For several years, starting in 2005, Live Well was a small company offering reverse mortgages in Virginia. As competitors dropped out of the market, Live Well has grown and now operates in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. While it's one of the biggest lenders of home equity conversion mortgages (HECM) — it ranked No. 7 in volume in 2017 — Live Well hasn't attracted many of the negative headlines of its competitors.
Live Well's recently redesigned website is focused on directing potential customers to calling a representative or signing up to be sent more information. The site defines HECM loans and the process of obtaining one in simple, positive terms with few details, particularly in terms of closing costs, fees, and restrictions. Even the information packet, which you can receive by mail or download only after giving your address, phone number, and estimated home value, presents much more about how you can spend your loan money than what you need to do to get it and keep it.
Though Live Well has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and there are no outstanding actions against the company, several people have made complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau saying they feel they (or their loved one) were talked into an HECM without fully understanding its consequences. Others said the company paid their property taxes early and demanded repayment immediately or the loan would go into default.
Fixed-rate lump sum disbursement: The interest rate remains the same for the life of the loan (great if it's low when you apply), but you can only receive your loan in one lump sum, which will be determined by your home equity, your age, and the first-year draw limit (60 percent of the loan total).
Adjustable-rate term disbursement: You can receive the amount of your loan in fixed monthly payments for a set number of months, but the interest rate will be variable from year to year or month to month, based on the London Interbank Offer Rate (LIBOR).
Tenured: You can receive a set amount of money from your loan every month for the life of your loan (calculated by assuming you will live to 99), and the rate varies based on the LIBOR.
Line of credit: Instead of receiving your loan payment upfront, you can leave it as a line of credit, and the amount you don't draw down will grow with compound interest each year, based on the LIBOR.
Combination: This adjustable-rate loan can be a combination of all of the above, at the adjustable rate based on LIBOR.
HECM for Purchase: This type of loan allows you to buy a new home directly with a reverse mortgage.
Live Well also recently got into the "forward" mortgage market, offering standard options for purchasing a new home or refinancing, should you decide that you would rather pay down your debt than obtain a reverse mortgage.