Reverse Mortgage Scams | Bankrate

Key takeaways

  • A reverse mortgage is designed to let seniors aged 62 and older faucet into their dwelling fairness for extra earnings with out dropping their dwelling.
  • Many reverse mortgage scams — carried out by unscrupulous events from monetary advisors to contractors — can con seniors out of their dwelling fairness.
  • Not all reverse mortgages are scams, however folks exploring them ought to be extraordinarily cautious.

Reverse mortgages may be useful for older householders who’ve important fairness of their houses and wish to convert it into supplemental earnings. That mentioned, dangerous actors generally goal seniors with deceptive claims about how a reverse mortgage works. Earlier than you are taking out any such mortgage, right here’s what it’s good to know, together with among the most typical reverse mortgage scams to keep away from.

Are reverse mortgages scams?

Not all reverse mortgages are scams, however some may be. That can assist you spot a rip-off and avoid reverse mortgage fraud, it’s useful to know how these mortgage merchandise work and know what crimson flags to be careful for.

In contrast to a mortgage the place you are taking out a mortgage and regularly pay it again, a reverse mortgage — because the identify implies — works within the reverse method. Your mortgage lender makes mortgage funds to you, primarily based on a share of the worth of your private home, both in a lump sum, month-to-month installments or a line of credit score (or a mixture of those choices). As a substitute of paying down a mortgage, your debt grows, and also you don’t pay it again till you promote or transfer out of your private home or move away.

Essentially the most extensively obtainable reverse mortgage is the House Fairness Conversion Mortgage (HECM), which is issued by non-public lenders and insured by the Federal Housing Administration. This mortgage is on the market to householders who’re 62 or older, have important dwelling fairness and reside of their dwelling. The utmost mortgage quantity for a HECM in 2023 is $1,089,300.

There are additionally proprietary reverse mortgages from numerous lenders, who would possibly supply increased quantities, however the charges is also significantly higher.

To a big extent, reverse mortgage scams hinge not on the precise mortgage product however on the lender and different professionals concerned within the course of.

Reverse mortgage rip-off crimson flags to look at for

So, when is a reverse mortgage a ripoff? Listed below are some indicators of a possible reverse mortgage rip-off to look out for:

  • The scammer sends you an unsolicited supply.
  • The scammer tells you it’s free cash.
  • The scammer can’t clearly clarify the mortgage or the way it will work.
  • The scammer says they’re the one lender or salesperson it is best to speak to.
  • The scammer tries to cost you upfront charges, doubtlessly even only for getting data.
  • The scammer says a reverse mortgage is the answer to your entire monetary issues.
  • The scammer tries to promote you a monetary product.
  • The scammer is pushy.
  • The scammer tries to ship you funds for a house you didn’t purchase.

In the end, for those who weren’t already wanting into reverse mortgages, be very cautious of anybody who approaches you and suggests this selection.

Frequent reverse mortgage scams

As a result of reverse mortgages could be a prepared supply of money, fraudsters would possibly encourage seniors to use by making deceptive claims or committing outright fraud. They then pocket some or all the cash from the home’s liquidated fairness.

Take a look at the next examples of pitches for these unsavory lending conditions so you understand when reverse mortgages are scams.

‘You’ll be able to delay Social Safety’

The way it works: A lending professional, monetary advisor or different self-professed skilled tells a home-owner that they will take out a reverse mortgage at 62 to get an earnings stream now and delay taking Social Safety till age 70.

Why it’s dangerous: Reverse mortgages normally price extra — from closing prices to related charges — than the rise in your Social Safety verify for those who wait till age 70, in keeping with the Client Monetary Safety Bureau. What’s extra, you’ll have dumped the fairness in your home, which limits your monetary choices transferring ahead.

‘You should purchase a brand new dwelling with no cash down’

The way it works: Be cautious for those who’re approached with a particular potential property to buy. Many reverse mortgage scams focus on con artists — usually with the assistance of straw consumers — buying a distressed or deserted property, then recruiting seniors to “buy” the low-cost dwelling by transferring the deed. They are saying you gained’t need to alternate any cash, a surefire signal that one thing’s fishy.

Why it’s dangerous: On this reverse mortgage fraud state of affairs, the scammer normally “helps” the senior get a HECM with a lump-sum cost. Typically, the scammer doesn’t really repair up the brand new dwelling, both. Issues would possibly look advantageous, however the senior finds critical points upon transferring in. Simply as they’re discovering the deeper issues, the scammer vanishes with the lump sum from the HECM.

‘You will get free earnings’

The way it works: An unsavory character tells a senior {that a} reverse mortgage offers them a free, no-strings-attached approach to get an earnings stream.

Why it’s dangerous: Anybody who tells you {that a} reverse mortgage is free earnings is mendacity. This cash isn’t free. Any cash you get goes towards the steadiness of your mortgage cost. You’ll both have to pay that off once you transfer or, for those who move away, your loved ones might want to settle the debt along with your lender. Plus, reverse mortgages normally include charges.

‘You’ll be able to belief us’

The way it works: Some reverse mortgage lenders rent movie star spokespeople to lend credibility to their commercials. However are reverse mortgages authentic when a family identify is behind them? Not essentially.

Why it’s dangerous: Whereas the product the spokesperson is touting may very well be authentic — and also you would possibly even like or belief the movie star’s claims — remember to do your homework earlier than committing to a proposal.

‘You are able to do this with out involving your partner’

The way it works: Scammers inform seniors they will get a reverse mortgage as the one borrower. They are saying the profit is that you simply gained’t need to contain your associate, troubling them with paperwork or conferences.

Why it’s dangerous: Even when the reverse mortgage is authentic, for those who move away earlier than your partner, the mortgage turns into due. At that time, your associate may very well be pressured to promote the home to repay the reverse mortgage.

‘All it’s good to do is signal right here’

The way it works: Some scammers might ask you to signal paperwork which have clean fields. By no means signal paperwork with blanks, even when the opposite get together claims they’ll fill them in afterward.

Why it’s dangerous: The scammers might fill in something in these blanks, permitting them to commit reverse mortgage fraud, similar to outright transferring possession of your private home to them with out providing you with a cent.

‘You may make dwelling enhancements’

The way it works: Scamming monetary professionals aren’t the one ones behind predatory reverse mortgages. Contractors and residential enchancment professionals may also be in play, suggesting a reverse mortgage as a way of cost for work they declare your private home wants.

Why it’s dangerous: If you wish to use your fairness in your home for a transform or addition, different choices — like a house fairness mortgage or dwelling fairness line of credit score (HELOC) — may give you a a lot lower-risk path ahead. Plus, these choices normally price lower than reverse mortgages.

‘You’ll be able to make investments on this money-maker’

The way it works: On this state of affairs, a scammer tries to get you to make use of cash from a reverse mortgage for a “profitable alternative,” similar to an annuity, life insurance coverage coverage or shares.

Why it’s dangerous: Buying these merchandise is normally not the neatest monetary transfer, particularly for those who want the funds for different functions, like healthcare prices. Bear in mind: You’re by no means required to buy any kind of monetary product, or spend money on something, to qualify for a reverse mortgage.

‘You gained’t lose your home’

The way it works: For those who’re struggling to pay your mortgage, fraudsters would possibly look like they’re providing you an ideal various with a reverse mortgage. This mortgage product can really feel like a welcome resolution for those who’re going through foreclosures.

Why it’s dangerous: Earlier than you decide to a reverse mortgage, attain out to your lender. Many supply mortgage modifications when householders battle to make their funds. This lets you keep in your home with out dumping your fairness in it.

How one can keep away from reverse mortgage scams

Earlier than you are taking out a reverse mortgage, communicate with a U.S. Division of Housing and City Growth (HUD)-certified housing counselor. Store round for a good lender and verify for complaints with the Higher Enterprise Bureau, as nicely.

“A authentic reverse mortgage or a House Fairness Conversion Mortgage is insured by the Federal Housing Administration, so debtors have to ensure that is the kind of mortgage they’re taking a look at,” says Jeff Taylor, co-founder and managing director at Mphasis Digital Threat.

For those who’re inquisitive about a reverse mortgage, seek the advice of along with your present lender or a trusted monetary advisor first, says Taylor. In case your lender doesn’t supply reverse mortgages, they may nonetheless be capable of level you to a good lender who does.

The identical applies for those who’re struggling financially and in search of an answer.

“If you’re experiencing a monetary hardship, contact your mortgage lender straight,” says Scott Sheldon, department supervisor at New American Funding in Santa Rosa, California.

For those who’ve discovered a reverse mortgage, completed your analysis and solicited skilled recommendation, it’s essential to make sure you’ll have sufficient earnings to cowl your actual property taxes and householders insurance coverage yearly, too, as failure to take action is the largest reason behind foreclosures.

Lastly, be sure you attend the closing and obtain any funds personally.

For those who assume you’ve been a sufferer of a reverse mortgage rip-off, file a grievance with the Federal Commerce Fee on its reporting web site or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP. You too can file complaints along with your native FBI area workplace, your state Legal professional Common’s workplace or your state’s banking regulatory authority.

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