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Tag Archives: Senior Independence

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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Elder Wisdom: What A Tale Their Thoughts Could Tell

Amara Rose October 8, 2013 1

Gordon Lightfoot (whose signature lyrics from If You Could Read My Mind are reflected in the post title) turns 75 this November, and Bob Dylan has said that when he listens to a Lightfoot song, he “wishes it would never end.” That’s pretty high praise from a fellow septuagenarian maestro. Perhaps this is because seasoned songwriters instinctively weave life’s essence and lessons into a succinct truth that resonates to the marrow with those who listen, and thus appereverse mortgage newsals across the decades to both original fans as they age, and to a new audience.

The same might be said of elders. There’s so much wisdom to be gleaned from older team members. Consider this recent ad on CraigsList.com, headlined, “Looking for a 72-year-old writer”:

“I’m looking for a few good writers between the ages of 70 and 74. Seeking contributions from geographical locations all over the United States from persons who were in high school during 1959. For details about my project please go to http://www.classof59.net. It is okay if someone younger writes a contribution that was obtained orally from a member of the high school class of 1959.”

What a lovely tribute to what has been labeled, “The Silent Generation.”

“It is not how old you are, but how you are old,” said Academy Award-winning actress Marie Dressler. We’re moving from a model that focuses on disease, disability and death to one of “passion, purpose, and participation,” which happens to be the tagline of COPA (Collaborative on Positive Aging), a new volunteer division of the Council on Aging in one California community.

At the initial COPA gathering, much of the guiding wisdom for how future meetings might be organized was provided by people in their 70s and 80s, such as: “To remain vital, we need a mix of social/learning/leisure/contribution.” How perfect a reminder to anyone who serves seniors — reverse mortgage professionals obviously included — that as people age they become not a group apart, but more of who they’ve been, with a blend of needs and desires to enrich and fulfill these later years.

Consider the Sun City Poms, Arizona cheerleaders whose minimum age requirement is 55, along with the requisite “dance skills of rhythm, agility, poise, energy, and showmanship for performing. Acrobatics and baton twirling are a plus.” Wow! These women are weaving their social, leisure, learning and contributing into a bountiful blessing for everyone.

In his brilliant essay on conscious aging, Rabon Delmore Saip, a presenter at the COPA meeting, quotes developmental psychologist Paul Baltes: “One of the great challenges of the 21st century will be to complete the architecture of the human life course.”

The seniors reverse mortgage professionals serve today are playing a vital role in constructing the future of humanity, as they (and we) reinvent what it means, and what it “looks like”, to be “old”.

 
 

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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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History Is Made: Seniors Outnumber Teens in Workforce

Senior butcher“It’s good news and bad news depending on the perspective you’re looking from,” says Mary Hladio, president of the Cincinnati-based Ember Carriers, a workplace/workforce management firm that helps mid-sized manufacturing firms with succession plans. “My clients are sticking around longer — they’re 69- and 70-years old and they’re vibrant, but they’re thinking they want to eventually retire.”

But they don’t. At least, not at the rate and age of previous generations. Government estimates show 6.6 million people over the age of 65 worked or looked for work in the first six months of 2010, compared to 5.9 million 16- to 19-year-olds.

“I think a couple of things are happening,” Hladio tells Selling to Seniors. “The Baby Boomers are getting older and we’re seeing the effects of them hitting the market in larger numbers; it also means that Americans are working longer before retiring because they’re living longer and they have the ability to live a fuller life.”

They’re also keeping their careers because “the economy took a hit on their portfolio and they have to work to supplement their income,” she says. “The good news for employers is that they’re going to have someone who is going to show up and be productive and reliable, as opposed to hiring a teenager.”

Employers are actively seeking to retain their older employees just for those reasons, says Steve Isaac, CEO of EducationDynamics. And one way they do that is to pay for higher education for seniors. EducationDynamics is a higher learning marketing company based in Hoboken, N.J.

“We’ve seen a rise in companies investing in current employees,” says Isaac, citing an EducationDynamics survey that revealed some 80 percent of New York companies are paying for employees to get advanced degrees.

“In the past we saw people jumping from job to job to pursue higher salaries and new opportunities,” he tells STS. “Tuition reimbursement not only fosters a more intelligent work force, but a more loyal one. With the support of their companies, these employees will hone their skills and remain in their current positions for longer. It is an investment.”

Teens lose jobs in 100s of thousands

Older employees “bring a wealth of history that you can’t get anywhere else,” says Hladio. “The bad news for seniors is that because they have this wealth of knowledge they tend to command higher compensation. [Employers] have to answer the question, do I bring the college student in at an entry level salary or do I pay for this 25-year history that [a senior] has?”

The competition between seniors and teens isn’t just for higher-compensating white-collar jobs. The government reports that from 2000 to 2009, teens in food preparation — typically an entry-level, minimum-wage occupation — lost 242,000 jobs while workers over 55 gained 128,000 jobs.

Similarly, in sales and related fields, teens lost 532,000 jobs while Boomers and seniors gained 822,000. And in the better-paying, more career-oriented fields of office and administrative, teens lost 553,000 jobs while seniors gained more than a million, at 1,091,000.

Info: Ember Carriers is at www.embercarriers.com. EducationDynamics is at www.educationdynamics.com. To see the report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, see http://www.bls.gov/opub/ils/pdf/opbils49.pdf.

For additional senior information about retirement financing using a US Government guaranteed Reverse Mortgage, you may reach Larry Benton at 877.805.2905 or asklarrybenton@gmail.com

 

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Need Home Modifications To Age In Place? A Reverse Mortgage May Help

Most seniors want to stay in their homes and remain independent yet often believe they can’t for a number of reasons.  Making some home modifications could make their wish of remaining in their home a reality by providing a safer more comfortable environment.

More than one third of those age 65 and older suffer injuries from a fall each year according to research from the National Center for Injury Control and Prevention.  AARP research suggests the leading cause of injury and deaths among seniors is falls.  Modifying one’s home can help to eliminate common hazards and help to improve the quality of living in one’s home.  Improving the safety of one’s home can help one have more comfort, convenience, and  remain independent and active in their community.  Some people have mobility limitations from causes other than falls and still want to stay in their home.  This too can be accomplished with some home modifications.Home modifications can help seniors remain in home

Bathing, toileting, cooking, and climbing stairs can be made easier to perform by adapting one’s home.  Modifying one’s home can be as simple as installing grab bars in the bathrooms, removing throw rugs, moving electrical cords from hazardous locations, touch buttons for turning lights on and off to installing entrances to accommodate wheel chairs and lifts to access another level.

By assessing and modifying one’s home, one can live more safely, comfortably and remain independent.  But how can one afford this?  A reverse mortgage may be the solution beyond what Medicare or insurance will pay for.

A reverse mortgage is a special loan to allow seniors to remain in their home with security, independence, dignity, and control by converting the equity into cash.  Similar to a conventional loan where a lien is placed on the home yet the borrower retains ownership.  The reverse mortgage is different from a conventional loan with no income or credit scores required and no monthly mortgage payment requirements.

The reverse mortgage loan amount is based on the age of the borrower, their home value and an Expected Interest Rate.  Due and payable when the home is no longer the primary residence, usually when they move, die or sell, a reverse mortgage can allow one to remain in their home and use the equity now.  As a non-recourse loan there is no personal liability to the borrower or their estate as long as they are not retaining ownership.  If the home is sold for more than the loan balance then the borrower(s) or their heirs keep the difference.Reverse Mortgage Helped Bob Modify His Home

Bob, a Minnesota senior who had lost his wife wanted to stay in his home.  He did the reverse mortgage and with a portion of his proceeds he modified his home to be prepared for the future such as having the doorways wider to accommodate a wheel chair and grab bars installed.  He’s thrilled that he was able to have his home modified and will be able to remain there for years to come.

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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