Is Your House Right for a Reverse Mortgage?

One of the most important factors in deciding whether a reverse mortgage is right for you is whether you will stay in the house for a long time. A reverse mortgage allows borrowers to tap into their home's equity to pay for expenses or to generate extra income in retirement without making monthly payments. Instead, the loan must be repaid when the borrower dies or sells the house. Reverse mortgages also stipulate that the house must be the borrower's primary residence.

According to Market Watch, the income from reverse mortgages could become increasingly important to retirees, as people are living longer, Social Security replacement rates are declining, and health care costs are increasing. That makes ensuring that you will stay in your home for a long time all the more important.

Because you must be at least 62 years old to apply for a reverse mortgage, your house will have to serve you well into retirement and old age. Not all houses are well suited for people who are aging, and before you take out a reverse mortgage here are three factors to consider about your primary residence.

Factors to Consider About Your Home

Stairs and hallways

While retirees may not have mobility issues now, as their bodies age, navigating stairs could become an issue. Multistory homes, townhouses, and condos above the first floor all may require stairs for access.

Real estate experts say that retirees' first priority in a house should be not having stairs or steps, even into a sunken living room and or onto the front walk or garage. People who have trouble walking or are bound to wheelchairs cannot maneuver up and down steps easily.

Wide hallways and open spaces also will better accommodate wheelchairs or walkers.

Cleaning and maintenance

While young buyers may be driven by a "bigger is better" mindset, retirees may not need all four bedrooms and three bathrooms unless they expect to regularly accommodate guests and grandchildren. Consider whether you want to clean 4,000 square feet or pay to heat and cool that much square footage in a retirement income.

An older home also could require ongoing maintenance that could be expensive and time consuming, and you should consider if you would be willing to do your maintenance in your senior years. Landscaping also will require upkeep or a budget for a lawn service.


While you may love your house in the country now, as you age it could become more important to live near your doctor than the wide, open fields. Consider how close you live to quality health care, including your primary doctors, as well as activities that you enjoy doing for fun. Take the climate of your location into consideration as well. Extremely cold winters, which include walking and driving in ice and snow, may not be ideal for retirement.

If you evaluate your home and decide that it would not be right for your retirement years, you still have options. Before you take out a reverse mortgage, consider downsizing or moving into a house that will need less upkeep and will fit your retirement budget. Establishing yourself in a house suitable for retirement will help ensure that you can live in it for many years.

Find out how much you qualify for.