Understanding Reverse Mortgages

A reverse mortgage is a loan that is designed for homeowners 55 years of age and older. A reverse mortgage is secured by the equity in the home, which is the difference between the value of your home and the unpaid balance of any current mortgage. It allows homeowners to obtain cash without having to sell their home.

The Canadian Home Income Plan (CHIP), which is offered by HomEquity Bank, is the main source of most reverse mortgage products that are available in Canada. You can also speak to your financial institution about other options that may meet your needs.

With a reverse mortgage you don’t make any payments. Instead, the interest on your reverse mortgage accumulates, and the equity that you have in your home decreases with time. If you sell your house or your home no longer is your principal residence, you must repay the loan and any interest that has accumulated.

Before you decide to get a reverse mortgage, take the time to understand all the terms that apply, and to weigh the advantages and disadvantages.


  • You don’t have to make any regular payments on the loan.
  • You can turn some of the value of your home into cash, without having to sell it.
  • The money you borrow is a tax-free source of income.
  • This income does not affect the Old-Age Security (OAS) or Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) benefits you may be receiving.
  • You maintain ownership of your home.
  • You can decide how you want to receive the money. You can choose to receive:
    • a lump-sum payment
    • a loan to set up planned advances that provide you with a regular income
    • a combination of these options.


  • Reverse mortgages are subject to higher interest rates than most other types of mortgages.
  • The equity you hold in your home will decrease as the interest on your reverse mortgage accumulates over the years.
  • At your death, your estate will have to repay the loan and interest in full within a limited time. The time required to settle an estate can often exceed the time allowed to repay a reverse mortgage. For full details, check with the reverse mortgage lender.
  • Since the principal and interest will be repaid to the lender at your death, there will be less money in your estate to leave to your children or other heirs.
  • The costs associated with a reverse mortgage are usually quite high. They can include:
    • a higher interest rate than for a traditional mortgage or line of credit
    • a home appraisal fee, application fee or closing fee
    • a repayment penalty for selling your house or moving out within three years of obtaining a reverse mortgage
    • fees for independent legal advice.

For more information on reverse mortgages, read the tip sheet Understanding Reverse Mortgages.