Why Are People So Resistant to Reverse Mortgages?

Resource Networking MeetingI was at a resource provider network meeting the other morning when a Minnesota County government agency talked about their financial and foreclosure counseling services.  When I mentioned they should keep in mind that a reverse mortgage should be considered for homeowners over 62 the response was resistance.  Here’s how the conversation went.

Me: “Keep in mind that a reverse mortgage may be an option for your clients who are homeowners 62 and over.”

Agency: “Our clients don’t qualify for a reverse mortgage.”

Me: “Why do you say that?  Are they homeowners 62 and over?”

Agency with hesitancy: “Some, but not many.”

Me: “Well for those 62 and over a reverse mortgage may help them.”

Agency, again with hesitancy: “They are in foreclosure.”

Me: “But a reverse mortgage may help save their home from foreclosure.”

Agency, defensively: “But one spouse may not be 62.”

Me: “The requirement is that both borrowers be 62 so the younger one would need to be removed from the title, and while that is risky and not normally recommended, if it’s a matter of losing their home or being able to stay in their home, the reverse mortgage may be an option.  It’s at least worth considering.*”

*I suggest they talk with an attorney so they are aware of the risks of removing a younger person from the title.

Agency: “But there may not be enough funds to pay off their mortgage.”

Me: “We can work with the banks to negotiate them taking the reverse mortgage proceeds as a payoff.  It’s been done where the banks accept the reverse mortgage as a payoff.  It can be a challenge but it is at least worth a discussion and a try.  We have done some amazing things.

“All I’m saying is that instead of saying there aren’t options, we can’t help, the reverse mortgage should at least considered as an option and explored for those over 62.”

This conversation raises the question, why are people resistant to reverse mortgages when it can make such a difference in the lives of seniors?

Are they so hung up that it’s not their agency solving the problem they don’t think anyone can?  Or is it they don’t want someone else to help?  Are they afraid that someone else can help and they can’t?  Is it because their funding depends on them solving the problem and it’s more beneficial to them to not help and not provide all options?  Is it because they are a non-profit government agency and we are a private for-profit company?  Is it they don’t think I should get paid for my services (after all as a government non-profit agency and as paid staff they are making a salary with sick days and vacation days while I’m commissioned, no paid sick or vacation days.)?  Or is it they just don’t understand reverse mortgages?

I don’t understand why they or others wouldn’t want to offer an option that may benefit the seniors even if it’s not their program that solves the problem.  Even if it helps just one person/couple, isn’t it worth it?

A reverse mortgage is a mortgage that has special terms for those 62 and older to use their equity while they still own and live in the home.  Income and credit aren’t considered to qualify for an interest rate and monthly payments are not required during the term of the loan.  The loan is due when the home is no longer the primary residence of the borrower(s).

The most common reverse mortgage, and only one available in Minnesota, is the HUD Home Equity Conversion Mortgage or HECM which is insured by FHA.  The borrowers pay a FHA Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP).

When the loan is being paid off, the borrower or the estate keep any difference between the loan balance and the sale price.  As a non-recourse loan, if the loan balance is higher than the sale price on the home, the lender is repaid the fair market value and the borrower doesn’t have to pay the difference – the FHA MIP covers the difference. The loan documents spell out there is no personal liability to the borrower or their estate, unlike conventional mortgages that can get funds from the estate to cover the loan balance.

One of the other meeting attendees commented to me after the meeting, “It appears they don’t really care to be helping people.”  That’s a sad impression to give when you are an agency paid to help the community.

I believe we all need to work together and offer options to help, whether non-profit, government or private for-profit.  If the reverse mortgage is considered and explored but is not the right option, I want to be able to know about other options and people who may help so I can do referrals to someone who might be able to assist them.  This is why I attend provider network meetings to learn about resources and options.

I wish others wouldn’t be so resistant to reverse mortgages when they can make such a difference for seniors.

© 2012 Beth Paterson, Beth’s Reverse Mortgage Blog, 651-762-9648

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