The Origins of the Biggest Reverse Mortgage Myth

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Here’s where one of the biggest myths came from

reverse mortgage newsThe best lies have an element of truth in them. Perhaps the truth serves as the sugar coating on a poison pill that has infected the minds of many older homeowners who fear they would sign over ownership of their home if they chose to get a reverse mortgage. Where did such an urban legend begin? Does it have any historical merit?

The best place to begin our journey in seeking the truth is online. Here are several articles we found. The majority of the confusion is rooted in early versions of proprietary, or privately issued, reverse mortgage products. Many of the loans had shared appreciation clauses.

Another factor adding to the confusion of home ownership with a federally-insured reverse mortgage (or HECM) is the Deed in lieu of foreclosure. In its simplest definition, a deed in lieu of foreclosure does in fact sign over property ownership to another party. In the case of a HECM, a deed in lieu of foreclosure is typically used by the surviving heirs of a HECM borrower who find their parent’s reverse mortgage loan balance exceeds the home’s present value. This instrument signs over the home and property back to the lender avoiding a foreclosure proceeding. The deed in lieu in foreclosure represents the conclusion of the HECM loan and more importantly the importance of the loan’s non-recourse clause, which states that no other assets other than the home can be used to secure the loan. Heirs unfamiliar with this unique transaction could easily be left with the impression that their parents had signed over their home and thus add credibility to the myth.

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