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Retirement Planning Tool: Extend Your Retirement Funds with Standby Reverse Mortgage

shutterstock_Retirement Exit Only 64009777

Larry Benton, CSA
The Reverse Advisor
April 30, 2015


In the past, the main purpose of a Reverse Mortgage was to help seniors to fulfill cash needs by allowing them to pull the equity in their homes.  But today, many seniors are finding that even if they don’t particularly need to fulfill a cash need, they can take advantage of the benefits of a reverse mortgage as a tool to use strategically in retirement planning.  Here are 8 ways a reverse mortgage be used as a financial planning tool.

  1. You can delay Social Security and pension payouts

Some seniors may financially need to use payouts from Social Security and pensions as soon as they are available.  However, with the tax-free cash from your reverse mortgage, you will be financially sound enough to wait on receiving those payouts, thus increasing how much you receive.

  1. You can draw on tax-free funds to reduce tax liability

Income from a reverse mortgage is tax-free!  This cannot be said for many other types of income you may earn.  So it is a great advantage to be able to use your home’s equity as income, without losing a cent of it to taxes.

  1. You can postpone drawing down retirement assets, giving assets more time to grow

This idea follows the same formula as your Social Security and Pension payouts.  The longer you can delay in receiving your benefits, the longer they have to grow.  With a reverse mortgage, you can afford to wait.

  1. You can increase your cash flow by eliminating monthly mortgage payments

Every month, a monthly mortgage payment takes a chunk out from your income.  But with a reverse mortgage, your existing mortgage is paid off.  This leaves you with extra money in your pocket that would have normally gone to paying your existing mortgage.

  1. You have access to a low cost, non-cancelable, GROWING line of credit

With a reverse mortgage, you have an ever-growing line of credit available to you.  It grows with time.  This means that the line of credit available to you years from now will be much larger than the line of credit available to you now… and, unlike a bank HELOC, is non-cancelable.

  1. Standby Reverse Mortgage (SRM): You can protect your portfolio performance in a down market**

In a down market, your portfolio and cash flow may not be at its peak performance.  Many Retirement Planners recommend two buckets 1) Retirement Asset Funds and 2) Reserve Cash account to use when market conditions depress earnings; these planners are now recommending a SRM as a third bucket in the event of extended market lags (or a 2nd bucket where no cash reserves exist). With two (or three) retirement buckets, a reverse mortgage acts as the buffer, the incoming funds are able to protect you until the market picks back up again, and then the Standby Reverse Mortgage can be replenished… extending retirement funds longer.

  1. You can have annuity-style payments using your home’s equity

With a reverse mortgage, you are able to choose the option of receiving your funds in annuity-style payments.  These can supplement your existing income This is perfect for some types of people who would rather plan their income as a steady flow.

  1. You can replace cash reserves

Some people have less cash in reserve than they would like.  A reverse mortgage gives you the chance to catch up and replace your cash reserves, getting you up to speed financially, and these reserves grow over time..

These are just a few examples of how you can use a reverse mortgage as a strategic tool.  With the right plan in place, you will be well on your way to a solid retirement.

** Analytical witepapers by John Salter, PhD, CFP available by request:
1) “Tap into Potential Retirement Wealth Utilizing the HECM”    2014
2) “Standby Reverse Mortgages: A Risk Management Tool for Retirement Distributions”  2013

Contact:
Larry Benton, CSA
lbenton@ufaadvisors.com
877.805.2905

 

 

Reverse Mortgages Can Benefit Retirees, Both Wealthy and Not

Move Can Help Retirees Keep Investments Until Right Time to Sell

By Kelly Greene, WSJ
Jan 16, 2014 4:29 p.m. ET

Home = Cash 2Reverse mortgages aren’t just for people struggling to keep their homes anymore.

The loans also can work for well-heeled retirees looking for a buffer to keep them from selling investments at the wrong time, according to academic researchers. And Congress last month gave a boost to the type of reverse mortgage that works best for that purpose.

Reverse mortgages let homeowners who are at least 62 years old borrow against their home equity. The loans don’t have to be used for a specific purpose, but typically are used for home modifications, repairs, medical expenses or home care that elderly people might not otherwise be able to afford.

The loan is due, with interest, when homeowners move out, sell the home, die or fail to pay property taxes or homeowner’s insurance premiums. The homeowner’s heirs typically sell the house, pay the balance and keep whatever is left. At least 595,000 households have an outstanding reverse-mortgage loan, according to the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association, a Washington industry group.

In the past, many financial planners recommended reverse mortgages for their clients only as a last resort because fees were relatively high—as much as 5% of the loan amount. That changed a few years ago, when a new product was developed by the industry and insured by the Federal Housing Administration called the HECM Saver, which typically has lower upfront borrowing costs than earlier types of reverse mortgages. (HECM stands for “home equity conversion mortgage.”)

With lower borrowing costs, some planners are finding new ways to use reverse mortgages to avoid selling depressed investments or to lower tax bills. “Retirement is really about cash flow,” says Martin James, a certified public accountant in Mooresville, Ind. “Even for a person who’s got their mortgage paid off, it’s nice to have a line of credit sitting there.”

Earlier this year, the HECM program was eyed by federal lawmakers as a financial risk to the FHA, and lawmakers considered curtailing the program. The bill, passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama, is intended to give the Department of Housing and Urban Development the leeway to make changes to keep the program going, probably after Oct. 1, says Peter Bell, chief executive of the lenders’ group.

Getting a reverse mortgage takes some due diligence on the part of homeowners and their families. Big-name banks largely quit the business in the aftermath of the financial crisis, leaving smaller companies and independent brokers to make the loans. Some financial advisers have been accused by regulators of encouraging elderly homeowners to put their reverse-mortgage proceeds into questionable investments, such as annuities with steep penalties for cashing in.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said last year that it would coordinate with other regulators to root out reverse-mortgage scams, monitor the market closely for deceptive and abusive practices and consider further measures. Interested in tapping your home as a security blanket?A few things to consider:

 Your house could be a reliable credit line. If your home-equity line of credit gets canceled, a reverse mortgage might be a good substitute.

Three certified financial planners at Texas Tech University in Lubbock and Edinboro University of Pennsylvania published a paper last year in the Journal of Financial Planning that recommends using a reverse-mortgage line of credit to meet retirement-income needs during a big market drop, rather than selling investments. “A few years ago, we were starting to get calls from clients saying, ‘Hey, my line of credit’s been canceled.’ They have plenty of resources, but that was an emergency pot of money,” says John Salter, the paper’s lead author. “It doesn’t do you much good if the bank’s going to pull it before you need it.”

The researchers used what they called a “standby” reverse-mortgage strategy, meaning the reverse-mortgage line of credit served as a source of readily available cash when retirees’ portfolio values dropped below the level where they could meet their goals.

Using a portfolio worth $500,000 and a home value of $250,000, among other assumptions, the researchers found that using a reverse mortgage’s line of credit significantly improved the chances the portfolio would last through the retiree’s lifetime, because it reduced the risk of having to sell investments when they had fallen in value.

Tapping home equity could lower tax bills. Some retirees pay off their mortgages with taxable withdrawals from their 401(k) or other accounts. Yet they might be able to lower their income taxes by using reverse mortgages to pay off their traditional mortgages, Mr. James says, if they have substantial equity. That means they wouldn’t need to withdraw as much tax-deferred retirement savings, which are subject to income tax and can bump retirees into higher tax brackets.

Plus, without investment distributions needed to make mortgage payments, they might be able to keep their overall incomes under the income threshold at which Social Security retirement benefits are taxed, Mr. James says.

He also is looking at using reverse mortgages as a “bridge” to Social Security, allowing retirees to delay taking Social Security and increase the size of their monthly payments—and those of a surviving spouse—down the road.

Consult an expert. Before you start talking to lenders, consider getting advice from a reverse-mortgage counselor certified by HUD to learn more about the options and mechanics. The National Council on Aging and other nonprofit groups sometimes offer such counseling, often at reduced rates.

There is a directory of reverse-mortgage counselors at hud.gov. Click on “Talk to a Housing Counselor” and then “Search online for a housing counseling agency near you.”

Keep the kids in the loop. When Mr. James broaches the idea of a reverse mortgage with clients, “the first thing they do is wrinkle their nose,” he says. One big reason: Many parents want to leave their home, often their biggest asset, to their children as their inheritance.

Mr. Salter acknowledges that leveraging the family home can be “a touchy subject.”

Still, he contends that many adult children “don’t really want the house” and that they are eager for their parents to use their assets to have “a better rest of their life.”

Besides, Mr. James says, “you still have costs associated with selling the house. You may not get as much as you think you’re going to.”

“Using a reverse mortgage allows for a little more diversification,” meaning retirees could leave other investments with potential for better returns to their families, Mr. James says.

“My first answer, when people ask how to approach the kids, is to ask them if they have an extra room in their house for their parents,” Mr. Salter says.

 

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“RightSize” New Home with a Reverse Mortgage?

bigstock-Sold-Home-For-Sale-Sign-Home-1893969According to recent National Association of Realtors figures, last year over 26% of homes were sold to homebuyers over the age of 50. And as the peak bulge of the boomer generation approaches retirement, the number of older homebuyers is expected to rise dramatically until it makes up the largest homebuyer cohort in American history.

But not everyone heading into retirement is certain they want to move, and a question I am commonly asked is, “Should we refinance the home we’re in, or buy something with less upkeep?”

Obviously I don’t know – but I have accumulated quite a body of knowledge regarding what retiring boomers take into consideration. Following is a starting point for things to consider:

1.     Is your existing home safe for the long-term, including layout and accessibility to bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen and laundry?
2.     Is the home the right configuration? How about size?
3.     Is the amount of yard and household maintenance appropriate?
4.     Is the location still right, meaning are you close to family and friends?
5.     Have traffic patterns gotten dangerous?
6.     Are you close to doctors, shopping, amenities, recreation, and your house of worship?
7.     Do you still know your neighbors?
8.     Will this still be the right house in 10 years? How about in 15?

If you answer a significant number of these “no,” moving might be a logical consideration. However, anyone who recently has applied for a home loan knows lending laws and regulations have become akin to major surgery. And for those looking to retire soon, or who have already retired, securing a loan can be very difficult.

However, FHA’s seniors’-only HECM for Purchase was specifically designed with the retired – or soon to be retired – buyer in mind. While there are qualifications that must be met, they are not as stringent as those governing “forward” lending.

A highly beneficial feature of HECM for Purchase is that you can buy your new home before you have sold your exit home. Not only does this get you into your new home in a timely fashion, but you now have time to market your exit home and wait for the next peak sales season to roll around before selling.

But perhaps best of all, rather than tying up a significant amount of your financial resources in the new house by doing an all-cash purchase, you bring to the table only a percentage of the purchase price, which allows you to keep liquid more of your savings, or more cash from the sale of your exit home.

 

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Retirement Planning in the Age of Longevity

To the degree that people reach old age mentallysharp, physically fit, and financially secure, the problems of individual and societal aging fall away.”
— Laura L. Carstensen, Founding Director
Stanford Center on Longevity

reverse mortgage news

Amara Rose   November 19, 2013

According to a recent Stanford Study on planning for retirement at a time when we’re living longer than ever before, confidence in the ability to retire comfortably — or even to retire at all — is at a new low. Pitfalls include:

  • Failing to plan for retirement
  • Underestimating expenses
  • Underestimating the number of years they will be retired
  • Retiring too early
  • Failing to save

The biggest challenge is failing to plan for retirement at all, researchers say. Only a third of adults in their 50s have ever tried to devise a retirement plan…and only two-thirds of those who have tried have succeeded.

Even among those who do save, fear of limited resources tops the list of retirement concerns. According to a Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2013 Workplace Benefits Report, in a nationwide survey of more than 1000 employees from companies of all sizes:

  • 80% experienced an increase in health care costs in last two years (this may change under the Affordable Care Act)
  • 56% are saving less for retirement as a result
  • 85% feel they’re not saving enough
  • 60% believe it will be “very difficult” to ever save enough to support their standard of living once they retire
  • 79% would give up 5% or more of their salary if it meant having reliable income to help them live comfortably during their later years (38% would give up 10% of their salary — or more).

Though neither research report mentions reverse mortgage as a viable option for older adults once they reach retirement age, given the monetary concerns now facing those in late middle age or nearing retirement, this group appears to be a ripe market to consider the possibility, assuming someone owns a home with sufficient equity to qualify.

Yet continuing to earn isn’t the only reason for seniors to postpone retirement, says U.S. News & World Report, which suggests there are a number of good reasons to retire the idea of retirement for a while yet, such as:

  • Enjoying one’s job. While boss-bashing makes for humorous cartoons and water cooler conversation, people who love what they do need not retire just because they reach a certain age. Boomers, especially, are aging (and perceive aging) much differently than previous generations. A professional hair stylist, for example, is still booked months ahead because she takes time off to travel. At 67, she has no plans to retire anytime soon.
  • Improved health. Contrary to popular belief, working longer may actually enhance later life health: one study of nearly half a million French workers found that every additional year of work before retirement lowered the risk of dementia 3.2 percent.
  • Marital accord. Women have long maintained that once their husbands retire they’re underfoot all day and at loose ends, which can wreak havoc on a marriage. The longer at least one partner continues working, the better it may be for marital harmony. The extra income is a bonus.

By balancing data on the necessity of planning for retirement with the positives about continuing to work, you can present a more informed picture to potential reverse mortgage prospects to help them make the best possible decision for a secure future in the age of longevity.

About the author: Amara Rose View all posts by Amara Rose is a personal and business coach with a broad background in health and positive aging. She holds a social welfare degree with a gerontology emphasis from Penn State, and has written extensively about senior housing, elder health and nutrition, lifelong learning, and the spiritual dimension of aging. A seasoned marketing copywriter, Amara has wordsmithed everything from blogs to brochures to web content. Contact Amara at amara@liveyourlight.com to learn more.
 

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A great reverse mortgage idea: Take a credit line now

Money in home 1August 22nd, 2013  |  by Elizabeth Ecker Published in Reverse Mortgage

I’ve got a financial proposal that is probably going to surprise you. Take out a reverse mortgage at age 62, even though you don’t need the money. In fact, take it especially if you don’t need the money. There will never be a better time. Terms will change in October, but the light is still green for people who want to use the strategy described here.

Reverse mortgages are called Home Equity Conversion Loans (HECMs). They’re designed to provide you with cash at a later age, to help pay your bills if your other savings run out. Normally, the smart play is to wait until your mid-70s or early 80s to take the loan. For some readers, this remains the right choice, as I’ll explain below.

But there’s a valuable new opportunity at hand, for borrowers who don’t need extra money now. You borrow as early as age 62 and take the mortgage in the form of a credit line instead of all-cash. You can borrow against the credit line at any time, but you don’t have to take the money now. More important, this credit line grows every year – greatly increasing your borrowing power in the future.

Before I go any further, let me give you some HECM facts:

At present, the credit line comes with one of two adjustable-rate loans – the HECM Standard, which provides a larger loan, and the HECM Saver.

With HECMS, you don’t have to make monthly payments, as you do with a regular loan. The mortgage doesn’t come due until you leave your home permanently. When the house is finally sold, the proceeds go first to repay what you borrowed, plus the accumulated interest. If there’s money left over, it goes to you or your heirs. If the house sells for less than the loan amount, the Federal Housing Administration, which insures HECMs, covers the lender’s loss.

Why take a HECM now? Because mortgage interest rates are so remarkably low. The lower the rates, the more you can borrow against your home equity. If interest rates rise, five or 10 years from now, you won’t be able to borrow nearly as much.

As an example, take a mortgage-free house worth $300,000. At this writing, a 62-year-old could get a $152,658 credit line on a HECM Standard, at an interest rate of 4.07 percent (including the mortgage insurance premium). If rates rise by 3 percentage points, you could borrow only $77,659. With a Saver ARM, which charges lower fees, you could borrow $131,029 today but only $47,329 if rates rise go 3 points higher..

But – and this is a big but – borrowers should not take out the full amount in cash. You’d be leaving nothing to help pay your bills in your older age. If you’re a spender, don’t take a HECM until your mid-70s or 80s.

If you won’t spend all the money now, a HECM credit line gives you tremendous financial flexibility. You owe interest only on the amount you actually borrow. For example, if you use $10,000 to take a trip, interest is charged on that modest amount, not on the entire credit line.

The magic in a HECM credit line is that your borrowing power isn’t fixed, says Jack Guttentag, founder of Mtgprofessor.com, a comprehensive mortgage information site. Your available credit rises every year, by roughly the mortgage interest rate.

For example, take that Saver $131,029 credit line. If mortgage rates plus insurance stay at today’s 4.07 percent , your borrowing power will rise to $196,710 10 years from now (assuming you’ve taken no money out). On the Standard, you could get as much as $229,182. The higher rates go, the more you can borrow.

As for the HECM’s upfront fees, I consider them worth it. They let you nail down a large pool of future borrowing power, at a time when inflation will have driven your expenses up. Our sample HECM Saver would cost about $5,771 and the HECM Standard, about $11,741. The fees can be rolled into the loan.

For a quick look at how much you might be able to borrow with a HECM, check the calculator at reversemortgage.org.

So what’s happening in October? The government will merge the Standard and Saver into a single program, says Peter Bell, head of the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association. Limits will be placed on the amount of cash a borrower can take out in the first year. But you’ll still be able to take the maximum in a credit line. The fee might be a tad higher but all the benefits will still be there.

 

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As Housing Market Thaws, Seniors Once Again Willing to Move

bigstock-Sold-Home-For-Sale-Sign-Home-1893969A surge in consumer confidence, rising home prices and sales, and faster selling times for properties on the market are all positive signs for the senior housing industry. It’s enough to make some market analysts believe seniors have finally reached the seventh stage of recovering from housing market-related grief: acceptance and hope.

“About two years ago the market was in shock, going through the stages of grief, aligned with the housing market,” says Michael Starke, owner and managing director of senior market feasibility firm PMD Advisory Services, LLC. “They were in [the] denial, bargaining [stages]. But now the majority have moved into a period of acceptance. There is a lot more willingness on the part of the senior to start looking at moving. They’re more confident about the ability to sell their home.”

Part of that includes adjusted expectations as to what their homes are worth, he adds, and based on more than 100 focus groups PMD Advisory has conducted on about 1,500 seniors around the country, many now feel they can sell and get a fair deal—even if it’s less than what they might have gotten four to five years ago.

“It’s a trend I’m excited about,” Starke said. “Seniors seem to be in a place of acceptance about their economic situation and their home values. The activity level is starting to move, and that’s a really good sign.”

Existing home sales rose in April to the highest level since November 2009, according to the National Association of Realtors, up 9.7% from the previous year.

Properties are also selling more quickly, on the market for a median 46 days in April compared to 62 days just one month prior—the fewest days since the NAR started monitoring it in May 2011.

The slow but steady recovery of the housing market is good news for the senior living industry, and Chris McGraw, senior research analyst at the National Investment Center (NIC) for the Seniors Housing & Care Industry, noted that existing home sales are a better indicator for the independent living market than are home prices.

“At one point in time, the relationship [between housing prices and occupancy] was very strong during 2006 and 2009 when pretty much all economic data was plummeting,” said McGraw. ”Since 2009, the relationship hasn’t been quite as strong, because when you’re looking at occupancy, there are a whole lot of factors going into play.”

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Chart credit: NIC—NIC MAP & Case-Shiller Home Price Indices 

Since bottoming out at 86.8% in the third quarter of 2009, independent living reached 89.3% as of the end of the first quarter of 2013, according to NIC data. Meanwhile, home prices increased 12.1% in April 2013 compared to the previous year—the most in more than seven years, according to CoreLogic.

However, independent living census is still below pre-recession peaks of 92.5%, reached in the fourth quarter of 2005 and again in the first quarter of 2007, and while there appears to be a correlation between occupancy and home prices on the recovery side, there’s more to the picture.

“Housing does play a piece, but it’s not the sole driver,” McGraw says of independent living occupancy.

The supply of new units is one piece of the puzzle, according to him, along with the performance of the stock market and its impact on seniors’ retirement portfolios, employment rates, consumer confidence, and the economy in general.

New construction for senior living stalled almost completely in the wake of the recession, but with a robust U.S. stock market spurred by low interest rates, capital is less constrained, say developers.

Another positive: consumer confidence reached a six-year high in May of 84.5 on the Thomson-Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index.

“The surge in consumer confidence is exactly the type of economic jumpstart the Federal Reserve intended to result from its aggressive policies,” said Richard Curtin, chief economist at Surveys of Consumers at Thomson-Reuters/University of Michigan, in a statement.

But there are caveats, including unemployment rates hovering at 7.6% through May 2013 and a recent report from the St. Louis Federal Reserve finding that household wealth still lags behind pre-recession levels when factoring in inflation.

“It will take actual and repeated income increases,” Curtain said, “rather than simply a renewed optimistic outlook for consumers to permanently revise their income expectations upward.”

 

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Study: 90% of Boomers Report Retirement Losses of $117,00+

Alyssa Gerace | June 11, 2013 Money

From low interest rates to lower-than-expected home equity, the Great Recession took a major toll on baby boomers’ nest eggs in a few ways that helped derail retirement plans, according to an Ameriprise Financial survey.

Ameriprise surveyed a group of 50- to 70-year-olds with at least $100,000 in cash savings and found that 90% reported experiencing at least one economic or life event that negatively impacted their retirement savings by an average of $117,000.

Another 40% said they were hit by five or more unexpected events, with average losses totaling $144,000.

“The lesson that we are taking away is expect the unexpected,” said Suzanna de Baca, vice president of wealth strategies at Ameriprise Financial, in the report.

The most commonly cited “derailer” stemming from the Great Recession? Low interest rates, according to 63% those surveyed, which have impaired the growth of retirement assets (63%)

Other top derailers for retirement savings, according to Ameriprise, have been market declines (55%) and lower-than-expected home equity (33%). Retirement prospects for another 18% were compromised by job loss, while 23% cited supporting grown children or grandchildren as a derailer.

“The financial fallout from these events can be dramatic, costing Americans an average of $117,000 in savings,” said de Baca, adding that affluent individuals with investable assets of $750,000 or more took an average $177,000 hit.

As a result, nearly half of those surveyed reported less retirement savings than they had expected. Only 18% said their nest egg is larger than expected.

The research uncovered an “alarming” trend, says Ameriprise: As a whole, Americans nearing retirement are underprepared. The survey uncovered an approximately $250,000 gap between what respondents think they need to retire, and what they’ve actually set aside. More than half said they wished they had started saving earlier.

However, only 35% believe their ability to afford essentials in retirement will be affected ‘a lot’ or ‘a fair amount,’ while more than two-thirds still charactizer their road to retirement as ‘smooth’ rather than ‘bumpy.’

 

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