How to get out of a reverse mortgage
Reverse mortgages are a little like quicksand—easy to fall into but much more difficult to escape.
If you find yourself sinking and wondering how to get out of a reverse mortgage, you'll be relieved to hear that you’ve got options.
First, if you’ve been swayed by an infomercial or other piece of marketing about reverse mortgages, take comfort knowing that you’re not alone.
The volume of reverse mortgage direct mail advertising has been on the rise, and in 2021 and 2022 the increase was dramatic.
In fact, companies sent 48 million direct mail ads to consumers in 2022, up from 44 million in 2021 — a fourfold increase compared with the prior two years.
Read on to learn why you may want to reverse a reverse mortgage and what your options are.
What is a reverse mortgage?
If you’ve already got a reverse mortgage, you know what one is. But if you've just seen the ads, you might be wondering.
As the name suggests, a reverse mortgage is the opposite of a traditional mortgage. Instead of the homeowner making payments to the lender, the lender issues payments to the homeowner commensurate with the amount of equity in the home.
As those payments to the homeowner are being made, the equity in the home decreases and fees and interest continue to accrue. It's no wonder many people are trying to figure out how to get out of a reverse mortgage.
A reverse mortgage is a loan designed for homeowners who are 62 years of age or older looking to access, as tax-free income, part of the equity they’ve built up in their home. Usually more than most retirement plans will allow.
It can help pay for things like costly repairs and medical expenses, or provide another revenue stream when retirement income falls short.
Often, borrowers have already paid off their mortgages and their homes are free and clear, so taking out one of these loans may involve risk to them.
The homeowner continues to live in the home, but eventually they will have to pay the piper—when they move, sell the house, or pass away.
Reasons to get out of a reverse mortgage
There are many reasons a homeowner might want to reverse a reverse mortgage. A few possibilities include:
- Moving into an assisted living facility
- Having regrets
- Reverse mortgage payments are too low
- Estate planning reasons
- Your situation has changed and you are now sharing the home with someone else
- You are no longer desperate for the funds provided the reverse mortgage
Ways you can get out of a reverse mortgage
Here are five fool-proof tips that will put you on the right track.
Take advantage of your right of rescission
A right of rescission is one way you can get out of a reverse mortgage, but only if certain criteria are met.
A right of rescission is a three-day period that begins when you sign on the dotted line and is designed to protect the consumer in the event of buyer’s remorse.
If you are still within the three-day window, contact your lender in writing to let them know you would like to exercise your right of rescission.
They will have 20 days to return any funds to you, the borrower. So if almost immediately after signing you find yourself asking, "How do I get out of a reverse mortgage," this is the simplest, no-strings way to do it.
Buy out a reverse mortgage
Another option is to buy out a reverse mortgage. If you’ve got the funds in a savings account or some other investment vehicle, you can pay off the reverse mortgage in addition to any interest.
If paying off the loan in a lump sum will cramp your lifestyle, you may be able to arrange a monthly payment plan with the lender so you can pay it back over time while you continue to live in the house.
Although it might mean you’ll need to restructure your budget, buying out the loan is yet another way to get out of a reverse mortgage.
Put your house on the market
While this may not have been in your original plan, selling your house is another option to help you get out of a reverse mortgage. Once you find a buyer and it’s a done deal, direct the proceeds from the sale toward repaying the lender.
Selling the house could leave you with some cash leftover if the amount you owe is less than the sale price, and that could help you get settled in a new home.
Refinance a reverse mortgage
While it might not get you out of a reverse mortgage completely, you could refinance your loan for one with more attractive terms.
This tactic could make sense if you anticipate being able to qualify for a lower interest rate. And if your home has risen in value, you might be able to secure a larger amount than the refinanced reverse mortgage.
Take out a conventional loan
Yet another refinancing option is to replace the reverse mortgage with a conventional loan. This could be a good option if you no longer need the income that the reverse mortgage provided and if monthly payments on the new mortgage won’t break the bank.
If maintaining the equity you’ve built up in your home is now a priority, a conventional loan could do the trick, and how to get out of a reverse mortgage at the same time.
If you are among the homeowners who have taken out a reverse mortgage, you don’t have to live with it for the rest of your life.
Now that you know getting out of a reverse mortgage is possible, you’ve just got to find the strategy that is best for you.
Ideally, you still have the right of rescission. But if that ship has sailed, you can decide to buy out a reverse mortgage, sell your home, refinance, or take a different tack.
With so many options, you should readily be able to find a way to free yourself of a reverse mortgage.