Nearly 90% of homeowners approaching retirement want to stay in their homes as they age, according to AARP.
And that massive statistic is the single best marketing tool a reverse mortgage professional can use.
The “aging-in-place” movement is upon us, and it is huge. There’s even a council dedicated to the cause.
The National Aging in Place Council, which is supported by the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association, works to promote awareness of tools and services that can make independent living possible.
“Aging in place has become an increasingly familiar term in the U.S., although no one seems to know its origin,” said NAIPC Executive Director Marty Bell.
While Bell said most people think it means staying in a private home rather than moving to an institutional facility like a hospital or nursing home, the NAIPC has a broader definition.
“To us, it means living independently in a home that is right for your needs. It may be your current home, it may mean downsizing, it may mean moving from a multistory home to a one-story home or apartment, it may mean moving closer to your family,” Bell said.
Bell said innovative solutions designed to help seniors age in place are popping up everywhere thanks to the nation’s burgeoning over-60 population.
“We now find ourselves in the midst of an aging gold rush. Many new businesses, services, websites and solutions are cropping up specifically to serve the older population,” Bell said. “Silicon Valley venture capitalists are aging crazy.”
But aging in place remains a vague idea, albeit one with the potential for major profits, which is why NAIPC is working to establish a system to validate the movement.
In conjunction with Stony Brook University, the council created a post-graduate course to train aging-in-place coordinators who will be working with facilities and offices for aging, and hospitals to help seniors navigate their options. The university is currently working on an online course that it expects to debut in January.
NAICP is also in the process of opening the first Aging in Place Center in New York's Suffolk County, as a pilot and national model, according to Bell. There, trained staff will offer counseling and access to services for those looking to explore aging in place.
The idea is to put trained staff in front of older adults who want to learn about their options for aging in place.
Reverse mortgages can be a big part of that equation.
The costs of aging in place can be excessive. Not only do homeowners have modifications to consider, but also the expense of occasional in-home help or even full-time care. Reverse mortgages are uniquely positioned to help seniors achieve their desire to age in place by offering them access to their home equity in order to finance their needs as they grow old.
Bell said that if reverse mortgage professionals can familiarize themselves with the costs of aging in place, and if they can connect these dots as they talk with prospective clients, the more successful they will be.
“There’s a whole series of specific needs people have as they age,” Bell said. “The more reverse professionals know about these needs, the better chance they have of closing a loan.”