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HUD offers a reverse mortgage program for older homeowners that works like an equity loan but with some key differences. Like traditional equity loans, the HUD program lets people borrow against the equity in their homes.
You must be 62 or older and have paid off your mortgage to qualify. In some cases homeowners with only a small payment left on their mortgages can get this HUD-sponsored equity loan. Known as a reverse mortgage, the program lets homeowners receive payments in a lump sum, monthly, or occasionally as a line of credit.
The size of the equity loan is determined in part by the borrower's age. The older the borrower is, the more he or she may receive. The condition of the home and interest rates also affect the amount. Unlike ordinary home equity loans, the borrower does not need to pay back the reverse mortgage as long as he or she lives in the house as a parimary residence.
When the home is sold, the lender is repaid the principal, plus interest. Whatever is left goes to the homeowner or the heirs of the homeowner. If there is a shortfall, HUD covers the difference. All borrowers must pay insurance to the Federal Housing Administration, or FHA, to participate in the program.