Written by Martha Miller Echols, Frank Melendrez, Gregg Smith & Bob Reisen, as originally published in The Reverse Review.

Last February The Reverse Review ran a human-interest piece that illustrated the positive impact reverse mortgages were making on the lives of seniors. We received so much positive feedback about the piece that we’ve decided to give it another go one year later. While there has been significant change within the industry, the themes of the stories remain the same. Reverse mortgages are still making an overwhelmingly positive impact on the lives of seniors; providing them with a new outlook on life.

Most days my career as a reverse mortgage consultant feels more like a ministry than a job. I’ve had the pleasure of helping many seniors enjoy their “golden years.” Peter in particular comes to mind; he was referred to me by a colleague who had a friend working at a nearby hospital. I first met Peter in the psychiatric ward of the county hospital. He was extremely depressed and had attempted to end his life. During our first meeting he shared how his home, finances, health and relationships were in shambles. I explained how he could use the reverse mortgage to pay off his debt, taxes, fix up his home, provide a modest monthly income to help him eat healthier and fulfill his financial obligation to his ex-wife. Instantly, I saw a smile of relief on Peter’s face. He began to envision how this program could help him put his life back together. Over the next few weeks I met with Peter at his home, which was cold because some of the windows were broken. His bathroom floor was rotting, and he had the neighbor’s water hose sticking through his kitchen window as his only source of running water. We quickly completed the reverse mortgage and Peter was able to rebuild his home and his life. With a healthier outlook on life, he was able to reconnect with his daughter. Last year Peter invited me to his 70th birthday party. His home looked great and was filled with friends. He even belted out a few songs on his piano for me! Peter is really living life with gusto now, and even campaigned for a seat on the local city council. It’s an

honor to help seniors transform their lives with the benefits of a reverse mortgage. Many clients have told me this program helps them sleep better at night, which is the greatest compliment of all. FRANK MELENDREZ AMERICAN ADVISORS GROUP At American Advisors Group (AAG), we take great pride in building a personal relationship with each and every customer. That special fostering of relationships results in the best part of my job: changing a senior’s life for the better. I will never forget Vincent Speranza, a World War II veteran who coincidently served at the same time as my father. Not only did Vincent and I bond over my father and their shared experiences, he also changed my life by leading by example and showing me what a man of integrity embodies. Unfortunately, Vincent’s wife of 62 years has been fighting her own nine-year war with Alzheimer’s and dementia. She is no longer competent and has been living in a long-term care facility for the past three years. Vincent was feeling the need to spend as much time with his wife as possible, but the realities of their finances became a hurdle. Vincent was not ready to “go quietly into that dark night,” as he put it. There were still goals he wanted to accomplish. He had yet to fulfill his dream of returning to the WWII battlefield where he fought as a 19-year-old soldier. He was looking for that second wind in life, which was unobtainable because of his current financial situation. Vincent’s case was complicated by a poorly structured trust and POA, as well as the fact that his wonderful wife was living in a nursing home and remained on the
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title. The title company raised all kinds of legal objections to the loan, but I was determined not to let Vincent down. I knew how much this reverse mortgage meant to him. AAG supported my persistence and we were able to successfully complete Vincent’s reverse mortgage transaction. With the financial freedom provided by his reverse mortgage, Vincent has now increased his capacity to live a fuller life. He has shared with me time and again that his reverse mortgage changed his life. He now spends as much time with his wife as he wishes and is able to travel to Europe each year to spend time with friends and comrades. I think one of the most moving stories I heard was the postwar guilt Vincent carried for more than 65 years for not visiting the cemetery in Bastogne, Belgium, the site of the Battle of the Bulge. On his first trip back he was able to resolve that guilt and visit, in his words, “the true heroes.” Not only did Vincent accomplish his goal of revisiting the battlefield and paying his respects to his fellow soldiers, he located the exact foxhole he once lay in, and even learned he was a celebrity in and around Bastogne. A local brewery named its beer, Airborne Beer, after Vincent, and the museum contains some of Vincent’s items, including two yellow parachute pieces – with his handwriting still present – that he used to wrap cigarettes as a gift to a local family on Christmas. My wife and I recently had the pleasure of dining with Vincent and I am blessed to be able to call Vincent my friend. I look forward to maintaining that friendship and hearing more of Vincent’s new adventures. I feel secure that an AAG reverse mortgage has provided the many benefits only a reverse mortgage could deliver and has afforded Vincent the ability to look forward to the memories he’s making today. GREGG SMITH ONE REVERSE MORTGAGE One of my favorite parts of my job is hearing from our clients about how a reverse mortgage helped change their lives. We help people avoid financial issues, pay off debt, and give them a little extra breathing room in their day-to-day budget. All of these stories inspire us to continue to serve our clients and provide them with the best customer service in the industry. One of my most memorable stories regards a gentleman named George from Texas. One day, just before we were getting ready to close on his reverse mortgage, he called me and was very upset. He told me that his computer crashed, and he could not pull up some of the documents I emailed to him. He was very relieved when I told him it was no problem. I could easily get him hard copies of the closing documents, and he did not have to worry about trying to access the documents I emailed him. I remember how relieved he was when I told him that there was nothing to worry about with his closing documents. His wife of 40 years was always the one to take care of anything that needed to be done with their finances, and George was at such a loss when she passed away. He was overwhelmed by the financial issues for which he was now responsible. The reverse mortgage helped George with his finances and eased some of his stress. He was very happy with how easy it was for him to qualify for the reverse mortgage, and there was always someone at One Reverse Mortgage to talk to about any questions or concerns he had through the process. These kinds of stories from our clients reassure us that the hard work and dedication we put into this industry really do pay off. We help some clients avoid financial nightmares, and we help others ensure their retirement is everything they wanted it to be. We help them live a more comfortable lifestyle than would have been possible without their reverse mortgage. Whatever the circumstance, we are glad to be able to make a difference in our clients’ lives. BOB REISEN 1ST REVERSE MORTGAGE USA About 50 years ago Mr. and Mrs. Baker purchased farming acreage south of San Antonio near Poteet, TX. For many years they worked the land together, but with the death of Mr. Baker, much of the property was sold off, leaving 34 acres on which Mrs. Baker currently lives. Mrs. Baker, who is now 76 years old, worked outside the home to earn extra money after her husband passed away, but she has been unable to do so in recent years. The increasing cost of living and the need to hire in-home support have made it difficult for Mrs. Baker to get by on her fixed income. She didn’t want to break up her acreage any further, but also didn’t want to sell her home and move into town. Mrs. Baker’s greatest fear was that she would be forced to sell the homestead and downsize, which would mean giving up much of her cherished family memorabilia. Borrowing against her property wasn’t an option for Mrs. Baker. Although she owned her home free and clear, she didn’t have enough income to qualify for a mortgage and, even if she did, the fear of not being able to meet her monthly mortgage payments was a serious concern for her. Around the time it looked like she had run out of options, a friend introduced her to the option of a reverse mortgage. At first she thought it was too good to be true, as it presented the perfect solution. A reverse mortgage would allow her to use the value of her property to pay for needed repairs to her home and personal services for things that she is no longer able to do for herself. In short, it would allow her to continue to live at her home safely and without worry. Today, Mrs. Baker is a very happy person! She is thankful she is able to remain in her home and live without worrying about how she will make ends meet. This past year she enjoyed a wonderful Christmas with her family. Most importantly, she has been able to let go of her financial concerns and looks forward to spending many more years at home on her beloved homestead. Now that is what reverse mortgages are all about!