Reverse Mortgage vs Shared Equity: Key Differences!

by | Feb 9, 2024

Reverse mortgages are a financial tool designed for homeowners aged 62 and older, allowing them to convert part of the equity in their home into cash without having to sell the home, give up title, or take on a new monthly mortgage payment. The loan is called a reverse mortgage because instead of making monthly payments to a lender, as with a traditional mortgage, the lender makes payments to the borrower.

The amount you can borrow depends on several factors, including your age, the value of your home, and the prevailing interest rates. Over the life of the loan, homeowners continue to own their home and must maintain it, pay property taxes, and homeowners insurance. It’s important to note that the loan balance increases over time as interest on the loan and fees accumulate.

As equity decreases, the potential inheritance for the homeowner’s heirs also diminishes. However, reverse mortgages can provide a stream of income during retirement, which can be a valuable component of a comprehensive retirement plan. There are different types of reverse mortgages, including Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECMs), proprietary reverse mortgages, and single-purpose reverse mortgages, each with their specific features and requirements.

If you’re looking to catch up with your retirement planning, we’re here to help. Contact us today for a complimentary consultation with one of our expert Advisors. They’re ready to provide personalized guidance to help you achieve your retirement goals. Don’t miss this opportunity to take control of your future. Schedule Your Free Consultation Now! Click here.

Exploring Shared Equity Agreements: A Primer

Shared equity agreements provide an alternative way for homeowners to access the value of their property without taking on debt. In this arrangement, investors provide homeowners with a sum of money upfront in exchange for a percentage of the future change in the home’s value. This can either be an increase or a decrease, depending on the terms of the agreement and market conditions.

Unlike reverse mortgages, shared equity agreements do not require monthly payments or interest accrual. Instead, homeowners agree to share the gains—or losses—of their property value when they decide to sell the home or buy out the investment, usually within a set period, typically 10 to 30 years. This type of agreement can be particularly attractive to those who are cash-rich but equity-poor and wish to use their home’s value without the constraints of a loan.

It’s essential for homeowners to understand that while shared equity agreements can provide immediate financial relief or funding for other investments, they also mean sharing the wealth generated from the property’s future appreciation. Proper consideration of personal financial goals and market trends is crucial before entering into such an agreement. Moreover, since this is a relatively new financial product, the number of providers is limited, and the terms can vary significantly between different companies.

Comparing Reverse Mortgage and Shared Equity: Financial Implications

When weighing reverse mortgage vs shared equity, understanding the financial implications of each is critical for homeowners considering these options for retirement funding. A reverse mortgage is a loan against the home equity that does not require monthly mortgage payments. Instead, the loan is repaid when the homeowner moves out, sells the home, or passes away. The amount that can be borrowed depends on the borrower’s age, the equity in the home, and current interest rates.

On the other hand, a shared equity agreement is not a loan but an investment in the property’s future value. Investors give homeowners cash in exchange for a portion of the home’s future appreciation. There are no monthly payments, but homeowners must share the profit when they sell or refinance. The investor’s return is directly tied to the home’s performance in the real estate market.

The financial implications of choosing between these two options can be significant. With a reverse mortgage, the homeowner retains full ownership of the home and the debt can never exceed the home’s value, protecting the borrower from owing more than the house is worth. However, interest and fees accumulate over time, which can erode equity. In contrast, with shared equity, there is no debt accumulation, and the homeowner may benefit from lower costs if the property does not appreciate significantly. Yet, they also risk giving away a substantial portion of the property’s appreciation, which can be considerable in a booming housing market.

Homeowners must carefully consider their long-term financial strategy, risk tolerance, and the potential for home value appreciation when deciding between a reverse mortgage and a shared equity agreement. Each has unique advantages and drawbacks that could have lasting effects on a homeowner’s financial health and retirement comfort.

Eligibility and Requirements: Reverse Mortgage vs Shared Equity

Eligibility and requirements differ markedly between reverse mortgages and shared equity agreements, and understanding these is vital for homeowners evaluating their options. For a reverse mortgage, the primary eligibility criteria include the homeowner’s age, with most programs requiring individuals to be at least 62 years old. Additionally, the home must be the primary residence, and the homeowner must have substantial equity in the property—often at least 50%. The homeowner is also required to maintain the property and keep up with property taxes and homeowners insurance.

In comparison, shared equity agreements typically have more flexible age requirements, making them accessible to a broader range of homeowners. While these agreements also require the homeowner to have a certain amount of equity in their home, the specific percentage can vary among investors. Unlike reverse mortgages, shared equity agreements do not require the home to be the homeowner’s primary residence, which provides more versatility. The homeowner still has responsibilities, such as maintaining the home’s condition, as the property’s future value is integral to the investor’s return.

Regarding requirements, reverse mortgages often necessitate upfront costs, such as origination fees, insurance, and closing costs, which can be significant. On the other hand, shared equity investors may cover these types of costs in exchange for a stake in the property’s appreciation. It’s also important to note that while reverse mortgages are loans with a regulated structure, shared equity agreements are private contracts that can vary greatly in their terms and conditions.

Ultimately, selecting between a reverse mortgage and a shared equity agreement will depend on individual circumstances, including age, home equity, financial goals, and the ability to meet the respective obligations. Homeowners must thoroughly assess these factors to make an informed decision that aligns with their retirement planning objectives.

Pros and Cons: Weighing Your Retirement Options

Weighing the pros and cons of reverse mortgage vs shared equity is essential for homeowners looking to leverage their property for retirement funding. A reverse mortgage allows homeowners to convert part of their home equity into cash, providing a stream of income while they continue to live in the house. A key advantage is the ability to eliminate monthly mortgage payments, although the loan must be repaid upon moving out or at death. However, the downsides include the accrual of interest, which can erode the remaining home equity over time, and the potential for higher upfront costs.

Shared equity, in contrast, involves selling a portion of the future value of your home to an investor in exchange for a lump sum or income stream now. This option can be advantageous for those looking to access home equity without incurring debt. It’s also attractive for homeowners who expect their property value to appreciate moderately, thereby limiting the investor’s share of the gains. One significant drawback is the potential to give up a substantial portion of the home’s future value, which could be more than expected if the property’s appreciation exceeds forecasts.

Each option has unique implications for estate planning and tax considerations. A reverse mortgage loan balance will reduce the estate value left for heirs, yet it offers non-taxed cash advances. Shared equity does not create a loan, but it does mean sharing the proceeds from the future sale of the home, possibly affecting the inheritance.

Both reverse mortgages and shared equity agreements provide opportunities to access home equity for retirement funding, but they come with distinct trade-offs. Homeowners must consider their long-term financial goals, risk tolerance, and the impact on their estate before deciding which option better suits their retirement needs.

Making the Decision: Which Is Right for Your Retirement?

When it comes time to make a decisive choice between a reverse mortgage and shared equity for retirement funding, several personal factors must be considered. Assessing your financial situation, understanding how long you plan to stay in your home, and estimating the future value of your property are critical to making an informed decision. With a reverse mortgage, if you plan to age in place and prioritize staying in your home, this option may provide the financial security you need. On the other hand, if you’re comfortable with sharing the appreciation of your home’s value and possibly moving in the future, a shared equity agreement could be the more strategic choice.

It’s important to consult with financial advisors who have a deep understanding of the nuances of these financial instruments. They can help analyze your current financial health, project potential outcomes, and align them with your retirement goals. If you’re looking to catch up with your retirement planning, we’re here to help. Contact us today for a complimentary consultation with one of our expert Advisors. They’re ready to provide personalized guidance to help you achieve your retirement goals. Don’t miss this opportunity to take control of your future. Schedule Your Free Consultation Now!

Ultimately, the choice between a reverse mortgage and shared equity is highly individual. You must balance the immediate financial benefits with the long-term implications for your estate and heirs. A reverse mortgage might offer a comforting solution for those needing immediate income without moving, while shared equity could be advantageous for those with shorter-term housing plans and a willingness to trade future gains for present financial relief.


  • Scott Hall

    Scott realized about 5 years ago that he was woefully behind on retirement savings and needed to catch up. He began writing about it on

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