Reverse Mortgage Rates And Penalties

Reverse mortgage rates and ‘what are your rates’ are very common questions that we get.

The problem is that rates are particular to an individual.

This is actually also the case for a traditional mortgage – just that most people don’t know this and many sites play a ‘bait and switch’ type game by advertising really low rates for you only then to find out that you ‘don’t qualify’ for that rate.

However, I would like to put some information out there regarding reverse mortgage rates in 2023.

I will also try to keep this regularly updated, so that the rates you see on this page are relatively accurate.

But First – What Is A Reverse Mortgage?

If you are new to the concept of a reverse mortgage, the best place to start – if you haven’t already got your copy – is to download our free guidebook on our reverse mortgage page. This explains the basic things you need to know about this type of home loan. With that out of the way…

How To Think About Rates, Home Equity And Calculate Your Numbers

Many folks get too caught up in current rates and don’t think about the long-term rates (and impact on your home equity).

In this video I walk you through how to think about reverse mortgage rates and plan the impact – showing you real life calculations, as well as how you can do your own for yourself:

What Are Current Reverse Mortgage Rates Right Now?

Currently rates are around 6.74% – 9.90% for a standard reverse mortgage.  For a standard 5 year fixed rate (the most popular rate option), you’re looking at around 6.84% – 7.59%.

As I mentioned above, the exact rate you get – as well as the amount you are eligible to borrow – will depend on several things:

  • Your age
  • The lender
  • The loan amount
  • The property location
  • Term and size of the mortgage
  • Fixed or variable rate

So there is no exact rate that can be quoted here.  However, they will not be too far off this.

If you’d like a free quote where we’ll find you the best rate from all the available lenders then click here and fill out our free 90 second assessment form.

How Do Reverse Mortgage Rates Compare To Other Products Right Now?

Again, the rates of other mortgage products and loans are both constantly changing and depend on what an individual qualifies for (if you qualify for anything at all).

Generally speaking, reverse mortgage rates tend to be around 1-2% higher than the prime, top level (best credit score & income) mortgage rates in Canada.

Just now you are looking at around 6.09% – 6.99% for a standard 5 year fixed rate mortgage (these are unlikely to go any lower at any point in future – and more likely to go up), 7.20% – 8.70% (variable) for a Home Equity Line Of Credit, 10% – 14% (variable) for a Line Of Credit (unsecured), between 10% – 20% for a personal loan and often higher than this for some credit cards and loans.

However, Rather than focusing on the specific number, this simple chart shows how rates compare to the other options out there:

How Reverse Mortgage Rates Compare

As you can see, reverse mortgage rates are actually much lower than many other traditional options out there – credit cards, loans, lines of credit (unsecured) or second mortgages.

This isn’t even considering some of the really unreasonable high interest options such as pay-day loans.

There are only 2 products that generally have a better rate – a HELOC / Home Equity Line of Credit (and even then sometimes their rates can be higher) and traditional ‘A client’ top mortgage rates.  Both of these require a good credit score, solid income and (of course) regular payments to pay the balances down.

And right now you can actually get a better rate on a reverse mortgage than a Home Equity Line Of Credit – if you’re paying more than Prime +0.5% on your Home Equity Line of Credit.

Furthermore, once you take away the products that require a good credit score and solid income (like a traditional mortgage or HELOC), reverse mortgages are actually among the best rates you can get.

And as of right now, the gap between a reverse mortgage rate and a traditional mortgage rate has actually never been lower (in the entire 10 years+ I’ve worked in reverse mortgages).

The gap right now between reverse mortgage rates and traditional rates is around 1-3%.  If you were to go back just one year, this gap would have been 4-5%!

You’re then comparing them to second mortgages, loans, unsecured line of credits, credit cards and similar products.  However, many of these still require solid income and a reasonable credit score – so really there isn’t a product out there that you can properly compare a reverse mortgage to in terms of interest rate.

But How Does The Interest You’re Paying Impact Your Home Equity?

The first thing to note – which is something that a lot of people miss or don’t understand – is that both a mortgage and Home Equity Line Of Credit also reduce your net worth.

Many people ignore this fact because they don’t ‘see’ the reduction of their net worth – because the interest is buried into the monthly payment and is paid every month.  Because the interest doesn’t accumulate, they don’t ‘see’ the interest adding up and it is easy to think it isn’t there.

Here is an example – purely for illustrative purposes only and approximations – of what the differences would be on a $100,000 loan for 5 years for the products and interest rates I mentioned above:

Cost Of $100k
(Approx. Interest
Over 5 Years)
Credit Card
$111,667
Personal Loan
$64,531
Line of Credit (Unsecured)
$44,763
Second Mortgage
$44,763
Home Equity Line Of Credit (HELOC)
$33,500
Reverse Mortgage
$30,596
Traditional Mortgage
$26,245

As you can see, a reverse mortgage is actually relatively close to a Home Equity Line of Credit and much better than many of the other products.  The only product that is considerably better is an ‘A level’ mortgage – which does of course require a good credit score, solid income and regularly repayments.

What About Compounding Interest?

It is important to note that every single mortgage in Canada compounds semi-annually.  A HELOC, on the other hand, compounds monthly.

So the impact of a HELOC interest will be more as it is compounded more regularly.  This is very important to be aware of.

Of course, your home equity growth can offset this interest cost – I’ll examine this further below.

In the meantime, as you can see, the cost of a reverse mortgage is higher than a ‘top’ mortgage or HELOC – but much lower than other options out there.

The best way to think about this is that this additional interest is a price you pay to get access to all the features this product has than a HELOC or top mortgage do not – you don’t need to make any payments, you are guaranteed to live in your home for life and can never lose it and you don’t need income or a top credit score to qualify for it.

So the question you have to ask yourself is: are these features all worth it?

What About Your Home Equity?

Another huge misconception is that a reverse mortgage will eat away your home equity.  This is only true if your home does not grow in value at all.

Almost every home in Canada is growing in value just now and close to 100% have been growing in value in the past 5 years.

How much does it need to grow to offset the reverse mortgage cost?  A neat trick is that the approximate amount your home needs to grow is at half of the interest rate.

This is because a reverse mortgage is taken out on up to 55% of your home.  Your home equity growth still compounds on 100% of your home.  So, because the mortgage balance is roughly half the size, your home equity growth only needs to be around half of the interest rate.

Here’s the quick math:

  • You take out a reverse mortgage on half your home at 5%
  • Your home simply needs to grow >2.5% per year to offset the interest – and your home equity will continue to go up.

The good news?  From 2020-2022 there are very few areas of Canada that have seen home prices grow less than 2.5% – in fact most of them have been considerably higher than this.

On top of that, if you take out less than 55% of your home value (since not everyone qualifies for the full 55% anyway), then your home equity growth can be less than half of the rate and you will still see your home equity growing over time.

To continue our example from above, let’s say your home was worth $250,000 and you took out the $100,000 loan mentioned above. Here is what your home equity growth on your $250,000 home would be over 5 years under various scenarios:

$250,000 Home Equity Growth
Over 5 Years
Home equity growth at 1%
$12,818
Home equity growth at 2%
$26,292
Home equity growth at 3%
$40,457
Home equity growth at 4%
$55,347
Home equity growth at 5%
$71,001
Home equity growth at 6%
$87,456

As you can see for this example – if you have a $250,000 property and $100,000 reverse mortgage – your home would only need to grow a little more than 2% to offset all of the interest (see the table above for the interest calculation).

And if your home were to grow above 2%, then you would actually gain home equity while having a reverse mortgage in this situation.

This might sound too good to be true, but many Canadians are in this position just now.  In fact, in the hottest areas of Canada, some owners have seen double digit home equity growth over the past 5 years!

What About Reverse Mortgage Penalties?

A few people ask us questions about this.  It is rare – because most people are taking this out because they want to live in their home for life and never leave.

However, for some, this can be a short term solution.

The golden rule for reverse mortgage penalties is that if you are paying it off after 5 years, the penalties are very small; in addition to this, the closer you are to 5 years, the lower the penalty will be.

This is actually very similar to the penalty structure of a ‘normal’ mortgage.  And, like with a ‘normal’ mortgage, you can also make what are called ‘prepayments‘.  However, again – like a ‘normal’ mortgage – you only get a certain allowance of these each year – in the case of a reverse mortgage that amount is 10% – meaning you can repay 10% of the balance without penalty every year.

Beyond this, here is how penalties work:

Penalty Calculation
Year 15% interest
Year 24% interest
Year 33% interest
Year 4-103 months interest
Year 10+No penalties

Compared to ‘normal’ mortgages these are pretty similar.

In fact, with a traditional mortgage you are subject to an early penalty called an ‘Interest Rate Differential’ (IRD) that can add up to a lot of money.  Many of the penalties from the ‘big 5 banks’ in Canada can add up to more than 5% – and that’s in year 3 too.  For more on the penalty rates of ‘normal’ mortgages, I suggest you read this guide.

It is also worth noting that there is absolutely no penalty in the event of the owners passing away and if the reason why you are moving is to move to a nursing home, the penalty is reduced by 50%.

I would say that the first year penalty is on the high end – as far as mortgage penalties go – but beyond that, these penalties are in line with most mortgage products and actually on the lower end compared to the IRD of the big 5 banks fixed rate mortgage products.

What About Other Costs In 2023?

Yes, rates are just one part of the costs of a reverse mortgage. For the other fees involved, I suggest you check out our article which will update you on the latest 2023 reverse mortgage costs and fees.

Reverse Mortgage Rates And Penalties In 2023 – Summary

I have outlined how reverse mortgage rates and penalties work, including comparing them to the alternative options out there.

When it comes to interest rate, they are a better option than loans, line of credits (unsecured) and credit cards.  However, Home Equity Line Of Credits (HELOCs) and ‘normal’ mortgages generally have better rates.

So the key question you must ask: is it worth my paying a higher rate to have access to these 3 benefits that a HELOC or ‘normal’ mortgage do not have?  Namely:

  • No monthly payments
  • You can’t lose your home – ever – for not making payments (since there aren’t any)
  • You don’t need income and a great credit score to qualify

The answer to that question will vary from person to person – it is up to you.

Finally, I looked at reverse mortgage penalties and outlined how these work.  I would say that, in my opinion, these penalties are very reasonable and the fact that there is no penalty upon death or after 5 years – as well as a reduced penalty if you have to move to a nursing home – then these are definitely a positive feature of the product, compared to others out there. For more on this check out our article top 8 misconceptions about reverse mortgages.

Got any questions or anything I missed?  Leave a comment below and I’ll answer any queries you have regarding reverse mortgage rates and penalties.

Get A Free Reverse Mortgage Assessment In 90 Seconds

You can get a free reverse mortgage assessment – from a Chartered Accountant – who’ll then advise you if this is a good solution for you, or if something better works.

All it takes is 90 seconds – click here to get started

What Are Current Reverse Mortgage Rates Right Now?

Currently rates are around 7.49% – 9.90% for a standard reverse mortgage.  For a 5 year fixed rate (the most popular rate option), you’re looking at 7.49% – 8.24%.

As I mentioned above, the exact rate you get – as well as the amount you are eligible to borrow – will depend on several things:

  • Your age
  • The lender
  • The loan amount
  • The property location
  • Term and size of the mortgage
  • Fixed or variable rate

So there is no exact rate that can be quoted here.  However, they will not be too far off this.

If you’d like a free quote where we’ll find you the best rate from all the available lenders then click here and fill out our free 90 second assessment form.

How Do Reverse Mortgage Rates Compare To Other Products Right Now?

Again, the rates of other mortgage products and loans are both constantly changing and depend on what an individual qualifies for (if you qualify for anything at all).

Just now you are looking at around 5.49% – 6.99% for a standard 5 year fixed rate mortgage (these are unlikely to go any lower at any point in future – and more likely to go up), 7.45% – 8.45% (variable) for a Home Equity Line Of Credit, 10% – 14% (variable) for a Line Of Credit (unsecured), between 10 – 20% for a personal loan and often higher than this for some credit cards and loans.

However, Rather than focusing on the specific number, this simple chart shows how rates compare to the other options out there:

How Reverse Mortgage Rates Compare

As you can see, reverse mortgage rates are actually much lower than many other traditional options out there – credit cards, loans, lines of credit (unsecured) or second mortgages.

This isn’t even considering some of the really unreasonable high interest options such as pay-day loans.

There are only 2 products that generally have a better rate – a HELOC / Home Equity Line of Credit (and even then they’re not that far off) and traditional ‘A client’ top mortgage rates.  Both of these require a good credit score, solid income and (of course) regular payments to pay the balances down.

Once you take away the products that require a good credit score and solid income, reverse mortgages are actually among the best rates you can get.

And as of right now, the gap between a reverse mortgage rate and a traditional mortgage / HELOC rate has actually never been lower (in the entire 10 years+ I’ve worked in reverse mortgages).

The gap right now between reverse mortgage rates and traditional rates/HELOC is around 2-3%.  If you were to go back just one year, this gap would have been 4-5%!

You’re then comparing them to second mortgages, loans, unsecured line of credits, credit cards and similar products.  However, many of these still require solid income and a reasonable credit score – so really there isn’t a product out there that you can properly compare a reverse mortgage to in terms of interest rate.

But How Does The Interest You’re Paying Impact Your Home Equity?

The first thing to note – which is something that a lot of people miss or don’t understand – is that both a mortgage and Home Equity Line Of Credit also reduce your net worth.

Many people ignore this fact because they don’t ‘see’ the reduction of their net worth – because the interest is buried into the monthly payment and is paid every month.  Because the interest doesn’t accumulate, they don’t ‘see’ the interest adding up and it is easy to think it isn’t there.

Here is an example – purely for illustrative purposes only and approximations – of what the differences would be on a $100,000 loan for 5 years for the products and interest rates I mentioned above:

Cost Of $100k
(Approx. Interest
Over 5 Years)
Credit Card
$111,667
Personal Loan
$64,531
Line of Credit (Unsecured)
$44,763
Second Mortgage
$44,763
Home Equity Line Of Credit (HELOC)
$33,500
Reverse Mortgage
$30,596
Traditional Mortgage
$26,245

As you can see, a reverse mortgage is actually relatively close to a Home Equity Line of Credit and much better than many of the other products.  The only product that is considerably better is an ‘A level’ mortgage – which does of course require a good credit score, solid income and regularly repayments.

What About Compounding Interest?

It is important to note that every single mortgage in Canada compounds semi-annually.  A HELOC, on the other hand, compounds monthly.

So the impact of a HELOC interest will be more as it is compounded more regularly.  This is very important to be aware of.

Of course, your home equity growth can offset this interest cost – I’ll examine this further below.

In the meantime, as you can see, the cost of a reverse mortgage is higher than a ‘top’ mortgage or HELOC – but much lower than other options out there.

The best way to think about this is that this additional interest is a price you pay to get access to all the features this product has than a HELOC or top mortgage do not – you don’t need to make any payments, you are guaranteed to live in your home for life and can never lose it and you don’t need income or a top credit score to qualify for it.

So the question you have to ask yourself is: are these features all worth it?

What About Your Home Equity?

Another huge misconception is that a reverse mortgage will eat away your home equity.  This is only true if your home does not grow in value at all.

Almost every home in Canada is growing in value just now and close to 100% have been growing in value in the past 5 years.

How much does it need to grow to offset the reverse mortgage cost?  A neat trick is that the approximate amount your home needs to grow is at half of the interest rate.

This is because a reverse mortgage is taken out on up to 55% of your home.  Your home equity growth still compounds on 100% of your home.  So, because the mortgage balance is roughly half the size, your home equity growth only needs to be around half of the interest rate.

Here’s the quick math:

  • You take out a reverse mortgage on half your home at 5%
  • Your home simply needs to grow >2.5% per year to offset the interest – and your home equity will continue to go up.

The good news?  From 2020-2022 there are very few areas of Canada that have seen home prices grow less than 2.5% – in fact most of them have been considerably higher than this.

On top of that, if you take out less than 55% of your home value (since not everyone qualifies for the full 55% anyway), then your home equity growth can be less than half of the rate and you will still see your home equity growing over time.

To continue our example from above, let’s say your home was worth $250,000 and you took out the $100,000 loan mentioned above. Here is what your home equity growth on your $250,000 home would be over 5 years under various scenarios:

$250,000 Home Equity Growth
Over 5 Years
Home equity growth at 1%
$12,818
Home equity growth at 2%
$26,292
Home equity growth at 3%
$40,457
Home equity growth at 4%
$55,347
Home equity growth at 5%
$71,001
Home equity growth at 6%
$87,456

As you can see for this example – if you have a $250,000 property and $100,000 reverse mortgage – your home would only need to grow a little more than 2% to offset all of the interest (see the table above for the interest calculation).

And if your home were to grow above 2%, then you would actually gain home equity while having a reverse mortgage in this situation.

This might sound too good to be true, but many Canadians are in this position just now.  In fact, in the hottest areas of Canada, some owners have seen double digit home equity growth over the past 5 years!

What About Reverse Mortgage Penalties?

A few people ask us questions about this.  It is rare – because most people are taking this out because they want to live in their home for life and never leave.

However, for some, this can be a short term solution.

The golden rule for reverse mortgage penalties is that if you are paying it off after 5 years, the penalties are very small; in addition to this, the closer you are to 5 years, the lower the penalty will be.

This is actually very similar to the penalty structure of a ‘normal’ mortgage.  And, like with a ‘normal’ mortgage, you can also make what are called ‘prepayments‘.  However, again – like a ‘normal’ mortgage – you only get a certain allowance of these each year – in the case of a reverse mortgage that amount is 10% – meaning you can repay 10% of the balance without penalty every year.

Beyond this, here is how penalties work:

Penalty Calculation
Year 15% interest
Year 24% interest
Year 33% interest
Year 4-103 months interest
Year 10+No penalties

Compared to ‘normal’ mortgages these are pretty similar.

In fact, with a traditional mortgage you are subject to an early penalty called an ‘Interest Rate Differential’ (IRD) that can add up to a lot of money.  Many of the penalties from the ‘big 5 banks’ in Canada can add up to more than 5% – and that’s in year 3 too.  For more on the penalty rates of ‘normal’ mortgages, I suggest you read this guide.

It is also worth noting that there is absolutely no penalty in the event of the owners passing away and if the reason why you are moving is to move to a nursing home, the penalty is reduced by 50%.

I would say that the first year penalty is on the high end – as far as mortgage penalties go – but beyond that, these penalties are in line with most mortgage products and actually on the lower end compared to the IRD of the big 5 banks fixed rate mortgage products.

What About Other Costs In 2023?

Yes, rates are just one part of the costs of a reverse mortgage. For the other fees involved, I suggest you check out our article which will update you on the latest 2023 reverse mortgage costs and fees.

Reverse Mortgage Rates And Penalties In 2023 – Summary

I have outlined how reverse mortgage rates and penalties work, including comparing them to the alternative options out there.

When it comes to interest rate, they are a better option than loans, line of credits (unsecured) and credit cards.  However, Home Equity Line Of Credits (HELOCs) and ‘normal’ mortgages generally have better rates.

So the key question you must ask: is it worth my paying a higher rate to have access to these 3 benefits that a HELOC or ‘normal’ mortgage do not have?  Namely:

  • No monthly payments
  • You can’t lose your home – ever – for not making payments (since there aren’t any)
  • You don’t need income and a great credit score to qualify

The answer to that question will vary from person to person – it is up to you.

Finally, I looked at reverse mortgage penalties and outlined how these work.  I would say that, in my opinion, these penalties are very reasonable and the fact that there is no penalty upon death or after 5 years – as well as a reduced penalty if you have to move to a nursing home – then these are definitely a positive feature of the product, compared to others out there. For more on this check out our article top 8 misconceptions about reverse mortgages.

Got any questions or anything I missed?  Leave a comment below and I’ll answer any queries you have regarding reverse mortgage rates and penalties.

Get A Free Reverse Mortgage Assessment In 90 Seconds

You can get a free reverse mortgage assessment – from a Chartered Accountant – who’ll then advise you if this is a good solution for you, or if something better works.

All it takes is 90 seconds – click here to get started.

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