Forward-thinking – In Reverse

Some analogies are hard to miss. This week two events came together to create just such an obvious pairing.

The first element of the analogy was a piece in the New York Times. The article, with a title that at best sounds like damning with faint praise, is entitled “Love Them or Loathe Them, Reverse Mortgages Have a Place.” Ron Lieber, author of the piece, writes:

[Criticism is easy] when you have enough savings or pension and Social Security income to get by. But given that older Americans’ homes are worth, on average, more than their other combined savings, there is a begrudging inevitability about reverse mortgages. As more people enter retirement in the coming decades with modest savings and no private pension, they’re going to need some of that home equity back during their increasingly long lives. (Emphasis added)

Note what he’s saying: life expectancy has dramatically climbed. Pensions have gone away. Savings may be meager. But the one investment most Americans faithfully fund is their home. And they’re going to need to draw upon that investment in retirement.

Now enter element two of my hard-to-miss analogy: today I met with a delightful couple. Well educated professionals, within the next two years they would like to retire from their careers as contractors with the federal government. They moved to the area 16 years ago and still have 14 years to go on their conventional mortgage.

The math isn’t hard. Their monthly mortgage payment is going to lug their retirement finances. However, if they go into retirement without a monthly mortgage payment their retirement income, investments, savings, long-term care insurance and Social Security will likely be more than adequate to meet their current and future needs.

This couple is very typical of what I call my “Forward-thinking Reverse” clients. They are not in distress. They are not lacking options. They do not see a reverse mortgage as a miracle product. Rather, they have done their research, they have run the numbers, and they have carefully planned for their retirement years.

And part of this planning involves a reverse mortgage. “It’s only been in the past year we started to understand what reverse mortgage really was,” the husband told me.

Which leads me back to Lieber’s New York Times piece.

“Many of the people entering or examining the reverse mortgage business now describe their interest in [reverse mortgage] as a sort of conversion. …Michael Gordon, BNY Mellon’s head of retirement and strategic solutions…thinks that many retirees…are unaware of their true asset allocation. After all, their home equity is an asset too,” Lieber writes.

As I’ve said many times, in retirement no one is going to get by on just their Social Security. No one is going to make it on their 401-K. Few are going to survive on their pension, their annuity, their IRA, their bank account – or their reverse mortgage. But when added together, all these combine to create a long-term means of maintaining dignity and independence in retirement.

If you would like to explore how an FHA-insured reverse mortgage might help with your retirement plans or those of your loved ones, give me a call. I always love hearing from you.


Laurie MacNaughton [506562] is a freelance writer and Reverse Mortgage Consultant with Southern Trust Mortgage.
She can be reached at 703-477-1183 Direct or

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