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Reverse Mortgage San Diego

Best Reverse Mortgage San Diego 2023

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Introduction of Reverse mortgage san diego

A reverse mortgage is a unique financial product that allows senior homeowners to access the equity in their homes. The equity built up over years of mortgage payments can be tapped and converted into tax-free cash. Reverse mortgages provide seniors a way to supplement retirement income and enjoy their golden years more comfortably. 

With its sunny climate, coastal views, and vibrant culture, San Diego is a popular retirement destination. The city’s high home values make reverse mortgages attractive for many local seniors looking to unlock home equity. This guide will explore everything you need to know about getting a reverse mortgage in San Diego. We’ll cover how these loans work, lending requirements, costs, the top local lenders, and more. Read on for an in-depth look at reverse mortgages in San Diego.

What is a Reverse Mortgage?

A reverse mortgage is a special type of home loan designed for older homeowners aged 62 and up. Like a traditional mortgage, a reverse mortgage uses your home as collateral. However, unlike a traditional mortgage, you don’t make monthly payments with a reverse mortgage. Instead, the lender pays you. You get access to cash based on the amount of equity built up in your home.

With a reverse mortgage, the loan balance grows over time as interest and fees are added. The loan comes due and must be repaid when certain triggering events occur. Common repayment triggers include the borrower dying, selling the home, or moving out permanently. Heirs can either repay the loan and keep the home or sell the property to settle the debt.

Reverse mortgages allow seniors to convert illiquid home equity into tax-free cash that can be used for any purpose. Common uses include supplementing retirement income, paying off debts, funding home improvements, covering medical expenses, and more. These loans provide financial flexibility in retirement.

However, reverse mortgages also carry risks and costs you need to factor in. You’ll pay origination fees, mortgage insurance premiums, closing costs, servicing fees, and interest. The loan balance grows over time, leaving less equity for heirs. Let’s dive deeper into the pros and cons.

Pros of Reverse Mortgages

  • Access large lump sums or create ongoing income from home equity
  • No monthly mortgage payments required
  • Income is tax-free
  • Can be used to eliminate existing mortgage debt
  • FHA-insured products provide consumer protections

Cons of Reverse Mortgages

  • Upfront costs and fees can be high
  • Interest rates are generally higher than traditional mortgages
  • Loan balance grows over time; less home equity left for heirs
  • Predatory lenders may take advantage of borrowers
  • Could impact eligibility for some government benefits

Reverse mortgages allow seniors to tap home equity, but also deplete it over time. They can be beneficial if used strategically, but require due diligence to avoid pitfalls.

Reverse Mortgage Requirements

To qualify for a reverse mortgage, you must meet certain requirements:

Age – The youngest borrower must be at least 62 years old.

Home Ownership – You must own your home outright or have a low mortgage balance that can be paid off with proceeds from the reverse loan.

Occupancy – The home must be your primary residence. Investment properties don’t qualify.

Home Value – The home must meet federally-mandated value limits, which vary by county. In San Diego, the 2023 limit is $1,136,550. 

Financial Counseling – Reverse mortgage applicants must receive counseling from a HUD-approved agency before obtaining the loan.

Mortgage Insurance – All government-backed reverse mortgages require upfront and ongoing mortgage insurance premiums.

Loan-to-Value (LTV) Limits – The amount you can borrow depends on your age and home value. Older borrowers can access more equity.

Reverse mortgages have strict eligibility criteria. The FHA insures most reverse mortgages through its Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) program. HECM loans have home value limits, insurance requirements, and LTV ratios capped between 25-68% depending on your age. Taking the time to ensure you qualify is crucial.

How Much Money Can You Get From a Reverse Mortgage in San Diego?

How much cash you can access with a San Diego reverse mortgage depends on several factors:

Your age – Older borrowers can receive more favorable loan-to-value ratios

Current interest rates – Higher rates reduce potential proceeds

Home value and equity – Higher home values qualify for larger loans

Loan type – Tenure loans offer higher LTVs than term loans

Initial mortgage balance – Any existing liens impact proceeds

As an example, let’s consider a 65-year-old San Diego homeowner with a home valued at $750,000 and no mortgage. Assuming current prevailing rates, they could receive around $309,000 from a tenure HECM reverse mortgage. However, exact loan amounts can only be determined through a detailed loan analysis.

In today’s hot San Diego housing market, home values have risen substantially. This allows many local seniors to tap significant equity through a reverse mortgage. Just be sure to shop around with multiple lenders to maximize your payout.

Reverse Mortgage San Diego
Reverse Mortgage San Diego

Uses for Reverse Mortgage Funds 

Reverse mortgages provide tax-free cash that can be used for anything you want. Here are some of the most popular uses:

  • Paying off an existing mortgage
    • Funding home improvements and maintenance
    • Covering healthcare and medical expenses
    • Supplementing retirement income 
    • Paying property taxes and insurance
    • Travel and leisure activities
    • Financial help for loved ones
    • Emergencies and contingencies

Beyond these standard uses, reverse mortgages offer creative ways to generate income. You can structure the loan as a line of credit and use proceeds to purchase income generating assets. Or you can use lump-sum proceeds to invest or purchase an annuity that provides guaranteed lifetime income. Talk to a financial advisor about advanced reverse mortgage strategies.

Repayment Options for Reverse Mortgages

When taking a reverse mortgage, you have choices in how you want to receive your cash. Common options include:

Lump Sum – Take the full amount you qualify for as a single payment. This maximizes funds up front but leaves nothing later.

Line of Credit – Establish a credit line you can draw from over time as needed. Unused amounts grow at an interest rate tied to the 10-year Treasury.

Monthly Tenure or Term Payments – Receive fixed monthly payments for either your lifetime (tenure) or a set period (term).

Each method has advantages. A line of credit provides flexibility and growth. Monthly tenure payments create lifelong income. Analyze your financial needs to pick the best repayment structure for you.

No matter the payout method, the loan must be repaid when the last borrower dies, sells the home, or moves out permanently. Make sure your heirs understand this to avoid issues down the road.

Interest Rates and Fees for San Diego Reverse Mortgages

Like any mortgage loan, you’ll pay various fees and costs when taking out a reverse mortgage in San Diego. Common charges include:

Origination fee – Upfront fee equal to 2% of your home’s value (capped at $6,000)

Closing costs – Typical fees for appraisal, title, escrow, recording, etc. 

Mortgage insurance premium – 2% upfront fee plus ongoing monthly charges

Servicing fee – Around $35/month covers the life of the loan

Interest rate – Varies by lender; typically higher than traditional mortgages

Rates and fees can add up. On a $300,000 reverse mortgage, total first year costs could reach $15,000 or more. Shop multiple lenders to get the best deal. Non-HECM loans may have lower upfront costs. Ask about any discounts or promotions available.

Reverse Mortgage Lenders in San Diego

San Diego has its fair share of lenders offering reverse mortgages. Here are several top options local homeowners can consider:

American Advisors Group (AAG) – This national lender specializes in reverse mortgages. They offer competitive rates and have dedicated reps. But some clients complain about aggressive sales tactics.

Fairway Independent Mortgage – A regional lender with reverse mortgage expertise and great customer service. But loan amounts may be smaller than other options.

HighTechLending – A tech-focused lender praised for smooth processes. However, they have fewer physical branches than competitors.

Finance of America Reverse (FAR) – One of the largest reverse mortgage lenders. They offer integrated servicing and line of credit growth options. 

Mutual of Omaha Mortgage – Part of the well-known insurance company. They provide white-glove service but rates can be higher.

Shopping around is key to getting the optimal loan. Compare interest rates, upfront costs, loan amounts, and customer service when choosing a lender. Lean on referrals from trusted advisors and other local seniors if possible.

The Reverse Mortgage Process from Start to Finish

Obtaining a reverse mortgage loan involves several key steps:

1. Initial Consultation – Discuss your needs with a lender to see if a reverse mortgage may help. Get estimates on loan amounts, costs, etc.

2. Loan Application – Formally apply for pre-approval once you’ve selected a lender. Verify you meet age, value, and title requirements.

3. Counseling Session – All applicants must receive third-party counseling on reverse mortgage risks and alternatives.

4. Home Appraisal – The property is appraised to confirm its value and condition. Any needed repairs may be required.

5. Underwriting – The lender reviews your application, property, and finances to approve the loan.

6. Closing – Final loan documents are signed, and funds are disbursed to you!

Expect the entire process to take around 30-60 days from start to funded loan. Be sure to ask your lender for a detailed timeline so you know what to anticipate.

 Alternatives to Reverse Mortgages

Reverse mortgages aren’t the only option for tapping home equity. Some alternatives for seniors to consider include:

Traditional Home Equity Loan – Borrow against your equity with fixed repayment terms. You keep title to the home.

Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) – Establish a revolving credit line using home equity as collateral.

Downsizing – Sell your current home and move to a cheaper property to free up cash.

Home Revision Plan – Some nonprofits offer equity sharing plans for seniors instead of traditional loans.

Sale-Leaseback – Sell your home and remain as a renter with the buyer.

These options let you access home equity without paying for mortgage insurance or permanent reductions in equity. However, you must make required payments. Explore all avenues to determine the optimal strategy for your financial situation

Is a Reverse Mortgage Right for You?

Ready to move forward with a reverse mortgage? Take time to consider these key points first:

  • How will reduced home equity impact your legacy and heirs?
    • Can you still afford property taxes, insurance, HOA fees, and home maintenance?
    • Are you prepared to move out and sell the home when required?
    • Have you reviewed lower cost alternatives like a HELOC?
    • Are there strategies to optimize government benefits, taxes, and timing?
    • Do you have a stable income to supplement the reverse mortgage?
    • Have you shopped multiple lenders and loan options?
    • Is the loan purpose worth the fees, expenses, and closing costs?

For some retirees, the pros of a reverse mortgage outweigh the cons. For others, alternative options are preferable. Seek trusted advice and carefully weigh your specific situation.

Reverse Mortgage San Diego
Reverse Mortgage San Diego

Reverse Mortgage Myths and Misconceptions 

Despite being around for decades, reverse mortgages are still misunderstood. Here are some common myths versus the reality:

Myth: The bank can take your home at any time with a reverse mortgage.

Reality: You retain full title and ownership of your home, like a traditional mortgage. The bank cannot seize your property as long as you meet loan terms.

Myth: Reverse mortgages are just for desperate seniors in financial trouble.

Reality: More affluent retirees use them as part of prudent retirement planning.

Myth: Your heirs will owe nothing as long as the home value covers your loan balance.

Reality: Any unused equity left goes to your estate, not the bank. Heirs aren’t responsible for shortfalls.

Myth: You must purchase an annuity with your reverse mortgage money.

Reality: Reverse mortgage funds can be used entirely as you wish.

Myth: Reverse mortgages reduce or impact your Social Security benefits.

Reality: Social Security benefits are completely separate and unchanged.

The best way to distinguish fact from fiction is to consult an unbiased reverse mortgage counselor. Don’t let myths cloud your understanding.

Reverse Mortgage Scams in San Diego 

Unfortunately, reverse mortgage scams do happen across the country. Scammers take advantage of seniors to steal equity from their homes. Here are some common red flags:

  • Telemarketers pressuring you to take out a reverse mortgage quickly
    • Upfront fees charged before providing any services
    • Promises that all your credit card or medical debts can be paid off
    • Claiming the loan is “guaranteed” with no risk at all
    • Telling you to make the broker the executor of your estate

The FBI warns seniors to beware of these predatory tactics. Only work with established lenders and use HUD’s resources to protect yourself. Legitimate reverse mortgages don’t require upfront fees or pressure sales tactics. Report any concerns to the CFPB or FTC to stop these scams.

Shopping for a Reverse Mortgage in San Diego

Finding the best reverse mortgage requires due diligence. Follow these tips when shopping around:

  • Get quotes from at least 3 different lenders
    • Ask about all rates, fees, and closing costs
    • Verify the lender has a physical location and phone number 
    • Check complaints with the CFPB and Better Business Bureau
    • Review total loan costs, not just the interest rate
    • Look for a comprehensive suitability letter estimate 
    • See if lenders belong to NRMLA or state reverse mortgage associations
  • Take your time; don’t fall for pressure tactics     

Meeting with multiple lenders helps you negotiate the optimal deal. Never take a lender’s word that you’re getting the “best rate.” Verify through your own exhaustive research.

San Diego Reverse Mortgage Counseling 

All reverse mortgage applicants must receive counseling prior to obtaining the loan. Counseling reviews suitability, alternatives, impacts on government benefits, and inheritance considerations. The session ensures borrowers fully grasp how reverse mortgages work.

San Diego homeowners can choose an approved HUD counseling agency such as:

  • Money Management International
    • Consumer Credit Counseling Service of San Diego 
    • Springboard Nonprofit Consumer Credit Management
    • National Foundation for Credit Counseling

These nonprofits charge reasonable fees for phone or in-person consultations. The counseling provides an unbiased perspective before moving forward. Don’t skip this valuable step.

Impact of a Reverse Mortgage on Government Benefits

Will tapping your home equity affect your government assistance? In some cases, yes. Here are potential impacts to understand:

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – Reverse mortgage proceeds count as a resource, possibly reducing your benefit.

Medicaid – State rules vary on whether funds impact eligibility. Proceeds from a primary residence may be exempt.

Medicare – Reverse mortgages don’t affect Medicare benefits or eligibility.

Social Security – Reverse mortgages have no impact on Social Security retirement benefits. 

Pension – Public pension plans with “asset limits” could count reverse mortgage proceeds.

Property tax – Increased assessed value from improvements may increase your property tax.

Strategies like keeping proceeds in a non-countable account for SSI can help minimize impacts. Consult with a non-profit credit counselor to understand your situation.

Tax Implications of Reverse Mortgages  

Are reverse mortgage payments considered taxable income? The short answer is no. According to the IRS, reverse mortgage proceeds are not taxable as income.

However, you can’t double-dip on deductions. If you already claim a deduction for mortgage interest, you can’t deduct reverse mortgage interest too. But if you don’t already deduct mortgage interest, the reverse loan interest is deductible.

Tapping home equity through a reverse mortgage doesn’t trigger a taxable event. You can receive funds free of federal tax consequences. Just be mindful of potential impacts to any government benefits you receive.

Inheriting a Home with a Reverse Mortgage

What happens when you inherit a home still tied to an active reverse mortgage? Typically, heirs have two choices:

Pay off the loan – Heirs can pay back what’s owed to keep the home if they have the means. Sale proceeds or life insurance funds may help cover this.

Sell the property – If repaying the loan is unrealistic, heirs can sell the home for no less than 95% of appraised value to satisfy the debt.

As long as the reverse mortgage balance doesn’t exceed 95% LTV, heirs won’t be liable for any shortfall between the loan and home value. Any remaining equity left goes to them tax-free.

It’s wise for reverse mortgage borrowers to communicate plans with heirs early on so they understand the process. Establishing a revocable living trust and keeping property taxes and insurance paid can also ease the transition.


A reverse mortgage can be a financial lifesaver for some San Diego seniors needing to supplement retirement income. But make sure to run the numbers carefully and compare alternatives before moving forward. Seek trusted counsel to ensure you fully grasp the implications.

While not right for everyone, those who strategically tap available equity can benefit greatly from reverse mortgages. They allow older homeowners to unlock their real estate wealth to enjoy retirement with greater security and peace of mind.

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