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A reverse mortgage is a way for homeowners to get equity out of their home if it's already paid off. Reverse mortgages are typically used by retirees who need cash. A lender pays you a certain amount each month, based on the equity in your home and how long you expect to need the income. The funds come from the equity in your home, so when the home is sold, either by the owner or by the heirs, the lender is paid back from the proceeds.