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Reverse mortgage image on pros and cons of reverse mortgage post on www.drgeorgenecollins.comIf you are thinking about retiring from nursing, you might be considering income streams.  One financial tool that can be used to supplement retirement income is a reverse mortgage.  But like any financial tool, it is important to make a well-informed decision before you use it.  In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of a reverse mortgage. We’ll review the basics and look at the benefits and risks to help you decide if a reverse mortgage aligns with your retirement goals.

Reverse Mortgage Basics

Before we explore the pros and cons of a reverse mortgage, let’s review the basics.  A reverse mortgage is a loan designed for homeowners aged 62 and older.  At least one owner must be 62 years old to qualify for a reverse mortgage in most cases.  The loan allows the borrower to turn part of their home equity into cash.  With a reverse mortgage, owners live in the home, but they do not make monthly payments.  The loan is repaid when the borrower no longer lives in the home.  The mortgage amount is based on the:

  • Age of the youngest borrower
  • Current interest rate
  • Appraised value or sale price if using the loan for a purchase and
  • Mortgage limits

In 2024, the mortgage limit is $1,149,825.


Pros of a Reverse Mortgage

Supplementing Income

Reverse mortgages allow you to convert your home’s equity into income.  Unlocking the equity in your home aims to provide a financial cushion to help cover expenses.  This newfound flexibility aims to help retirees who often face a reduced income.

Tax Free Income

The income received from a reverse mortgage is usually tax free. And this does not typically affect your Social Security or Medicare benefits.

No Monthly Payments

Unlike a traditional mortgage, you don’t make monthly payments on a reverse mortgage.  This can be a significant relief for retirees living on a fixed income.

Government Insured & Oversight

The federal government insures some reverse mortgages.  This aims to give the borrower an extra layer of protection.  One reverse mortgage, the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM), is available through an approved lender of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).  And government agencies like the FHA and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) actively oversee the reverse mortgage industry.  This helps ensure enforcement of standards and regulations to protect borrowers.

Flexible Payout Choices

A standout feature of a reverse mortgage is the flexibility of terms and payout choices.  Whether you prefer a lump sum, monthly installments, or a line of credit, the choice is yours. This adaptability caters to diverse financial needs.

Cons of Reverse Mortgages

While a reverse mortgage offers many benefits, it’s important to weigh them against the potential drawbacks.  Let’s explore some risks of a reverse mortgage.

Fees, Expenses, and Interest Rates

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Reverse mortgages come with higher fees and expenses than traditional mortgages.  Origination, ongoing servicing, and counseling fees are a few examples.  And these fees are in addition to closing costs.  And most reverse mortgages have variable interest rates.  This means the amount owed can grow over time as interest accumulates.

Reduction in Home Equity

While a reverse mortgage unlocks home equity, it also has the potential to reduce it over time.  Accrued interest and housing market swings can impact the overall value of your home.  As you receive payments from a reverse mortgage, the equity in your home decreases.  But interest and fees accumulate monthly.  This causes the balance to grow.  The loan is usually repaid when the house is sold.  But the loan balance may reduce the net sale of your home.  This can limit your choices for future housing, such as moving into an assisted living facility.

Ongoing Responsibilities

Borrowers still need to pay property taxes, insurance, and maintain the home.  And failure to keep up with these obligations can lead to immediate repayment.

Impact on Inheritance

A reverse mortgage can impact the inheritance you leave for your heirs. The loan, with accrued interest, must be repaid when the owner leaves the home, either on death or sale.  This can decrease the assets in your estate.  Something to consider if legacy is important to you.

Scams and Predatory Lending

Borrowers should be cautious of scams and predatory lending practices. Educating oneself about how reverse mortgages work is important to avoid financial harm.  While the federal government regulates the industry, they do not insure all reverse mortgages.  Some private lenders offer proprietary reverse mortgage loans which are not federally insured.  And not all lenders are ethical.  Warning signs of these unethical lenders might include hidden fees, aggressive sales tactics, and misleading information.


Before taking out a reverse mortgage, you must receive counseling from a Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) approved counselor.  And the counseling service may charge a fee.


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In conclusion, the pros and cons of a reverse mortgage are significant. Reverse mortgages can be a useful financial tool for some retired nurses by providing cash from your home equity. But they are complex financial products with significant implications to consider.  By understanding the intricacies of reverse mortgages, nurses can make informed decisions aligned with their unique financial goals. It’s essential to weigh your goals against the pros and cons of a reverse mortgage.  If you’re unsure, consider speaking with a Financial Advisor to give you personalized guidance.  Because a reverse mortgage is a long-term commitment, it’s important to understand the terms and conditions before signing the contract.

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Georgene Collins

Georgene Collins, RICP®, RN, PhD, MBA is a registered nurse turned Financial Advisor at Airey Financial Group. Georgene helps other nurses take control of their finances and prepare for retirement. Georgene began her career with Airey Financial Group in 2017 after retiring from 30 years in healthcare. Georgene holds the Retirement Income Certified Professional (RICP®) designation from The American College of Financial Services. She holds health and life insurance licenses and a long-term care certificate in Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin. Georgene is a Registered Representative and Investment Advisor Representative and has earned the FINRA Series 63 and 65 registrations.