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Reverse Mortgage Closing Costs – High or Mythical?

June 27, 2009

You’ve probably heard or read that reverse mortgage closing costs are high.  That’s a matter of perspective.  Have you looked at closing costs on a conventional home mortgage?  We’re going to compare these here to dispel this myth.

As with a conventional home mortgage (known as a “forward”), the closing costs for reverse mortgages may vary depending on the home value and the complexity of the loan.

The third party and recording fees are standard for any loan.  However, with the reverse mortgage HUD regulates the fees and requires that only the actual cost may be charged to the borrower, they do not allow mark ups such as processing fees.  Look at an estimated comparison based on a Minnesota home valued at $200,000:

Appraisal $375 $300 $375
Credit Report $20 $20 $20
Flood Certification $16.50 $16.50 $16.50
Courier Fee* $25 $55 $25
Escrow, Settlement or Closing $250 $250 $250
Abstract or Title Search $150 $150 $150
Title Exam $135 $135 $135
Document Preparation Fee $100 $100 $100
Title Insurance $585 $585 $585
Endorsements $100 $100
Recording Fees $92 $46 $92
County/Mortgage Registration Tax $256 $275 $275
Plat Drawing $60 $60 $60
Name Search $30 $30 $30
Special Assessment Search $30 $30 $30
TOTAL THIRD PARTY FEES $2,124.50 $2,152.50** $2,243.50

* Courier Fee is for sending a payoff on a current mortgage to the mortgage holder.

** These fees do not include all mark ups/processing fees so these may be higher when mark ups/processing fees are included.

Now let’s compare the Lender Fees:

FHA’s Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP) is paid directly to FHA.  This is 2% of the home value for the reverse and 1 ½% for a forward.  The advantages with FHA insuring the reverse mortgage include:

  • Guaranteeing the funds are available for you.
  • Guaranteeing the lender against default or shortfalls which means the interest rates are lower (currently under 4%) compared to other mortgages.
  • Providing a line of credit growth rate (available only with reverse mortgages).
  • Insuring as a reverse mortgage it is a non-recourse (no personal liability) loan.

The origination fee is what the originating lender receives to cover the loan officer’s salary, overhead to run the business, i.e. staff salaries, administration costs, computers, electricity, office supplies, marketing expense, gas mileage, health insurance of employees, etc..  The origination fee also includes the processing and underwriting costs which are generally separate and charged to the borrower on forward loans.  HUD regulates the reverse mortgage origination fee to be 2% of the 1st $200,000; 1% thereafter with a cap of $6,000.

The reverse mortgage fees are based on the full home value because over time borrowers can access more than the home value at the time of origination.

An estimate based on a $200,000 home value:

Origination/Points $4,000 $2,000* $2,000*
MIP $4,000 $0 $3,000
Underwriting/Processing $0 $700 $700
SUBTOTAL LENDER FEES $8,000 $2,700 $5,700
Backend fee** $0 $2,000 $2,000
TOTAL LENDER FEES $8,000 $4,700 $7,700
Prepaid Interest*** N/A ++ ++

*Typical points on Forward loans are 0-4%; this example is based on $100,000 loan at 2% points
** Forward loans often have a 1% backend fee
*** Number of points are directly related to interest rate charged; the more points paid the lower the interest rate; the lower points paid, the higher interest rate

$10,124.50 $6,852.50 $9,943.50

Note:  THE DIFFERENCE IS BASICALLY THE FHA MORTGAGE PREMIUM! Refer to above comments on the benefits of FHA insuring the loan.

The fees associated with the reverse mortgage are fully financed as part of the loan with no out of pocket expenses.  (As of 2010 Appraisal Management Companies must be used to order and process the appraisal.  This fee is generally required to be paid for by borrower up front or “out of pocket.”)

When considering whether to do a forward mortgage or a reverse mortgage you must consider if you can even qualify for a forward mortgage; then if you can make the payments over time.  For example, what happens if “life happens,” could you continue making those payments or would you be facing foreclosure?

You also need to consider that if you do a forward mortgage now, you’ll be paying the closings costs on that loan and then when you need more funds in the future and you refinance you’ll be paying the closings costs again.  These together can equal or exceed the total of the closing costs on the reverse mortgage.

Whereas with the reverse mortgage you pay the closing costs upfront and then without paying closing costs again you have access to more funds through your life as long as you are living in the home as your primary residence.

In the big picture the cost of the reverse mortgage is less than a forward mortgage over time because the interest rate is lower on the reverse mortgage.  Therefore typically it doesn’t take too long for a forward mortgage to make up and then exceed what difference there is in closing costs of the reverse mortgage.

© 2009 Beth Paterson 651-762-9648

28 Comments leave one →
  1. Steve Abate permalink
    July 3, 2009 10:51 am

    Reverse Mortgages are a fantastic idea. My only concern is that some sales representatives express an opinion that a reverse mortgage is the solution for all seniors.

    • July 3, 2009 3:34 pm

      You have a valid concern, just as with anything, there isn’t a “one-size-fits all” solution for everyone – it depends on ones’ circumstances whether the reverse mortgage is the right solution for ones’ situation. A good reverse mortgage representative/originator will work with seniors and their family or advisors and educate them about reverse mortgages so an educated decision can be made on whether a reverse mortgage is right for their situation.

      My concern is that many seniors, their family and advisors aren’t educated enough about reverse mortgages and they believe the many myths and misinformation that is floating around and dismiss the reverse mortgage as an option when it may be right for their situation.

      I would say that the representatives who state that a reverse mortgage is the solution for all seniors aren’t fully educated on reverse mortgages and when they can be a great solution and when the reverse mortgage shouldn’t be done. These representatives may have more of the “sales aptitude” rather than the caring, educator style that I feel is needed as a good reverse mortgage originator. Visit my post “Don’t let fear keep you from a reverse mortgage but know what to look for in a lender” to help determine that you are working with a good experienced originator.

  2. December 4, 2009 5:17 am

    I have read a number of your posts and I especially like this approach to a discussion about reverse mortgage fees. I have published an excerpt of your post on my site and linked here to your blog. Hope you may have some time to consider looking at my site. Thanks


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