Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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Can I use a reverse mortgage to buy a new home?

Certainly! A reverse mortgage, specifically designed for homeowners aged 62 and older, allows them to access the equity in their home without the need to sell it. While reverse mortgages are commonly associated with providing supplemental income during retirement, paying for home improvements, or covering healthcare expenses, an often-overlooked aspect is their potential use in purchasing a new home. This concept is facilitated through a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage for Purchase (HECM for Purchase) program, allowing seniors to buy a new home that better suits their needs without taking on a traditional mortgage payment.

Understanding Reverse Mortgages and HECM for Purchase

A reverse mortgage is a financial product that enables homeowners to borrow against the equity in their home. Instead of making monthly payments to a lender, as with a traditional mortgage, the homeowner receives payments from the lender. The loan balance increases over time as interest on the loan accumulates and is not repaid until the home is sold or the borrower passes away or permanently moves out.

The HECM for Purchase program, introduced in 2009, extends the reverse mortgage concept to the purchase of a new home. It allows seniors to combine the proceeds from the sale of their previous residence with funds from a reverse mortgage to buy their next home outright, or to contribute a significant down payment without the requirement of monthly mortgage payments thereafter. This can be particularly appealing for retirees looking to downsize, relocate closer to family, or move into homes that better accommodate their physical needs.

How Does It Work?

To use a reverse mortgage for buying a new home, the process involves several key steps:

  1. Selling the Current Home: The homeowner sells their current property. The proceeds from this sale can then be applied towards the purchase of the new home.
  2. Choosing a Suitable Home: The new home must be eligible for the HECM for Purchase program. It must be the borrower’s primary residence and meet all FHA property standards and flood requirements.
  3. Down Payment: The buyer must provide a down payment for the new home. This down payment typically comes from the equity gained from the sale of the previous home. The amount of the down payment varies depending on the borrower’s age, the new home’s value, and current interest rates.
  4. Financing the Purchase: Instead of financing the purchase with a traditional mortgage, the buyer uses a reverse mortgage. The amount that can be borrowed with a reverse mortgage depends on several factors, including the youngest borrower’s age, the home’s appraised value, and current interest rates.

Benefits of Using a Reverse Mortgage to Buy a New Home

  • No Monthly Mortgage Payments: One of the most significant benefits is the elimination of monthly mortgage payments, though the homeowner is still responsible for property taxes, insurance, and maintenance.
  • Flexibility: It offers flexibility in terms of the type of home you can purchase, including single-family homes, FHA-approved condominiums, and manufactured homes that meet FHA requirements.
  • Financial Planning Tool: It can be a strategic financial planning tool, allowing seniors to preserve other retirement assets or defer Social Security benefits.
  • Lifestyle and Location: Enables retirees to move to homes that better suit their lifestyle, whether that means moving closer to family, downsizing, or moving into a more accessible home.

Considerations and Risks

  • Fees and Closing Costs: HECM for Purchase loans come with upfront and ongoing costs, including origination fees, upfront mortgage insurance premiums, and appraisal fees, which can be significant.
  • Loan Repayment: The loan must be repaid when the last surviving borrower dies, sells the home, or no longer lives in the home as a primary residence. This could potentially affect the homeowner’s estate and any inheritance planned for heirs.
  • Impact on Government Benefits: Proceeds from a reverse mortgage could affect eligibility for government assistance programs such as Medicaid.


Using a reverse mortgage to buy a new home can be a smart strategy for some seniors, offering them a way to relocate or downsize without the burden of monthly mortgage payments. However, it’s essential to thoroughly understand the product, including its costs and implications for personal finances and estate planning. Consulting with a financial advisor and a reverse mortgage counselor can provide valuable guidance to determine if this approach aligns with one’s retirement goals and financial situation.

“Also, read our article on How to Transfer Ownership of a House with a Mortgage for valuable insights into navigating the complexities of transferring property ownership while managing existing mortgage obligations. Gain clarity on legal procedures, financial considerations, and expert tips to streamline the process effectively.”

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