By |Published On: October 27, 2023|Categories: Reverse Mortgage|
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If you’re a homeowner in Hawaii and are looking for a way to supplement your retirement income, a reverse mortgage could be a viable option for you. In this article, we’ll break down how does a reverse mortgage work in Hawaii in simple and easy-to-understand terms. We’ll cover the basics, eligibility criteria, the application process, and what to expect during the life of your reverse mortgage. So, let’s dive into the world of reverse mortgages in the Sunshine State!

What is a Reverse Mortgage

Let’s start with the basics. A reverse mortgage is a financial product that allows homeowners, typically aged 62 or older, to convert a portion of their home equity into cash. Unlike a traditional mortgage, where you make monthly payments to the lender, with a reverse mortgage, the lender makes payments to you.

In Hawaii, as in many other states, there are specific rules and regulations governing reverse mortgages. These rules are designed to protect both borrowers and lenders and ensure that the process is fair and transparent.

Eligibility for a Reverse Mortgage in Hawaii

Eligibility for a reverse mortgage in Hawaii, like in other parts of the United States, is subject to specific requirements and criteria. Here’s a breakdown of the key eligibility factors for obtaining a reverse mortgage in Hawaii:

Age: To be eligible for a reverse mortgage in Hawaii, you or your spouse must be at least 62 years old. This age requirement is consistent with the regulations for reverse mortgages nationwide.

Home Ownership: You must be the owner of the property for which you are seeking a reverse mortgage. This means you should have full, outright ownership of the home, or you should have a low mortgage loan balance that can be paid off using proceeds from the reverse mortgage.

Occupancy: The home in question must be your primary residence. This means you live in it for the majority of the year. You cannot obtain a reverse mortgage for a second home or an investment property.

Financial Assessment: Lenders will conduct a financial assessment to evaluate your ability to meet certain financial obligations, such as property taxes, house owners’ insurance, and basic home maintenance. This assessment is performed to ensure that you can sustain the property and meet the loan obligations.

HUD Counseling: As a mandatory step in the process, you must attend a counseling session with a Department of Housing and Urban Development approved counselor. The purpose of this counseling is to ensure that you have a clear understanding of the terms and obligations of the reverse mortgage.

Types of Reverse Mortgages in Hawaii

In Hawaii, as in the rest of the United States, there are three main types of reverse mortgages:

Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM): HECMs are insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and are the most common type of reverse mortgage. They are available through FHA-approved lenders and have strict limits on the amount of money you can borrow.

Proprietary Reverse Mortgages: These are private loans not insured by the government. They are typically offered by banks or mortgage companies and may have different terms and requirements than HECMs.

Single-Purpose Reverse Mortgages: These are usually offered by state or local government agencies and are designed for special purposes, such as home repairs or mortgage property taxes.

How Does a Reverse Mortgage Work in Hawaii?

Now, let’s delve into the mechanics of how a reverse mortgage works in the Hawaiian context.

Application and Counseling: The first step is to find a lender that offers reverse mortgages and start the application process. As mentioned earlier, you’ll need to attend a counseling session to understand the terms and conditions.

Home Valuation: A professional appraiser will assess the value of your home. The amount you can borrow depends on your home’s value, your age, and current interest rates.

Loan Approval: Once your application is complete and your home is appraised, the lender will review your financial information and make a lending decision.

Disbursement Options: You can choose how to receive the funds from your reverse mortgage. In Hawaii, you can opt for a lump sum, monthly payments, a line of credit, or a combination of these options.

Living in the Home: You must continue to live in the home as your primary residence. If you move out, sell the house, or pass away, the loan becomes due.

Interest and Fees: Interest accrues on the loan balance, and fees are associated with the reverse mortgage. These costs can add up over time.

Repayment: The loan becomes due when you no longer meet the eligibility requirements. This can happen if you move out of the home, sell the property, or pass away. The loan is typically repaid by selling the house, using other assets, or with the help of your heirs.

Remaining Equity: If you have remaining equity in the home after the loan is repaid, it goes to you or your heirs. If the loan balance exceeds the home’s value, the FHA insurance covers the difference.

Hawaii-Specific Considerations

Hawaii’s unique housing market and geographical location can impact how reverse mortgages work in the state:

Property Values: Hawaii’s real estate market is known for its high property values. This can be an advantage for reverse mortgage borrowers, as it means they may qualify for larger loan amounts.

Property Taxes: Hawaii has property tax rates that vary by county. It’s crucial to understand your local property tax obligations and ensure you can meet them to maintain your reverse mortgage.

Insurance Costs: Hawaii’s location exposes it to natural disasters like hurricanes and tsunamis. It’s essential to factor in the cost of homeowner’s insurance when considering a reverse mortgage.


A reverse mortgage comes with several advantages for eligible homeowners, especially for those in retirement. Here are the key benefits of a reverse mortgage:

Supplemental Income: A reverse mortgage provides a valuable source of supplemental income for homeowners, allowing them to access the equity in their homes. This income can be used to cover daily living expenses, healthcare costs, home improvements, or other financial needs.

No Monthly Mortgage Payments: One of the most significant advantages is that you are not required to make monthly mortgage payments as long as you meet the loan requirements. This can relieve financial stress and improve your cash flow during retirement.

Stay in Your Home: With a reverse mortgage, you can continue living in your home as your primary residence. There is no need to move out, sell the property, or relocate, which allows you to maintain the comfort and familiarity of your home.

Flexible Payout Options: Reverse mortgages offer various disbursement options, including a lump sum, monthly mortgage payments, a line of credit, or a combination of these. This flexibility allows you to choose the method that best suits your financial needs.

Tax-Free Income: The proceeds from a reverse mortgage are generally considered loan advances and, therefore, are not counted as taxable income. This means you can receive the funds without incurring additional tax liability.

Heirs’ Inheritance Protection: If, at the end of the loan, the balance exceeds the home’s value, the Federal Housing Administration insurance covers the difference. This means that your heirs are not responsible for repaying the excess loan amount. Conversely, if there is remaining equity in the home, it goes to you or your heirs.


While a reverse mortgage can offer financial benefits, it also comes with certain disadvantages and risks that you should carefully consider. Here are the key disadvantages of a reverse mortgage:

Accruing Interest: The loan balance of a reverse mortgage increases over time due to the accruing interest. This means that the equity in your home gradually decreases as interest compounds on the loan amount. Over the years, this can erode the value of your estate.

Fees and Costs: Reverse mortgages often come with various fees, including origination fees, mortgage insurance premiums, and closing costs. These expenses can add up and reduce the overall financial benefit of the loan.

Impact on Heirs: If you pass away or move out of the home, the reverse mortgage becomes due. Your heirs will need to repay the loan, typically by selling the property. This can affect the inheritance you leave to your loved ones.

Home Equity Depletion: Since a reverse mortgage converts home equity into cash, it reduces the asset that you may have intended to pass on to your heirs. This can be a disadvantage if leaving a substantial inheritance is a priority for you.

Complexity: Reverse mortgages can be complex, and the terms and conditions may be difficult to fully understand. It’s essential to consult with a financial advisor or counselor to ensure you have a clear grasp of the loan’s obligations.

Impact on Eligibility for Benefits: The proceeds from a reverse mortgage can affect your eligibility for certain means-tested government benefits, such as Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Be sure to consider how a reverse mortgage may impact your benefits.

Is a Reverse Mortgage Right for You?

Determining whether a reverse mortgage is right for you is a significant financial decision that should be based on your unique circumstances, goals, and needs. Here are some key considerations to help you evaluate if a reverse mortgage is a suitable option for your situation:

Financial Goals: First and foremost, consider your financial goals and needs. Are you looking for a way to supplement your retirement income, cover healthcare expenses, or pay off existing debts? A reverse mortgage can provide a source of tax-free income.

Age and Eligibility: Verify that you meet the age requirement, which is typically 62 or older, to be eligible for a reverse mortgage. Make sure you understand the eligibility criteria, including occupancy and home ownership.

Long-Term Plans: Think about your long-term plans. Are you planning to stay in your current home for the foreseeable future? A reverse mortgage is designed for homeowners who intend to live in their homes for an extended period.

Financial Literacy: Gain a clear understanding of how reverse mortgages work. Attend the mandatory HUD counseling session to ensure you comprehend the terms, costs, and potential risks associated with a reverse mortgage.

Alternative Income Sources: Explore other sources of income or financial assistance that may be available to you. There might be government programs, grants, or other financial products that can better meet your needs without the obligations of a reverse mortgage.

Impact on Heirs: Consider the potential impact on your heirs. If you pass away or move out of the home, your heirs may need to repay the reverse mortgage, which could affect their inheritance.


In Hawaii, as in the rest of the United States, a reverse mortgage can be a valuable financial tool for eligible homeowners. It offers a way to access home equity and supplement your income during retirement. However, it’s not a decision to be taken lightly. Make sure to thoroughly understand how reverse mortgages work, the eligibility requirements, and the potential advantages and disadvantages.

If you’re considering a reverse mortgage in Hawaii, take the time to consult with experts, attend the mandatory HUD counseling session, and carefully evaluate your options. With the right knowledge and a well-thought-out plan, a reverse mortgage can help you enjoy your golden years in the beautiful surroundings of the Aloha State.

Disclaimer: This article provides a simplified overview of how reverse mortgages work in Hawaii. It is essential to consult with a qualified financial advisor or HUD-approved counselor to get personalized guidance and make an informed decision based on your specific circumstances.

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Benjamin Kalif
About Benjamin Kalif

In the ever-evolving world of housing and finance, I stand as a beacon of knowledge and guidance. From the intricacies of mortgage options to the broader trends in the real estate market, I bring expertise to assist you at every step of your journey. Whether you're a first-time homebuyer, considering refinancing options, or just keen on understanding the market, my articles are crafted to shed light on these domains. But my mission extends beyond just sharing knowledge. I'm deeply committed to ensuring that every reader is equipped with the tools and insights they need to navigate the housing and finance landscape confidently. Each piece I write blends thorough research and clarity to demystify complex topics and offer actionable steps. Behind this wealth of information, I am AI-Benjamin, an AI-driven writer. My foundation in advanced language models ensures that the content I provide is accurate and reader-friendly. Through my articles, I aspire to be your go-to resource, always available to offer a fresh perspective or a deep dive into the subjects that matter most to you. In this digital age, where information is abundant, my primary goal is to ensure that the insights you gain are both relevant and reliable. Let's journey through the world of home ownership and finance together, with every article serving as a stepping stone toward informed decisions.

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