Help pack a million meals for struggling seniors on 9-11. Volunteer today



Driver Safety

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

Happy African American couple

AARP Books

Visit the Books Section

Enjoy titles on retirement, Social Security, and becoming debt-free.

Jobs You Might Like

most popular


Eligibility & Repayment of Reverse Mortgages

The Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) is the only reverse mortgage insured by the federal government. HECM loans are insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), which is part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The FHA tells HECM lenders how much they can lend you, based on your age and your home's value. The HECM program limits your loan costs, and the FHA guarantees that lenders will meet their obligations.

HECMs Versus Other Reverses

HECM loans generally provide the largest loan advances of any reverse mortgage. HECMs also give you the most choices in how the loan is paid to you, and you can use the money for any purpose.

Although they can be costly, HECMs are generally less expensive than privately-insured reverse mortgages. Other reverse mortgages may have smaller fees, but they generally have higher interest rates. On the whole, HECMs are likely to cost less in most cases. A notable exception may be the reverse mortgages now being developed by some credit unions.

The only reverse mortgages that always cost the least are ones offered by state or local governments. These loans typically must be used for one specific purpose only, for example, to repair your home, or pay your property taxes. They also generally are available only to homeowners with low to moderate incomes.

Who is Eligible

HECM loans are available in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. To be eligible for a HECM loan:
• you, and any other current owners of your home, must be aged 62 or over, and live in your home as a principal residence;
• your home must be a single-family residence in a 1- to 4-unit dwelling, a condominium, or part of a planned unit development (PUD). Some manufactured homes are eligible, but most mobile homes are not; cooperatives are expected to become eligible by the end of 2008.
• your home must meet HUD's minimum property standards, but you can use the HECM to pay for repairs that may be required; and
• you must discuss the program with a counselor from a HUD-approved counseling agency.

Repaying a HECM

As with most reverse mortgages, you must repay a HECM loan in full when the last surviving borrower dies or sells the home. It also may become due if:
• you allow the property to deteriorate, except for reasonable wear and tear, and you fail to correct the problem; or
• all borrowers permanently move to a new principal residence; or
• the last surviving borrower fails to live in the home for 12 months in a row because of physical or mental illness; or
• you fail to pay property taxes or hazard insurance, or violate any other borrower obligation.

Debt Limit

If your rising HECM loan balance ever grows to equal the value of your home, then your total debt is limited by the value of your home if the home is sold to repay the loan. But if the home is not sold and the loan is repaid with other funds, then you or your estate would owe the full loan balance–even if it is greater than your home’s value. Your heirs would not have any personal liability for repaying the loan.
AARP does not endorse any reverse mortgage lender or product.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.


The Cheap Life

Jeff Yeager Cheap Life Ultimate Cheapskate AARP YouTube web series save money

Catch the latest episode of The Cheap Life starring Jeff Yeager, AARP's Ultimate Cheapskate. Watch

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Member Benefits HomeServe

Members can protect their homes with comprehensive repair plans from HomeServe.

AARP Credit card from Chase

Members can get cash back rewards on purchases with the AARP® Credit Card from Chase.

Woman holding smartphone in city, Google map tool

Members can find discounts on the go via the AARP® Member Advantages Offer Finder app.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points


Advance your skills. Transform your career.

Explore your learning possibilities.