“I now have peace of mind.” “This really helps out a great deal and solves many problems.” “My friend is a changed man.” “You’re an angel.” “You’re sent from heaven.” “What a mission you do.” These are words I have heard from people who have a reverse mortgage.
Seniors may have many years behind them, but they still have many valuable years ahead of them with some important living to do. Yet they often find it difficult living on a fixed income. Sylvia wrote me, “As a senior citizen, I had been having some concerns with my finances. Being on a limited income made much needed household repairs and property tax payments very difficult to meet. I was going to have to make a choice soon about whether to continue to live in my house, or move in to an apartment. The costs of continuing to live in my home were getting beyond my means, but I wasn’t ready to leave the home that I had raised my children in.” She decided to use the equity in her house to make life easier and meet the financial obligations that she had.
A reverse mortgage is a loan that enables homeowners age 62 and older to receive cash out of their home (in the form of a monthly check, line of credit or lump sum of cash), with no monthly payments and no repayment due until the homeowner permanently leaves the home. As long as the homeowner is 62 or older and lives in their home with enough equity to pay off any current mortgages or liens, and the home meets HUD’s minimum property standards, they qualify for a reverse mortgage – there are no income or credit qualifications. Currently the only program is the FHA HECM (Home Equity Conversion Mortgage) which is insured by HUD.
People have lived in their homes for many years and have many memories there. They’re familiar with their surroundings and want to stay in their home. Moving into an apartment can be expensive and the money from their home sale will only pay rent for a certain number of years. The reverse mortgage helps seniors stay in their home, remain independent, and maintain or improve their lifestyle, and have the financial means to fulfill their goals and dreams. Ed, one reverse mortgage borrower, says, “The reverse mortgage is great. It gives us some elbow room.”
Those who do a reverse mortgage use the cash they receive for reasons ranging from paying for everyday living expenses to supplementing their current income. A reverse mortgage can eliminate current mortgage payments, provide cash to pay bills, fulfill dreams, meet goals, travel, or take on new hobbies. Some people want to make home repairs or afford to go out to eat with friends more often. Helping pay for grandchildren’s education, covering medical expenses, or paying long term care insurance premiums are other ways cash from a reverse mortgage is used.
Now with the interest rates so low, those who are relying on the interest from their CDs are suffering. People who were counting on their investments for their retirement are also struggling with their finances. More and more people turning to the reverse mortgage to supplement their income who thought they would be financially stable in their retirement years.
The cash received is considered tax-free and Social Security and Medicare benefits are not affected. It is possible to receive public benefits (Medical Assistance, food stamps, or county home health care) and still do a reverse mortgage. However, Social Security Administration, legal services, and/or tax consultant should be consulted for each particular situation.
Often children aren’t even aware that their parents are struggling to make ends meet at the end of the month. After they had closed on the reverse mortgage, one couple I know confided to their daughter that they used to go three days at the end of the month without food or even milk. Now they have the money to live comfortably and even take their children out to eat once in awhile.
Bernadette wrote me after closing on her reverse mortgage stating, “With joy and delight I have felt hope and even vision anew in knowing that this home belongs to me. It comes with a challenge for me to realize that I am accountable in using these funds to achieve goals otherwise not possible.”
The reverse mortgage answers prayers for many by helping them maintain their lifestyle, have security, independence, dignity, and control while they are still living. For me, it is a
ministry and rewarding to be able to assist seniors to stay in their home and have security, independence, dignity, and control.
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