According to the Wall Street Journal, reverse mortgages are one part of the mortgage market that aren’t drowning in the subprime sea. Reverse mortgages can provide older homeowners with a way to supplement their income, but the surge of new products appearing on the market makes it easier for consumers to pick a product that doesn’t suit their needs.
With a reverse mortgage, the lender pays the borrower as long as he or she lives in the house. The homeowner retains control of the house until he or she dies or moves out; then, the house is sold to pay off the loan. Traditionally, the owner had to be at least 62 years old to apply for the mortgage, but banks and lenders are making these products more attractive by lowering the minimum age, and offering lower fees and larger payouts.
Homeowners should be cautious though, the Journal warns, and shop around before they commit to a product. There are two factors to consider when shopping for a reverse mortgage: which index does the loan use and what are the fees? Reverse mortgages traditionally use the CMT index, though some base interest rates on the LIBOR index. Different products add varying amounts of interest according to whichever index they use. Fees can be anywhere between two percent and seven percent, and homeowners may pay higher interest rates for lower fees.