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Introduction to LifeStyle Home Loan Refinances

So, what is a LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance?

Many ask, "is a LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance a good idea?" While there can be speculation, our hope is that you become fully informed of this unique mortgage loan and ultimately make the best decision for you and your family given your unique situation.

It can be scary making a major decision concerning your biggest investment, the place that means the most to you. Deciding whether a LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance loan is right for you takes much thought and consideration. We hope the following information is beneficial as you explore whether a LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance is right for you.

A LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance is a unique loan that allows homeowner(s) 62 years of age and older to draw on the value of their home, which is paid to the homeowner(s) in a variety of payout options or used as a line of credit. One of the unique features of a LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance loan is that it does not require repayment until the borrower(s) no longer resides in the residence, the last surviving borrower passes away, or if the borrower(s) does not comply with the loan obligations.

There are different types of LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance solutions. The two most popular are the HECM loan (Home Equity Conversion Mortgage, insured by the FHA) and jumbo or proprietary LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance for high-value homes. Prior to applying for a LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance loan, it is required that you are made aware of the terms and conditions of the loan through sources provided by HUD or your lender. If you are applying for a HECM loan, you can contact the Housing Counseling Clearinghouse at 1-800-569-4287 to obtain the name and telephone number of a HUD-approved counseling agency. You may also contact our office and we will provide you with the list of HUD-approved LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance counseling agencies.

We are certified LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance specialists and are here to assist you as you explore your options and whether a LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance solution is right for you. Our goal is that as you learn more about the LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance you have all the information you need to make the best decision for you and your family. We aim to provide world-class service from start to finish.


To qualify for a LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance loan there are some basic requirements, such as:

  • The youngest borrower (that will be on title) must be at least 62 years old.
  • The home must be lived in and be the primary residence of the borrower/s.
  • There must sufficient equity in the home. While there is no specific amount of equity required - as a general rule of thumb - you'd want at least 50% equity in your home since you will need to pay off your existing mortgage with the loan proceeds. The more equity you have the more loan proceeds you will have access to.
  • For a HECM loan, all applicants are subject to a financial assessment to determine their financial capacity and willingness to pay the loan obligations, such as taxes and insurance.

Keep in mind that each lender may have different qualification requirements based on multiple factors; like your financial situation, age, interest rates, home values, and other factors. Also, your home does not have to be paid off in full or 'mortgage-free' to qualify for a LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance loan.

The cash you can potentially receive is based on the age of the youngest borrower, the current expected interest rate, the mortgage option selected, and the appraised value of the home. For instance, an older individual with a higher value home typically will be eligible for more than a younger person with the same home value at the same expected interest rate. How much money you can take in the first year is limited. For more information on distribution limits visit our LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance FAQs page.

Contact us today for your free and no-obligation LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance evaluation.


Deciding whether a LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance loan is right for you can be a daunting task, but we are here to hopefully alleviate some confusion and provide you with all the information you need to make the best decision for you and your family.

Some of the key features of the LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance loan are as follows:

  • While you will still need to pay property taxes and insurance and maintain the property, no monthly mortgage payments are required.
  • There are multiple options to convert your home's equity to support your financial goals, such as, receiving monthly payments, receiving a lump sum, or growing a line of credit over time.
  • Proceeds you receive from a LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance loan are typically tax-free, however, you will need to consult your tax advisor for tax advice.
  • Borrower protection to help reduce the risk of foreclosure. An example of this is a guideline that limits the amount of equity the borrower can access during the first year of the loan. Also, the borrower/s must demonstrate that they're able to pay property taxes and insurance and maintain the home during the time they have the loan. Furthermore, if a non-borrowing spouse under the age of 62 loses their borrowing spouse or their spouse permanently leaves the home, they will be allowed to remain in the home.
  • If the borrower/s choose to access their equity via a line of credit, interest only accrues on funds that are used. Funds that are not used will increase over time at the same rate of your loan. This feature allows for growing the amount of cash you have access to should you need or want to access it later in retirement. 
  • The FHA HECM Loan is a non-recourse loan. This means that if your home sells for less then the loan balance, your heirs are not liable for the debt. Only the funds received from the sale of the home can be used to repay the loan. 

At the time of application, your home mortgage balance does not have to be paid off to qualify. However, the LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance loan proceeds you receive must be used to pay off the existing mortgage or liens (if there is a mortgage balance owing). You will continue to hold title to your home subject to the mortgage securing the LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance loan.

LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance Home Eligibility

Homes that are eligible for a LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance loan include single-family homes, detached homes, townhouses, and two-to-four unit properties that are owner-occupied. Condominiums must be FHA-approved for the HECM loan and some manufactured homes are also eligible. Contact your LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance Loan Originator for more details on manufactured home eligibility.

Will You Have To Repay The Lender if You Outlive The Loan?

If you outlive the loan, you will not have to repay the lender if you have a HECM loan. As long as one of the borrowers on the loan note (or original non-borrowing spouse) lives in the home, continues to pay the taxes and insurance, and maintains the home in good condition, you will not need to repay the loan. Once the last surviving borrower passes away (and any non-borrowing spouse), the home is sold or the obligations of the loan are not met, the loan must be repaid.

How Will This Loan Affect My Estate And How Much Will Be Left To My Heirs?

Once the last surviving borrower dies, sells your home, or no longer resides there as the primary residence, you or your estate is responsible for the repayment of the money you received from the LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance, plus interest and other fees. Any remaining equity belongs to either you or your heirs.

A “non-recourse” clause prevents either you or your estate from being responsible for more than the value of your home when the loan is repaid. If the ending loan balance exceeds the home's value, the estate (heirs) can sign a deed in lieu of foreclosure releasing the property or, pay 95% of the home's appraised value, less customary closing costs & real estate commissions.


Should I Use An Estate Planning Service To Find A LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance?

HUD advises against using any service that charges a fee (except required HECM counseling) or any service that requests a lender referral fee to obtain a LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance. HUD provides this information free of charge and can direct you to HUD-approved housing agencies that offer approved LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance counseling or additional services that are free or have a minimal cost.

There is typically a LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance (HECM) counseling fee that ranges from $125 - $150. If the borrower cannot afford this fee, some counseling agencies will waive the fee for qualified applicants. You can find a HUD-approved housing counseling agency near you by calling 1-800-569-4287.

Options For Receiving Loan Proceeds

Adjustable interest rate LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance payments can be received in one of five ways:

  • Tenure: equal monthly payments
  • Term: equal monthly payments for a fixed period of months as decided by the borrower
  • Line of Credit: payments made in installments or at various times and in amounts dictated by the borrower(s)
  • Modified Tenure: monthly payments with a line of credit
  • Modified Term: monthly payments for a fixed period of months with a line of credit

For fixed interest rate mortgages, you will receive the Single Disbursement Lump Sum payment plan.



HELOC vs LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance - What Are The Differences Between A Home Equity Line of Credit And A LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance?

LifeStyle Home Loan Refinances have become more popular because they allow the borrower to receive loan proceeds that do not require immediate repayment as long as you remain in your home as your primary residence, do not sell your home, at least one borrower lives in the home, you meet the basic income and credit standards, and follow loan guidelines.

On the other hand, obtaining a home equity loan (or home equity line of credit or second mortgage) requires that you have sufficient income to cover the debt- plus, you must continue to make monthly principal and interest mortgage payments.

With a LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance, you must meet basic income and credit guidelines but you do not make monthly principal and interest payments. Keep in mind you must continue to pay all property-related fees, taxes, and homeowner’s insurance and maintain the property in good condition.

What’s in a name? LifeStyle Home Loan Refinances and Home Equity Conversion Mortgages

Necessity is the mother of invention and the first LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance is no exception. Today many use the terms LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance and HECM or Home Equity Conversion Mortgage interchangeably. But are they the same? Not necessarily. 

The first LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance was originated in 1961 by Deering Savings & Loan. Nelson Haynes who worked for the lender learned his former high school football coach had passed away and his widow was struggling to find a way to keep the home. The widow, Nellie Young, took the very first LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance and became part of mortgage history in the process.

In the ensuing years, interest grew in the concept of a ‘LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance’ which allowed the homeowner to defer payments until a later time -usually upon their death. Private lenders stepped into this niche market, however some of these loans relied upon ‘equity-sharing’ schemes in addition to accrued interest on the money borrowed.

Recognizing the increasing need for older homeowners to secure their retirement with home equity Congress began exploring the concept of LifeStyle Home Loan Refinances. In 1969 the first hearing was held in the Senate Committee on Aging to discuss the government’s possible role in such a program.

It wasn’t until nearly two decades later that the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage was formalized by Congress in 1987 as part of an insurance bill. It began as a pilot program for the nation’s first federally-insured LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance then later became a permanent fixture in mortgage lending. In formalizing a government-insured and supervised loan numerous consumer protections were included.

Today many refer to the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage or HECM as a LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance. However, not all LifeStyle Home Loan Refinances are created equal. HECMs are federally-insured and have unique eligibility requirements and guarantees. Private LifeStyle Home Loan Refinances offer access to one’s home equity with no required monthly payments as well, albeit with different terms and conditions.

The good news is that while only the HECM is insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and supervised by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), private LifeStyle Home Loan Refinances are closely monitored by regulators. It is recommended that homeowners thoroughly research their options on which loan may best suit their needs. Costs, features, eligibility rules, insurance, and interest rates should be considered.

Whether it’s a HECM or a LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance, both reverse the typical mortgage and provide eligible homeowners a flexible means to tap into their home’s value.

History of LifeStyle Home Loan Refinances

The origins and history of LifeStyle Home Loan Refinances reveal a loan product that has evolved dramatically over the last 40 years.

The first LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance loan was written in 1961 by Nelson Haynes of Deering Savings & Loan (Portland, Maine) to Nellie Young, the widow of his high school football coach helping her to stay in her home despite the loss of her husband’s income.

The need for LifeStyle Home Loan Refinances was further developed in the 1970’s with several private banks offering LifeStyle Home Loans. These programs gave seniors money from their home but did not afford the protections of today since no FHA insurance had been put in place. Since 1989 LifeStyle Home Loan Refinances have grown in popularity.

In the early 1980’s the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging issued a report stating the need for a standardized LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance program. Other committees throughout the mid 80’s cited the need for FHA insurance and uniform lending practices. In late 1987 Congress passed the FHA insurance bill that would insure LifeStyle Home Loan Refinances. On February 5, 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed the FHA LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance bill into law. In 1989 the first FHA-insured HECM was made to Marjorie Mason of Fairway, Kansas by the James B Nutter Co.

Since 1989 LifeStyle Home Loan Refinances have grown in popularity, especially in the mid to late 1990’s. Despite economic upheaval and forward mortgage lending issues, LifeStyle Home Loan Refinances have continued to grow as a safe, government-insured loan allowing seniors to access a portion of the value of their homes while not having to make a monthly mortgage payment.*


*This advertisement does not constitute financial advice. Please consult a financial advisor regarding your specific situation.There are some circumstances that will cause the loan to mature and the balance to become due and payable. Borrowers are still responsible for paying property taxes, homeowner’s insurance and maintaining the property to HUD standards. Failure to do so could make the loan due and payable. Credit is subject to age, income standards, credit history, and property qualifications. Program rates, fees, terms, and conditions are not available in all states and subject to change. Borrowers should seek professional tax advice regarding LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance proceeds. 


Contact me today for your no-obligation LifeStyle Home Loan Refinance evaluation and quote.



Mike Bowers

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Mike Bowers serves the area of Cinncinatti, Ohio.

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