Don’t panic – but do be prepared.
Changes, the biggest in its history, are just around the corner for FHA’s reverse mortgage program.
Starting April 27 all homeowners applying for an FHA reverse mortgage should anticipate providing more documentation than has been required previously.
FHA’s new Financial Assessment mandate requires lenders to analyze homeowners’ financial resources and credit history. Under the new rules, homeowners must meet a certain “residual income” level. This means homeowners must have a certain monthly dollar amount left over after typical living expenses have been paid.
If the residual income level is met, no further documentation is required. However, if the residual income level falls short, more information will be necessary. All income sources can be counted, including Social Security, IRAs, pensions, 401-Ks, bank accounts, spousal support, and others.
Though many older homeowners are still expected to qualify, those with blemished credit histories or very low income and asset levels may not.
A second big program change is in the form of tax and insurance set-asides. If the lender determines paying property taxes and homeowners insurance may prove a challenge for the homeowner in the future, there will be a mandatory set-aside for this purpose. The amount set aside will come out of the available line-of-credit funds. This will result in a smaller available line of credit for those who meet the mandatory set-aside requirement.
Some homeowners may actually opt to set aside tax and insurance funds. This is perfectly acceptable, though one cannot later opt out – if you start off with a set aside, it’s a permanent feature of your loan.
The intent of the changes is to identify those homeowners who may fall into tax or insurance default down the road.
Time will tell if the new guidelines are too stringent. However, one thing is certain: if you have, or someone you know has, been thinking about a reverse mortgage, now may be the time you want to move forward.
If you have questions, give me a call. I always love hearing from you.
Laurie MacNaughton  is a freelance writer and Reverse Mortgage Consultant with Southern Trust Mortgage.
She can be reached at 703-477-1183 Direct or LMacNaughton@SouthernTrust.com