You must be 62 years or older. All borrowers on property title and the HECM must also be 62 years or older.
And because a HECM must be, under the rules, a first position mortgage on your primary residence (and with some exceptions, FHA will not generally allow a debt to be subordinated to it), you must have sufficient equity in your home (based on the appraisal) to payoff existing mortgages or any delinquent Federal debt. The government doesn’t want to lend you money and give you certain guarantees if you are already delinquent with them. If the HECM you can qualify for is less than your existing mortgage and Federal debt then to get the loan, you have the option to bring cash into the closing to satisfy a remaining balance.
In addition, and critically, you need to have demonstrated both a capacity and a willingness to meet your previous and future mortgage obligations (including tax and insurance) and also other contractual payments (like a car loan). The lender completes a Financial Assessment to address these two elements.
So, underwriting a HECM requires an appraisal, validation of income or other resources that demonstrates you can reach the minimum income required, and a review of your credit history to evaluate your desire to meet your obligations. Valuation. Capacity. Willingness.
And you must be counseled.