) requires that your home be one of the following:
  • Single-family home
  • Owner-occupied property with 2-4 units 
  • Condominium
  • Manufactured home 
  • Counseling  – Before applying for a reverse mortgage, the FHA (Federal Housing Administration) requires you to get counseling services from an approved housing counseling agency.

As mentioned above, you are also obligated to keep up with payments on your property taxes, homeowners insurance, utilities, and standard home maintenance and repairs. If you can’t make these equal monthly payments, you can be disqualified for the reverse mortgage loan.

Reverse Mortgage in Retirement Years 

Since 62 is the minimum age requirement for taking out a reverse mortgage, retirees are often the ones utilizing these loans. Retirees may even own their homes outright after paying off the traditional mortgage or regular mortgage on the home they raised their family in. Younger seniors, however, may be looking at reverse mortgages to cover their existing regular mortgage or to help them pay off debt. 

Converting some of your home’s equity into cash is a way to avoid dipping into retirement savings or a nest egg. 

Money from a reverse mortgage can be used to pay for: 

  • Medical bills
  • Home improvements
  • Everyday expenses 
  • Payments on high-interest debt

In short, reverse mortgages are used for urgent needs. However, keep in mind that a reverse mortgage may not be a great option for retirees who’d like to leave their home as an inheritance. Likewise, it’s not ideal for those who are hoping to profit from the sale of their home.

Luckily, there are alternatives to a reverse mortgage.

EasyKnock: An Innovative Alternative to a Reverse Mortgage

Now that you’ve learned how much equity is needed for a reverse mortgage, you might be wondering if this is really the best option for you. We have good news: A reverse mortgage isn’t the only way to get cash from your home while staying put. For a more flexible home equity loan alternative, there’s EasyKnock.

At EasyKnock, we have programs that give you options and flexibility. Whether you’re looking for a short-term solution while you shop for your perfect retirement residence or you know you want to stay put for good, age is not a determining factor for our sale-leaseback programs. In fact, adults of any age can take advantage of our programs.

Our programs offer personalized solutions to meet your needs, empowering you, the homeowner. Work with EasyKnock to convert equity into cash, freeing up the money you need for whatever life brings your way. 

This article is published for educational and informational purposes only. This content is based on research and/or other relevant articles and contains trusted sources, but does not express the concerns of EasyKnock. Our goal at EasyKnock is to provide readers with up-to-date and objective resources on real estate and mortgage-related topics. Our content is written by experienced contributors in the finance and real-estate space and all articles undergo an in-depth review process.

Sources: 

  1. Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information. Reverse Mortgages. 
  2. www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0192-reverse-mortgages
  3. LendingTree. Disqualified For A Reverse Mortgage? What To Do. 
  4. www.lendingtree.com/home/reverse-mortgage/disqualified-for-a-reverse-mortgage/
  5. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. How the HECM Program Works. 
  6. www.hud.gov/program_offices/housing/sfh/hecm/hecmabou
  7. National Council on Aging. Get the Facts on Reverse Mortgages
    www.ncoa.org/article/get-the-facts-on-reverse-mortgages
Tom Burchnell
Product Marketing Director

Tom Burchnell, Director of Digital Product Marketing for EasyKnock, holds an MBA & BBA in Marketing from University of Georgia and has 6 years of experience in real estate and finance. In his previous work, he spent time working with one of the largest direct lenders in the SouthEast. 

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