Author: Sara Cornwall

How A HECM Reverse Mortgage Can Help During The COVID-19 Crisis

In one week the COVID-19 virus has shook not only the health of the entire world, but our national economy and stock market and our local economies as well.  Seniors are an especially vulnerable age group to not just the virus itself, but also to the broad reaching impact on finances.

Here’s how a HECM reverse mortgage could help with different scenarios:

1.) Pay off existing conventional mortgage and/or other debt.
2.) Provide cushion for a volatile stock market that can affect retirement portfolios.
3.) Allow seniors to move out of senior living homes (as is being recommended) and fund long term care or long term care insurance.
4.) Allow seniors to move out of senior living homes and purchase a home or condo using a Reverse Mortgage for Purchase.

Regardless of how a HECM Reverse Mortgage can help, the truth is right now is the time to do it.  This is because home values are high and interest rates are low, but this may change quickly.  The amount available through a reverse mortgage is based off two main factors – the appraised value of the home and the age of the borrower(s).

Reverse mortgages are available to homeowners 62 and over, including married couples, with many protections in place to ensure borrowers are adequately educated before using this option, such as required third-party counseling.  Reverse mortgages are gaining in popularity among retirees from all walks of life.  A reverse mortgage for purchase option is available for those looking to purchase a new residence.

Sara Cornwall is a local Reverse Mortgage Advisor serving the entire state of Connecticut. Contact Sara and learn if reverse mortgage is right for you.

 

What Retirees Want In Housing

If you find yourself yearning for a retirement of comfort in your own home in a community you love, you are definitely not alone.  Here are some pretty telling facts and statistics surrounding the desires of older adults in the U.S..

According to research by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP):

  • Nearly 90 percent of seniors want to stay in their own homes as they age.
  • Even if they begin to need day-to-day assistance or ongoing health care during retirement, 82% would prefer to stay in their homes.
  • Most pre-retirees expect they will be able to live independently during retirement; only 14% expect they will need day-to-day assistance or ongoing health care at any point during their retirement.
  • Thinking about parents’ getting older is on the minds of 88% of adult children.
  •  75% of adult children and 69 % of parents think about the parents’ ability to live independently as they get older
  •  AARP identified housing features that seniors find are especially important in the later years: – Safety features such as non-slip floor surfaces (80 percent)– Bathroom aides such as grab bars (79 percent)– A personal alert system that allows people to call for help in emergencies (79 percent)– Entrance without steps (77 percent)

    – Wider doorways (65 percent)

    – Lever-handled doorknobs (54 percent)

    – Higher electrical outlets (46 percent)

    – Lower electrical switches (38 percent)

From the National Assocation of Home Builders:

  • 75% of remodelers report an increase in inquiries related to aging in place.
  • The NAHB predicts that aging in place remodeling market to be $20-$25 billion.  That’s about 10 percent of the $214 billion home improvement industry.

According to the MetLife Mature Marketing Institute:

  • 91% of pre-retirees age 50 to 65 responded that they want to live in their own homes in retirement.  Of that group, 49% want to stay in their current homes, and 38% want to move to new homes

Whether it’s the desire to simply stay put through retirement, or to make modifications to the home, or even to purchase a new home, a reverse mortgage is a flexible tool to help finance any of these.  

Reverse mortgages are available to homeowners 62 and over, including married couples, with many protections in place to ensure borrowers are adequately educated before using this option, such as required third-party counseling.  Reverse mortgages are gaining in popularity among retirees from all walks of life.  A reverse mortgage for purchase option is available for those looking to purchase a new residence.

Sara Cornwall is a local Reverse Mortgage Advisor serving the entire state of Connecticut. Contact Sara and learn if reverse mortgage is right for you.

I Have A HELOC On My Home – Can I Get A Reverse Mortgage?

reverse mortgage advisor connecticutThe short answer is – absolutely.  And as a matter a fact, reverse mortgages are great options to eliminate HELOC payments.

A HELOC is the acronym for Home Equity Line of Credit, and thousands in the Fort Collins and Loveland cities have taken advantage of it. When the housing boom was in full swing a number of years ago, the values of personal homes gave their owners a strong resource to draw upon in the form of a loan.  Unfortunately many of these loans amortized, leaving the borrowers with higher than  predicted payments.

Seniors 62 or older with a HELOC loan may be able to utilize a reverse mortgage to relieve the financial burden.  The HECM, or Reverse Mortgage, provides the borrower with non-taxable income that will not affect social security or Medicare, and can be used for whatever the borrower sees fit. The funds from the loan can also be received in various options. Seeking the advice of a reputable reverse mortgage lender can help you make these decisions.  During the application process, the HELOC will be discussed and a options of paying it off will be laid out.

If you do not presently have a HELOC but are considering one, put reverse mortgage on the table for a consideration as well. There will be advantages to both options giving you a sense of freedom to have choices.

Sara Cornwall is a local Reverse Mortgage Advisor serving the entire state of Connecticut. Contact Sara and learn if reverse mortgage is right for you.

Reverse Mortgage For Purchase – A Hidden Gem

reverse mortgage advisor connecticutNearly everyone is familiar with a Reverse Mortgage and many even know someone who has used one to increase cash flow or help them remain in their existing home.  But what many people don’t realize is that you can also use one to purchase a home.  This little known portion of the reverse mortgage program, called Reverse Mortgage (HECM) for Purchase, is a golden gem to many seniors who are looking to settle down somewhere other than their current home for retirement.  Whether looking to move closer to family, purchase a single level home, or move into a senior community, these homebuyers are able to purchase a home they often wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise while still eliminating mortgage payments – all in a single transaction.

To qualify, the borrower(s) must be 62 years or older, be purchasing an eligible property, have the required down payment, and meet the HECM financial assessment guidelines.  Eligible property types are single family residences, new construction, HUD approved condos and townhomes. Allowable down payment sources include cash from savings or investments, proceeds from the sale of an existing home or asset, gifts. Funds that are borrowed such as a loan or credit cards are not allowed as a funding source.  The amount of the down payment varies depending on the age of the youngest borrowers and the cost of the new home.

Working with an educated real estate agent and reverse mortgage specialist will expedite the process, and in most cases in a Reverse Mortgage for Purchase does not take longer to complete than a typical home purchase with a traditional loan.

Sara Cornwall is a local Reverse Mortgage Advisor serving the entire state of Connecticut. Contact Sara and learn if reverse mortgage is right for you.

Should Your Financial Planner Be Discussing Reverse Mortgage?

reverse mortgage advisor connecticutWhen financial planners counsel retirees on how to best leverage their retirement portfolio, social security, and other assets, considering a reverse mortgage was long not part of that conversation – but this is beginning to change.

As the myths of the industry are laid to rest, many professionals are beginning to better understand how reverse mortgage can be used as a financial planning tool for seniors who are on a strict budget or who want to live their golden years to the fullest.  Reverse mortgages can often mean the difference between just living and living life to the fullest.

A few tips for financial planners:

  • Seek out and work with a reputable reverse mortgage specialist who has strong ties to the community, lends from an organization that is a member of the Better Business Bureau, and is associated with the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association.
  • Make sure you fully understand the information you may be offering your retiree client.  With the amount of misinformation within the industry, if you are not 100% sure of an answer, call your trusted reverse mortgage specialist to ensure the information you are providing is accurate.
  • Communicate with adult children who may have concerns and make sure they fully understand the process from A to Z.  Eliminating misinformation is key.
  • Remember, reverse mortgages are not one-size-fits-all.  Be creative and comprehensive when considering adding a reverse mortgage to a long term retirement plan.  

Sara Cornwall is a local Reverse Mortgage Advisor serving the entire state of Connecticut. Contact Sara and learn if reverse mortgage is right for you.

What is Required Reverse Mortgage Counseling?

reverse mortgage advisor connecticutPrior to being approved for a reverse mortgage, HUD’s Federal Housing Administration (FHA) requires each borrow to participate in a counseling session with an approved agency. These not-for-profit agencies are funded by the federal government and work closely with both the FHA and lenders to ensure a smooth process.

The goal of this session is not to steer a potential borrower in one direction or another, but to make sure they clearly understand all aspects of a reverse mortgage.

Here is what you can expect at your counseling session:

The potential borrower will need to schedule an appointment directly with a counseling agency. The lender does not initiate or take part in the session, but can provide you with resources to seek out a counselor. The session will take place in person or over the phone – although the FHA recommends a face-to-face meeting whenever possible.

Prior to your appointment, the counseling agency will provide you with a packet of information to allow you to prepare for the session. During the session the counselor will discuss your immediate and long-term financial needs, your reasons for seeking out a reverse mortgage, address any questions or concerns you may have, and clearly educate you on the process as well as the pros and cons of a reverse mortgage. Again, they are not there to “sell” you on the product, but to educate instead.

Once you have completed the counseling session, you will be provided with a “Certificate of Completion”. This certificate verifies to your lender that you have completed the counseling session and that you understand the essentials of a reverse mortgage. Your counselor will also follow up with you to ensure you have no further needs, questions, or concerns.

Sara Cornwall is a local Reverse Mortgage Advisor serving the entire state of Connecticut. Contact Sara and learn if reverse mortgage is right for you.

Reverse Mortgage FAQ – Part 3

reverse mortgage advisor connecticutThis is the third in a three part series of frequently asked questions about Reverse Mortgage.  

Will I Lose My Government Assistance If I Get a Reverse Mortgage?

A reverse mortgage does not affect regular Social Security or Medicare benefits. However, if you are on Medicaid or other public assistance, any reverse mortgage proceeds you receive will need to be reported or they may affect your eligibility. Reverse mortgage funds that you retain would be considered an asset, just as other bank funds.

What is a Reverse Mortgage Appraisal?

A home appraisal by an FHA approved appraiser is required for every reverse mortgage loan.  Once your reverse mortgage lender has received your application, you will be contacted by an appraiser to schedule a time to conduct the appraisal.  The appraisal will consist of an inspection, where the appraiser will walk through your home and possibly take photographs.  Once the walk-through is completed, research will be done to determine your home’s worth based on various factors, including comparable home sales in your area.  After the research has been done, an appraisal report will be generated which will include all of the factors that went into determining your home’s appraised value.  

How Do I Spot a Reverse Mortgage Scam?

Unfortunately con-artists occasionally prey on older individuals through reverse mortgage scams, but there are several ways to spot such activity.  Be skeptical of lenders who solicit through means such as television, door-to-door, churches or other community centers, direct mailers, or other extensive advertisements.  Asking for large amounts of money up front is a very clear indicator.  Anything required beyond a routine appraisal deposit of approx $300 is cause for concern.  Steer clear of reverse mortgages that are marketed as “Foreclosure Assistance”.  A high pressure salesperson is a red-flag, as it is important to clearly understand what you are signing and to have any questions thoroughly answered.  Working with a reputable lender is critical when making such a major decision as obtaining a reverse mortgage.  Learn more about reverse mortgage scams here.

What Happens if the Borrower Moves Into a Senior Care Facility or Something Similar?

A reverse mortgage becomes due and payable when the last borrower moves out of his or her home permanently. For instance, moving into a senior care facility, selling the home, passing away or moving in with adult children.  In the case of married couples, if both are on the loan, and only one spouse is no longer permanently in the home, the loan will continue until the remaining spouse leaves.

What Happens to a Reverse Mortgage After the Owners Pass?

When the last homeowner passes, the home will transfer into the estate or a specific person according  to the wishes expressed in the homeowner’s will.  At this time there are three main options: pay off the remainder of the loan, obtain a conventional loan, or sell the home.  For more extensive details about each of these options, read this article on my blog.

Sara Cornwall is a local Reverse Mortgage Advisor serving the entire state of Connecticut. Contact Sara and learn if reverse mortgage is right for you.

Reverse Mortgage FAQ – Part 2

Agoura Hills, Oak Park, Calabasas, Chatsworth, Canoga Park, Woodland Hills Reverse Mortgage HECM Janice CohenThis is the second in a three part series of frequently asked questions about Reverse Mortgage.

Can I get a Reverse Mortgage even if I have an existing mortgage?

You may qualify for a reverse mortgage even if you still owe money on an existing mortgage. The existing loan will be paid off first with the reverse mortgage funds, then the remainder of the funds will be given to you.  This scenario would apply as long as the amount of the reverse mortgage is larger than the existing loan.  For example: if you owe $100,000 on an existing mortgage and you qualify for $125,000 under the reverse mortgage program, under these circumstances you would still have $25,000 left over to do with as you wish AND you would no longer have a mortgage payment.

Another scenario would be one where the mortgage on your house is more than what you qualified for under the reverse mortgage program.  In this situation you would have the option to make up the difference with your own funds between the amount of reverse mortgage you qualified for and the existing loan.  This would allow you to no longer have the burden of a monthly mortgage payment.  Working with a reputable reverse mortgage lender will ensure the most accurate information regarding how an existing mortgage would affect a reverse mortgage and what will be right for you.

What is Reverse Mortgage Counseling? 

Prior to being approved for a reverse mortgage, HUD’s Federal Housing Administration (FHA) requires each borrower to participate in a counseling session with an approved agency. These not-for-profit agencies are funded by the federal government and work closely with both the FHA and lenders to ensure a smooth process.  The goal of this session is not to steer a potential borrower in one direction or another, but to make sure they clearly understand all aspects of a reverse mortgage.  Read more about what to expect during reverse mortgage counseling here.

Why not get a home equity loan instead of a reverse mortgage?

Reverse mortgages do not need to be repaid as long as you remain in your home. This allows for a lot of flexibility if you are on a tight or limited budget, or would like to use your funds from a reverse mortgage for specific purposes.

On the other hand, attaining a home equity loan (or a second mortgage) requires you have sufficient income to cover the debt—plus, you must continue to make monthly payments on both any existing mortgage and the new home equity loan. With a reverse mortgage, you do not make monthly mortgage payments and the federally insured loan protects you from foreclosure.

Do I have to pay taxes on the cash payments I receive?

The cash you receive from a reverse mortgage is not considered income, therefore not subject to individual income taxation. But, since you hold the title to your home, you are still responsible for property taxes, insurance, utilities, fuel, maintenance, and other home-related expenses. Interest on reverse mortgages is not deductible on income tax returns until the loan is paid off in part or whole.

Who is a Reverse Mortgage not right for?

Reverse mortgages are not right for everyone, which makes it even more important that you work with a reputable lender.  A reverse mortgage may not be in your best interest if you intend to leave your home within 2-3 years, if you own multiple homes or investment property, or if you intend to leave your spouse off the loan.  Even if you fall into any of these categories, discuss your situation with a lender before eliminating reverse mortgage as an option.

Sara Cornwall is a local Reverse Mortgage Advisor serving the entire state of Connecticut. Contact Sara and learn if reverse mortgage is right for you.

Reverse Mortgage FAQ Part 1

reverse mortgage advisor connecticutThis is the first in a three part series of frequently asked questions about Reverse Mortgage.

Are There Any Special Requirements to Get a Reverse Mortgage?

In order to qualify for a reverse mortgage, you must own your home, be at least 62 years old, have some equity in your home, and meet the income and credit requirements.

How Much Money Can I Get?

In general, the older you are (or the youngest borrower in the case of married couples) and the more valuable your home, the more money you can get.  Other factors also come into play, such as: the appraised home value, interest rates, and the amount of equity in your home.

Does My Home Qualify?

Eligible properties include single-family homes, 2-4 unit properties, modular homes, condominiums, and townhouses.  This home must also be your primary residence.

What are My Options to Receive the Funds?

Funds from a reverse mortgage can be received all at once as a lump sum, as fixed monthly payments for a set term or for as long as you live in the home, as a line of credit which allows you to draw on the loan proceeds at any time, wrapped into the purchase of a home, or a combination of all these.

How Can I Use the Proceeds from a Reverse Mortgage?

Their are no restrictions as to how the proceeds from a reverse mortgage can be used.  Whether it is to supplement or protect retirement income, to cover your living expenses, to repair/modify your home, to pay for medical expenses, pay off existing debts, or simply do something nice for yourself or others, no one can tell you how you must spend your money.

Sara Cornwall is a local Reverse Mortgage Advisor serving the entire state of Connecticut. Contact Sara and learn if reverse mortgage is right for you.

Everything You Need To Know About The Reverse Mortgage Appraisal

reverse mortgage advisor connecticutGetting assessments on just about anything can seem laborious or tedious, who wants to have something close to them looked at with a magnifying glass? But appraisals for reverse mortgage loans are not only very helpful for everyone involved, they’re required by the lender.  Part of what determines the amount of funding available from a reverse mortgage is the appraised value of the home.  Luckily the process is very simple.

First, after talking with a reputable reverse mortgage specialist, you will submit your application. The specialist or lender will be the one to contact an appraiser who will in turn contact you to set up a time for them to look at your home.

The procedure is standard and involves three steps, the inspection, the research, and the report.

Inspection:

The appraiser will walk through your home with you, he or she might take photographs. It will document features that add value to your home. If the appraiser takes a picture of something in need of repair it lets you know that it matters and gives you a chance to fix it.

Research:

Once the walk through is done, the appraiser’s work continues as they research factors that influence the value they place on your home. Home sales in your area are one area of research. Others include multiple listing services, tax assessor’s records and public records come into play. Anything that will help to give the present value will be taken into account.

The Official Report:

This is the synthesis of the appraiser’s home visit and all the research. The report is used with your loan request. If photographs were taken, they will be included as well.

The appraiser gives this report to the lender who will give you a copy and an updated reverse mortgage figures taking into account the new information.

There are simple things you can do before the appraiser gets to your home to help your loan request. 

Reverse mortgage is an individualized, specialized loan for those 62 and older that allows seniors to tap into the equity of their home while living mortgage and loan payment free.  The funds can be accessed via a lump sum, line of credit, monthly installments, or even to purchase a home. If you are planning ahead let your specialist guide you in the many scenarios that are possible and the two of you can think creatively about your needs and desires.

Sara Cornwall is a local Reverse Mortgage Advisor serving the entire state of Connecticut. Contact Sara and learn if reverse mortgage is right for you.