Taking out a reverse mortgage means you can't leave your home free and clear to your heirs. Some unscrupulous loan brokers have even convinced married homeowners to take out reverse mortgages in just the older spouse's name. That means the bank will approve a larger loan amount -- and a bigger sales commission -- but the younger spouse could lose the home when the borrower dies. The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau also found that 73% of reverse-mortgage borrowers take most or all of their available equity out as a lump sum.
Although banks know they won't get their money back until you die or move, they can still foreclose on you in some circumstances. Lenders typically have the right to seize your home if you don't keep up with property taxes, insurance or maintenance. The CFPB noted in its report that a "surprising large" 9.4% of all reverse-mortgage borrowers faced risk of foreclosure as of February, adding: "This proportion is continuing to increase." Your loan can also come due if you vacate your home for more than one year -- even if that's because you entered a nursing home. Ripoffs
The mix of elderly borrowers and complex terms make reverse mortgages ripe for abuse. Even legitimate loans carry high origination fees and upfront insurance charges equal to 2% of your home's value. (The bank will also add future insurance premiums to your mortgage's unpaid balance.) The industry also has long attracted scammers. For instance, crooked salespeople sometimes simply pocket borrowers' lump-sum payouts and disappear.