Mortgages & Home Loans Using Your Home Equity Reverse Mortgage Requirements What to know about reverse mortgage qualifications By Terri Williams Terri Williams Twitter Website Terri Williams is an expert in mortgages, real estate, and home buying. As a journalist she's covered the "homes" corner of personal finance for more than a decade, with bylines in scores of publications, including Realtor.com, Bob Vila, Yahoo, Time/Next Advisor, The San Francisco Chronicle, Real Homes, and Apartment Therapy. learn about our editorial policies Updated on July 28, 2022 Reviewed by Doretha Clemon Reviewed by Doretha Clemon Doretha Clemons, Ph.D., MBA, PMP, has been a corporate IT executive and professor for 34 years. She is an adjunct professor at Connecticut State Colleges & Universities, Maryville University, and Indiana Wesleyan University. She is a Real Estate Investor and principal at Bruised Reed Housing Real Estate Trust, and a State of Connecticut Home Improvement License holder. learn about our financial review board Fact checked by Gina LaGuardia Fact checked by Gina LaGuardia Twitter Gina LaGuardia has more than 25 years of experience in senior editorial roles, and is an expert in personal finance topics, including banking and lending. She has created content for financial powerhouses such as Chase Bank, American Express Canada, First Horizon Bank, BBVA, and SoFi. learn about our editorial policies Share Tweet Pin Email In This Article View All In This Article What Is a Reverse Mortgage? Borrower Requirements Financial Requirements Property Requirements Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Photo: Fly View Productions / Getty Images A reverse mortgage allows you to use the equity you’ve built in your home to obtain cash. It’s a popular second-mortgage option for homeowners who are over age 62 and who live on a fixed income because they won’t have to make monthly mortgage payments on the loan. But there are several strict requirements for the borrower, their current debts, and the property. . Key Takeaways Reverse mortgages are available from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), state and local governments, nonprofit agencies, and private lenders. A reverse mortgage taps into your home’s equity to provide you with cash. Borrowers don’t have to make monthly payments to repay their loans. Borrowers must be at least 62 years old. There are no minimum credit score or income requirements. What Is a Reverse Mortgage? A reverse mortgage is a mortgage designed for homeowners who are age 62 or older. “The mortgage allows a homeowner to tap into the equity in their home and not have to make any monthly payments,” Melissa Cohn, executive mortgage banker at William Raveis Mortgage, told The Balance by email. “They can receive a lump-sum payment, a fixed monthly payment, or even a line of credit.” The balance of the mortgage doesn't come due until the owner leaves their home. This could be because they've moved in with relatives, they went into an assisted living facility or a nursing home, or they've passed away. But some special rules apply to spouses if the mortgage is a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM), which is federally insured. Paying the balance at this time can require selling the home. Note Reverse mortgages are popular among older adults who are living on fixed incomes because they don’t have to make monthly payments, although they can if they want to. Borrower Requirements To qualify for a reverse mortgage, you must: Be 62 years of age or olderUse the home as your primary residenceComplete counseling with a HUD counselor The purpose of counseling is to determine your eligibility and to help you learn more about how a reverse mortgage works. It can also guide you to exploring some alternatives to a reverse mortgage, depending on your needs. Financial Requirements Qualifying for a reverse mortgage doesn’t depend on your credit score and there's no income requirement, but there are other types of financial prerequisites. To qualify, you must: Have a low mortgage balance or have paid off your mortgageBe current on federal income taxes, student loan debt, or any other federal debtAgree to set money aside for maintenance, repairs, property taxes, and home insurance You can take some of the money you receive from the reverse mortgage to pay off any federal debts or to set aside for maintenance, repairs, and insurance. Property Requirements In addition to personal and financial requirements, reverse mortgages also come with certain rules for the property. Lenders want to ensure that your home is worth their investment. “Similar to obtaining a conventional or ‘forward' mortgage, lenders require that the property adheres to minimum property standards,” Chris Shoemaker, mortgage loan officer at Red Diamond Home Loans in Plano, Texas, told The Balance by email. “It should be safe, sound, and secure, which means there should be no safety issues with the home, like mold.” Soundness means the home should not have dilapidated floors or roofing, or any other structural issues. “Security refers to ground floor windows that lock, doors and entryways that are functional, et cetera,” Shoemaker said. You'll have to make the necessary repairs before you can proceed with the reverse mortgage if your home doesn’t pass inspection. Note One of the many alternatives to a reverse mortgage might fit your needs if you don’t meet these requirements. They include refinancing your mortgage, taking out a home equity line of credit (HELOC), or even selling your home. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) What are the pros and cons of a reverse mortgage? “One major pro is that it gives senior citizens access to the equity in their home with no monthly payments,” Cohn said. This money can be used for living expenses or to pay off other debt, like medical bills. And since you’ll use the equity in your home as collateral, your income and credit score aren’t contributing factors.On the other hand, reverse mortgages also have some negatives to consider. “The rates and fees are expensive, and they are very hard to get with condos or coops,” Cohn said. “Also, the payments not made are accumulating and eating into the remaining equity.” What percentage of equity is required to qualify for a reverse mortgage? You'll need at least 50% equity in your home to qualify for most reverse mortgages. What are the income requirements for a reverse mortgage? There’s no minimum income required for a reverse mortgage, but you’ll have to meet other personal, financial, and property eligibility requirements. For example, you must be at least 62 years old and have fully or nearly paid off your mortgage balance. Can you get turned down for a reverse mortgage? Yes. You could be turned down if you don’t meet all the requirements. Make sure you’re old enough, that your home is in good shape, and that your finances tick all the required boxes before applying for a reverse mortgage. Meeting with a HUD counselor can help you determine whether you’re eligible before you spend time applying. What happens to your surviving spouse if you have a reverse mortgage then pass away? It depends on whether the surviving spouse was listed as a co-borrower on the reverse mortgage. If so, they can continue to live in the home as long as they continue to meet the loan obligations to maintain the property and pay taxes, insurance, and other expenses.The surviving spouse will have to move out if they didn't sign on as a co-borrower unless they qualify under HUD rules as an eligible non-borrowing spouse. They can stay in the home in this case, but they won’t receive any further payments from the reverse mortgage. You may want to seek advice from a lawyer or housing counselor if you or your spouse isn't listed as a co-borrower. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "What Happens if I Have a Reverse Mortgage and I Have To Move Out of My Home, Such as Moving into a Nursing Home or To Live With Family?" Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "Can Anyone Take Out a Reverse Mortgage Loan?" National Council on Aging. "A Guide to Reverse Mortgages for Older Adults." Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "What Happens to My Reverse Mortgage When I Die?"