One of the features of reverse mortgage that senior borrowers do not often understand is that it is a “non-recourse loan.” This term is perceived negatively and brings unease to the homeowners when this is initially explained. The fact is that a non-recourse loan actually provides security to the borrower regarding the collateral.
In a reverse mortgage, it is a requirement to withdraw the home equity from the primary residence where the borrower continually resides. Since the collateral is placed upon the home, it should be the only source of repayment and dissolution of the mortgage contract. As it is, the reverse mortgage converts into cash a percentage of the home equity based on its current fair market value. The allotment can be released monthly or as a lump sum, depending on the preference of the borrower. Even when the period of loan allotment has already ended, the borrower is still under no obligation to repay the loan and may continue to occupy the residence. However, the longer the borrower remains in property, the higher the repayment dues would accrue.
The repayment will commence when the borrower and his family decides to vacate the home and proceeds to sell it. When the borrower passes away, the heirs would inherit the mortgage contract and they are given 12 months to occupy the property, wherein they can decide to continue the financial benefits of the reverse mortgage or to sell the house. The proceeds of the sold property is used to settle the full mortgage loan and the excess of the proceeds will go to the homeowner or his estate.
In this case, it provides security for the borrower that no other property will be involved in the repayment of the loan. The loan amount is also based on the life expectancy of the youngest borrower. There are cases where the borrower has outlived his calculated life expectancy, especially with the advent of modern medicine and physical activities designed for older generation.
As it happens, the loan obligation dramatically increases and may exceed the property value. Real estate naturally appreciates in value, however there are instances wherein the property depreciates. This happens when the home is not properly maintained and taxes are not updated. Small home repairs such as plumbing and repainting when not immediately responded to can lead to bigger problems.
When the loan obligation exceeds the home equity, the lender can not coerce the homeowner to sell his other properties, whether real or tangible, to cover the payment. The lender assumes the loss in case of depreciation in value; on the other hand, the borrower assumes the loss in case the property value increases.
A non-recourse set up sees to it that your reverse mortgage debt does not exceed the price of the property. Though essentially it may be worth more than the home, however as repayment discussion goes, nothing else should be used to settle the obligation or the lender has no recourse to extract repayment other than the collateral.