Written by Kim Schachinger, as originally published in The Reverse Review.

Approximately 10,000 Americans turn 62 every day, according to U.S. Census reports. Due to the growing senior population, reverse mortgages are becoming an increasingly popular option for seniors concerned with having a comfortable retirement.

IN THE NEWS
Five years ago, a reverse mortgage was viewed as a last-chance mortgage to help seniors avoid losing their homes; the industry was viewed as a villain preying on vulnerable seniors. The truth of the matter is reverse mortgages are used for a multitude of reasons by seniors in

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a variety of circumstances. They aren’t for everyone, but they can provide financial flexibility for seniors who want to improve their financial situations after retirement.

Recently, The Today Show highlighted the pros and cons of a reverse mortgage. The financial editor for The Today Show, Jean Chatzky, illustrated how a reverse mortgage can be an excellent tool. It becomes an extra source of income and can alleviate a senior’s concerns about being able to afford to stay in their home. In fact, with a reverse mortgage, a senior can stay in their home until they pass away or move out. “Even if a senior drains all the equity from their home, they can still stay in their home and cannot be forced to move,” Chatzky said. “The only stipulation is they must maintain the property and stay current with taxes and insurance.”

Reverse mortgages also made headlines recently in The San Diego Business Journal. In the article, One Reverse Mortgage (ORM), a Quicken Loans Company and the company I work for, was highlighted as a business growing and expanding with the demand in the industry. The article also highlighted ORM’s ranking in the industry as second, a spot it took over when Wells Fargo ended its reverse mortgage program.

Another recent article about reverse mortgages was a New York Times story that discussed senior celebrity spokespeople in reverse mortgage advertising. Although some may look at this practice as a marketing gimmick, consumer studies indicate that seniors view these spokespeople as trustworthy and close to their own age. A celebrity spokesman might assure potential clients that the product is on the up and up.

REASONS FOR THE GROWTH
There are many factors for growth in the reverse mortgage industry. The main factor is simply that more and more American homeowners age 62 and older have financial needs that their current retirement funds may not be able to satisfy. It is no secret that for many, retirement savings have significantly reduced in value over the past several years. A reverse mortgage can allow seniors 62 and older to utilize tax-free cash for anything while continuing to live in their homes without monthly mortgage payments.

There are also many seniors who don’t know all the facts about what a reverse mortgage can do for them. Many seniors don’t realize that they still own their home with a reverse mortgage and in no way will they owe more than their home is worth. A reverse mortgage is a non-recourse loan, meaning the lender cannot demand a larger amount than the value of the home.

ADDITIONAL FACTS INCLUDE:
-Qualifying for a reverse mortgage is much easier than a traditional mortgage because a reverse mortgage does not require credit and income information.
-A senior can qualify for a reverse mortgage even if they currently have a mortgage on their home.
-The money received from a reverse mortgage is tax free; it can be used for anything and it doesn’t affect Social Security benefits.

TOP FIVE REASONS PEOPLE ARE GETTING A REVERSE MORTGAGE:

IMPROVEMENT OF QUALITY OF LIFE: One of the benefits of a reverse mortgage is that it gives seniors financial freedom. With a reverse mortgage, any current mortgage is eliminated. Now, instead of worrying about paying monthly mortgage payments, seniors can enjoy things such as dining out and nights out on the town.

PAYMENT OF HOSPITAL OR MEDICAL BILLS: More and more Americans are going into debt because of medical bills. Never before has the cost of medical coverage been so high. Many seniors rely on Medicare, but the reality is that Medicare only covers a percentage of the total cost of medical expenses. On average, Medicare beneficiaries age 65 to 74 spend $2,920 a year in out-of-pocket expenses. The out-of-pocket costs only increase over time, potentially reaching $4,600 by the time seniors reach the age of 85. By then, that cost can eat up 30 percent of a senior’s income.

HOME IMPROVEMENTS: Seniors

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are hesitant to make home improvements while living on a fixed income. With a reverse mortgage, seniors are able to afford a new roof or remodel a bathroom or their kitchen.
PAY OFF DEBT: According to CNN Money, people 65 and older are carrying on average of $10,235 in credit card debt alone. Reverse mortgages provide the funds needed for seniors to pay down debt or eliminate debt completely.

TRAVEL: Funds from a reverse mortgage give seniors a chance to take a dream vacation. Many seniors choose to take the proceeds from their reverse mortgage to visit family that live far away.

NO END IN SIGHT FOR GROWTH
As more homeowners continue to reach the qualifying age of 62, many will continue to look for ways to augment their retirement income. According to HUD, more than 73,000 reverse mortgages were originated last year, about 12 times the number originated in 2000. According to the U.S. Census Administration on Aging, people 60 and older will constitute 25 percent of the U.S. population by 2050. This projected growth in the senior demographic will naturally equate to continued growth of the reverse mortgage industry.

Regardless of the anticipated growth, it’s important not to lose sight of the ultimate goal: the ability to give senior homeowners financial flexibility so they can comfortably retire and remain in their own homes. In this industry, there is no greater satisfaction than helping seniors do what they thought was impossible.