What is a Reverse Mortgage?

What is a Reverse Mortgage?

A reverse mortgage is a loan for people who own their homes and are at least 60 years old. It lets them turn some of the value in their home into cash. People who get these loans don't have to make regular payments like home loans. The person who took out the loan instead pays it back in full, plus interest and fees, when they sell their home, move into old age care, or die.

How Does a Reverse Mortgage Work?

With a reverse mortgage, homeowners can borrow money and use their home as collateral. The amount you can borrow depends on your age, the value of your home, and the lender's policies. Most of the time, you can borrow more when you are older. The borrowed amount, plus any interest and fees, accumulates over time and is paid back when the home is sold, or the borrower moves out permanently.

Eligibility Criteria

To be able to get an Australian reverse mortgage, you need to meet the following criteria:

  1. Age: You must be at least 60 years old.
  2. Home Ownership: You must own your home outright or have a small remaining mortgage.
  3. Property Type: The property must meet the lender's criteria, usually being your primary residence and in good condition.

Benefits of a Reverse Mortgage

What is a Reverse Mortgage?
#What is a Reverse Mortgage?

Financial Flexibility

A reverse mortgage provides financial flexibility, allowing you to access the equity in your home without needing to sell it. This can be useful for funding retirement, covering medical expenses, or making home improvements.

No Regular Repayments

One of the best things about a reverse mortgage is that you don't have to make regular payments. The loan is returned when the home is sold, helping retirees budget.

Retain Home Ownership

Own your home and live there as long as you choose. Knowing you have a place to live while accessing needed funds can provide peace of mind.

Potential Drawbacks

Accumulating Interest

Over time, interest on a reverse mortgage compound means the longer you have the loan, the more you owe. This can severely reduce home equity.

Impact on Inheritance

A reverse mortgage will reduce the inheritance you can leave to your heirs. It's important to discuss this with your family and consider their needs.


If you pay off the loan early, reverse mortgages come with various fees, including establishment fees, ongoing fees, and potential break costs. It's crucial to understand all the costs involved before proceeding.

Impact on Government Benefits

You may lose Age Pension eligibility if you get a reverse mortgage. It's advisable to seek financial advice to understand the full implications.

How Much Can You Borrow?

Reverse mortgage borrowing limits depend on numerous factors:

  1. Age: The older you are, the higher the percentage of your home's value you can borrow. For instance, at age 60, you can borrow up to 20% of your home's value, while at age 80, this could increase to 40%.
  2. Home Value: The current market value of your home will influence the loan amount.
  3. Lender Policies: Lenders have varying policies and may offer different loan amounts and terms.

Interest Rates

Reverse mortgages have higher rates than conventional loans. Rates can be fixed or variable; comparing different lenders is essential to find the best deal. The interest is added to the loan balance over time, increasing the total amount owed.


The loan must be repaid in full when:

  1. The home is sold.
  2. The borrower moves into aged care.
  3. The borrower passes away.

Until then, no regular repayments are required, but you can make voluntary payments to reduce the interest accumulating on the loan.

Protections for Borrowers

In Australia, reverse mortgages are regulated by the National Consumer Credit Protection Act, which provides several protections:

  1. Negative Equity Protection: You cannot owe more than the value of your home when it is sold. This means your estate or heirs will not be liable for any shortfall.
  2. Independent Financial Advice: Loan providers must require independent legal counsel before granting a reverse mortgage.
  3. Projections and Disclosures: Lenders must provide detailed projections showing how the loan balance will grow over time and the potential impact on your home equity.

Is a Reverse Mortgage Right for You?

Whether a reverse mortgage is right depends on your financial situation, goals, and needs. Here are some questions to consider:

  1. Do you need additional funds for your retirement?
  2. Are you comfortable with the idea of reducing your home equity over time?
  3. Have you discussed the decision with your family and considered their potential inheritance?
  4. Have you sought independent financial advice to understand the full implications?

Please get in touch with us for more detailed information.


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