Reverse Mortgage Financial Assessment

What Is a Reverse Mortgage Financial Assessment?

A reverse mortgage financial assessment is a review of the borrower’s credit history, employment history, debts, and income during the reverse mortgage application process. The current reverse mortgage financial assessment requirement became effective in 2015. During the reverse mortgage financial assessment, lenders examine all of the borrower’s sources of income, such as Social Security, pensions and other retirement accounts, and investments.

It was introduced after years of problems with borrowers being unable to afford to stay current on their property tax and homeowners insurance bills. As a result, borrowers were losing their homes to foreclosure, and lenders were filing insurance claims with the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to cover their losses on these loans. The reverse mortgage financial assessment is intended to prevent this problem from occurring.

Key Takeaways

  • A reverse mortgage financial assessment is a review of the borrower’s credit history, employment history, debts, and income during the reverse mortgage application process.
  • During the reverse mortgage financial assessment, lenders examine all of the borrower’s sources of income, such as Social Security, pensions and other retirement accounts, and investments.
  • The financial assessment is intended to prevent borrowers from being unable to afford to stay current on their property tax and homeowners insurance bills, which would result in losing their homes to foreclosure.

How a Reverse Mortgage Financial Assessment Works

A reverse mortgage doesn’t require the borrower to make monthly mortgage payments as with a traditional, or forward, mortgage; instead, the borrower receives a monthly payment from the lender. Also, unlike a traditional mortgage, a reverse mortgage does not require the borrower to qualify based on their credit score and current income. Instead, reverse mortgage approval is based on the borrower’s age, the loan’s interest rate, having a small or zero mortgage balance, not being in debt to the Federal government, and the property’s physical condition and appraised value.

A reverse mortgage is available only to people age 62 and older. Such people may no longer be working and have limited income from Social Security, a pension, an employer-sponsored retirement account, or an individual retirement account (IRA). The purpose of the financial assessment is to make sure the borrower can afford ongoing homeowners insurance and property tax payments on that limited income. Borrowers must provide certain documents, such as tax returns and bank account statements, as part of the process.

A financial assessment that reveals insufficient income or assets or a history of paying bills late doesn’t necessarily mean the borrower won’t be approved for a reverse mortgage. For example, if the credit check reveals past problems in paying bills on time, the borrower will be given an opportunity to explain. If a pattern of credit problems emerges, the lender will ultimately determine if the credit problems were due to extenuating circumstances.

Mortgage lending discrimination is illegal. If you think you've been discriminated against based on race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, familial status, disability, marital status, actual or perceived sexual orientation, source of income, or gender identity, there are steps you can take. One such step is to file a report with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

A Life Expectancy Set-Aside

If the financial assessment reveals problems, the lender may require the borrower to establish what is known as a “life expectancy set-aside.” This is a type of escrow account that is funded from the borrower’s reverse mortgage proceeds.

The assessment determines the amount of money that the borrower must set aside to pay property taxes, insurance, and other required charges. The amount will reduce the loan proceeds available to the borrower. However, not all borrowers will have these ongoing costs—such as flood insurance, homeowners association fees, and mortgage servicing fees—for the expected duration of their loan.

What Is a Reverse Mortgage Financial Assessment?

A reverse mortgage financial assessment reviews a potential borrower’s financial situation, including credit history, employment history, debts, and income, to make sure that the borrower can afford to pay the ongoing costs of maintaining their property while receiving reverse mortgage payments.

What Is the Reason for the Reverse Mortgage Financial Assessment

Too many people with reverse mortgages were finding themselves unable to keep up with the ongoing costs of homeowners insurance and property taxes. This was causing excessive amounts of foreclosures on homes to lenders. The assessment was created to solve the problem.

Does a Bad Credit History Prevent You From Getting a Reverse Mortgage?

Not necessarily. The financial assessment will take into account extenuating circumstances that caused debts, but you must be prepared to make a convincing case during the assessment.

Article Sources

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