Reverse Mortgage Requirements

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ByChristopher Boston
Edited byVictoria Copans
ByChristopher Boston
Edited byVictoria Copans

Updated: October 23, 2023

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A reverse mortgage allows homeowners aged 62 or older to tap into their home equity without selling their property. It can be a great option if you're retired or need extra cash for expenses. A reverse mortgage calculator can give you a quick idea of how much you might be eligible to borrow, but that's just the starting point. If you're considering this financial tool, you need to understand all the eligibility requirements to make the most out of your loan. Some criteria, like age, property condition and financial assessments, make it unique from other mortgage types. Familiarizing yourself with these requirements will help you make an informed decision and confidently secure a reverse mortgage.

How Reverse Mortgages Work

A reverse mortgage is a unique loan designed for homeowners 62 years old or older. Unlike a traditional mortgage, where you make monthly payments to a lender, a reverse mortgage pays you. It allows you to convert part of your home equity into cash, providing extra funds for retirement, medical bills or home improvements. You'll still own your home, but you'll be receiving money from a lender.

When it comes to repaying the loan, you're not on the hook for monthly payments. Loan repayment begins when you move, sell the home or pass away. However, keep an eye on current reverse mortgage rates because they can affect how much you owe over time. You'll also have to account for fees like closing costs, insurance premiums and servicing fees, which could add to the loan balance.

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If you're thinking about a reverse mortgage but are unsure about the numbers, a reverse mortgage calculator can be helpful. It lets you estimate the loan amount you might be eligible for based on your age, home value and existing mortgage balance to help you decide whether a reverse mortgage aligns with your financial goals.

Age Requirements

Understanding the reverse mortgage age requirements is key to determining your eligibility. The baseline age for eligibility is 62 since reverse mortgages primarily aim to help retirees tap into the home equity they've accumulated. The age requirement also applies to everyone listed on the loan, such as spouses and co-borrowers.

Your age also influences how much you can borrow. Generally, the older you are, the more home equity you can convert into cash. Overlooking these age guidelines could cost you time and a missed opportunity to bolster your financial security.

Equity Requirements

The reverse mortgage equity requirements directly impact whether you can get the loan and how much you can borrow. You usually need at least 50% equity in your home to qualify. This assures lenders that if you sell your home, there's enough value to pay off the loan. Your equity also determines the loan amount — more equity means a bigger loan.

If you're short on home equity, here are some strategies to consider to help make you eligible for better loan terms:

  • Make Extra Payments: Rather than sticking to the minimum monthly payments, contribute a little extra towards your mortgage when possible. It reduces your loan balance faster and helps you build equity more quickly without waiting for the property's value to increase.

  • Home Improvement: Consider home improvements that add real value, like a renovated kitchen or an added bathroom. These can make your home worth more in the real estate market, effectively increasing your equity. Just make sure the potential increase in home value justifies the cost of improvement.

  • Refinance: Refinancing your mortgage at a lower interest rate can allow you to switch to a shorter loan term. While this might increase your monthly payments, you'll build equity faster because a greater portion of your payment will go toward the loan principal rather than interest.

  • Reduce Debt: If you have the opportunity, use a windfall like a tax refund or bonus to make a lump-sum payment towards your mortgage. This increases your home equity by reducing your overall loan balance.

  • Wait: Property values tend to rise over time, albeit with market fluctuations. By maintaining your property well and waiting, you could see a natural increase in value and, consequently, your equity.

Missing the mark on equity can lead to unfortunate scenarios. For instance, if you owe more on your home than it's currently worth, that lack of equity could be a deal-breaker. Alternatively, a decline in property values in your area might mean you can borrow less than expected. Being aware of reverse mortgage equity requirements willelp you navigate these potential challenges effectively.

Property Requirements

Besides equity, your property’s type and condition also play pivotal roles in meeting reverse mortgage requirements. We’ll explore two factors: property eligibility and property condition and maintenance. The former concerns what kinds of homes qualify for a reverse mortgage, while the latter focuses on what standards your home must meet to be approved.

Property Eligibility

Generally, single-family homes and 2–4 unit properties with one unit occupied by the borrower qualify for reverse mortgages. Condominiums that are FHA-approved can also be eligible. In most cases, the property has to be in the United States to qualify.

Regarding size restrictions, the minimum square footage requirement is around 400 square feet for a single-family home. This varies by lender, so it's important to check the specifics.

Lastly, the property should be your primary residence to qualify for a reverse mortgage. That means you must live there for most of the year, essentially ruling out any second homes or rental properties you might own — vacation homes and commercial spaces are not eligible.

Property Condition and Maintenance

The condition of your property contributes to curb appeal, but it also plays a crucial role in the reverse mortgage process. Lenders want assurance that they're investing in a property that holds its value, which is where reverse mortgage appraisal requirements come in. An appraiser must assess the home's condition and market value, and the higher the valuation, the more money you could get from the loan.

Here are some actionable steps that could result in a successful appraisal:

  • Make Pre-Appraisal Repairs: Fix any visible issues that could lower your home's value. That includes patching holes in the wall, fixing broken tiles and addressing water stains.

  • Focus on Curb Appeal: First impressions count. Mow the lawn, paint the fence and do whatever else it takes to make your home look appealing at first glance.

  • Keep Documentation: Keep records of all upgrades, repairs and maintenance, which can give the appraiser context and positively affect your home's valuation.

  • Be Present: Being there during the appraisal can be beneficial. You can quickly address any questions the appraiser has, making the process smoother and possibly more favorable.

  • Conduct a Comparative Market Analysis: Before the appraisal, research comparable properties that have recently sold in your area. This can give you an idea of how your home might be valued and where you can make improvements.

Being proactive can go a long way in meeting reverse mortgage appraisal requirements. These steps will help you speed up the process and potentially increase the loan amount you're eligible for.

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An appraisal and a home inspection serve different purposes, especially when you're considering a reverse mortgage. An appraisal determines the market value of your home and is a required step in the process. A home inspection isn't mandatory but can be beneficial. The inspector dives deeper into the structural integrity of the home, checking things like plumbing, electrical systems and the roof. They provide a detailed report, which can help you proactively address issues that could affect the appraisal or long-term condition of your home.

Financial Assessments

Financial requirements can vary depending on the type of reverse mortgage you're considering. With a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM), which is federally insured, the focus isn't just on your income but also on your credit history and ability to meet ongoing financial obligations, including property taxes, homeowners insurance and maintenance costs.

Proprietary reverse mortgages, also known as private or jumbo reverse mortgages, are backed by private companies and may have different financial requirements. They might be more flexible regarding income sources and focus more on the amount of home equity you have. However, private lenders may still want proof of a stable income to ensure you can cover property costs.

Understanding the distinctions in financial requirements between HECM and proprietary reverse mortgages can help you better prepare for the lender's assessment and choose the most suitable loan for your situation. Missing the mark on these financial checks could slow down your loan process or disqualify you altogether.

Counseling Requirements

Reverse mortgage counseling requirements ensure you fully understand the loan you're considering. The counselor you'll meet is trained to guide you through the nuances of a reverse mortgage, including costs, eligibility and your financial obligations.

During counseling, you'll discuss topics like how to manage your loan proceeds, implications for your estate and potential alternatives to a reverse mortgage. All of these are key to making an informed decision. To find an approved counseling agency, use the provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) search tool or ask your lender for recommendations. After completing counseling, you'll receive a certificate that you'll need to move forward with the application process.

Alternatives to a Reverse Mortgage

Not qualifying for a reverse mortgage is not the end of your financial journey — it's a chance to explore other avenues that might be more suitable for your needs and life circumstances. From refinancing your current mortgage to renting out a room in your home, various strategies could still give you the financial boost you're seeking. Explore these alternatives to reverse mortgages and weigh their benefits and drawbacks so you make an informed decision.


Can lower your monthly payments or possibly shorten your loan term, and you may also get better interest rates

Involves closing costs, which could be hefty, and you must meet income and credit score requirements

Provides a lump-sum payment with a fixed interest rate, so you know exactly what you'll owe each month

Your home serves as collateral, so there's a risk of losing it, and you'll need a good credit score to qualify

Offers flexible access to funds and you only pay interest on what you use; good for ongoing expenses

Interest rates are often variable, making costs unpredictable, and your home is used as collateral

Sell Your Home or Downsize

Gives you immediate access to the home’s equity as cash, and a smaller home could mean lower utility bills

Involves moving costs, and leaving a family home can be emotionally challenging

Sell Off Other Assets

Quick way to generate cash without taking on debt, and you could capitalize on high market values if selling investments

You'll lose ownership of the asset, and depending on the asset, there might be tax consequences

These alternatives to a reverse mortgage come with benefits and drawbacks. Deciding on the best option is all about balancing your immediate needs with your long-term financial health, whether it's tapping into home equity differently, making adjustments to your assets or even changing where you live.


We addressed some of the most pressing questions about reverse mortgage requirements, from qualification criteria to repayment timelines. You can use this information to make sounder financial decisions.

What do you need to qualify for a reverse mortgage?
When can you apply for a reverse mortgage?
How much can you receive from a reverse mortgage?
What's the most popular type of reverse mortgage?
Can you take out multiple reverse mortgages?
What are the costs associated with a reverse mortgage?
How is reverse mortgage money distributed?
When do you need to repay a reverse mortgage?
Can you lose your home due to a reverse mortgage?

About Christopher Boston

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Christopher (Croix) Boston was the Head of Loans content at MoneyGeek, with over five years of experience researching higher education, mortgage and personal loans.

Boston has a bachelor's degree from the Seattle Pacific University. They pride themselves in using their skills and experience to create quality content that helps people save and spend efficiently.