Ten Reasons Not to Read The Motley Fool

Laurie MacNaughton

Ok, enough is enough – what started off as sloppy journalism unbefitting a widely-read publication that purports to “help people take control of their financial lives” has become flat-out obnoxious as it spreads through the news channels.

I’m speaking about Peter Bennett’s poorly-reasoned, poorly-researched piece on reverse mortgage, published yesterday in The Motley Fool. The first time I was emailed a link and asked to comment I was willing to be forbearing: year’s end is historically slow in the financial markets, and doubtless the reporter was compensating by resorting to a favorite whipping boy.

Then I was sent the piece again for comment. And again. And…yet again. And pathetically, each was from a different news outlet. Apparently, fact-checkers for every major American publication are in Boca for the New Year, and left their cell phones in their hotel room.

So let me address some of most laughable, some of the most sensationalistic, and also some of the rudest and most elder-demeaning statements made by Motley Fool reporter Peter Bennett.

Bennett lists 10 reasons not to consider a reverse mortgage, and nearly each point becomes more fantastical. I have picked out his first couple points and last couple points, and analysed them sentence by sentence.

Point 1. High fees

Statement: Closing costs for a typical 30-year mortgage might run $3,000.

Reply: True. But they might not run $3,000. Closing costs are contingent upon many factors, and to pull a number from thin air is presumptuous and subject-matter ignorant.

Statement: For a reverse mortgage, they could run as much as $15,000.

Reply: True, but they might not run $15,000. There are many, many factors that determine closing costs, and in some cases closing costs could be, well, the $3,000 Bennett seems fond of.

Statement: That’s a lot of money just to access the equity in your own house.

Reply: Says who? If closing costs are this high it typically means there is a “forward” mortgage being paid off. A monthly mortgage payment is the single biggest monthly expenditure for most seniors, and a refinance that reduces their payment $70 a month just isn’t going to do the trick as far as putting them on solid financial footing. What they need is NO monthly mortgage payment, and a financial buffer. A reverse mortgage is the only main-stream refinance product available that can provide both, and that creates a solution to the cash flow problem so common during retirement.

Statement: Reverse mortgages come with more regulations than a regular mortgage so that accounts for some of the additional fees.

Reply: Baloney. Check your facts, Mr. Bennett.

Statement: Lenders also charge more because they claim they take on unique risks, in that reverse mortgages aren’t based on your income or credit score.

Reply:  Again I say baloney and check your facts. Or, better yet, cite your references.

Point 2. Property taxes and homeowners insurance to pay

Statement: With a reverse mortgage, the property remains in your name.

Reply: Score one for the “B” – he got this one right.

Statement: And because the property is in your name, you are responsible for paying all property taxes.

Reply: Um, do you know how this works, Mr. Bennett? They’re already paying property taxes themselves if they have no mortgage, and if they do have a mortgage, they’re escrowing for them. They’re already paying. This is not a new concept for a homeowner aged 62 or older. AND, many older homeowners qualify for a property tax reduction or for a property tax waiver. Their reverse mortgage does not impact their eligibility for this.

Statement: The lender also requires that you continue to carry homeowners insurance.

Reply: This is also not a new concept for a homeowner. And it is really rather demeaning to suggest the mature, experienced homeowner is not aware of homeowners insurance.

I’m going to skip several points here, each of which contain line after remarkable line of trash talk. But the last two points are so bad I can’t skip them.

Point 9. Stringent repayment rules

Statement: Typically, when the last remaining borrower living in a reverse mortgage property dies, the FHA requires loan servicers to send a letter showing the balance of the loan due.

Reply: No “typically” here: the servicer is required to send a statement of the balance due.

Statement: Upon receipt, the heir or estate administrator has 30 days to declare whether the loan will be repaid or the home sold.

Reply: By federal mandate there is an automatic 6-month period to sell or refinance the home, with two additional, six-month extensions possible.

Statement:  If no decision is made, the lender can initiate foreclosure proceedings.

Reply:  If no decision is made on any financed home, the lender can initiate foreclosure proceedings – and no 6-month grace period is tendered in the case of a “forward” mortgage. It’s just plain rude to imply homeowners and their families are unaware that homes with financing have to be dealt with.

Point 10. Heirs get less

Statement: As every month passes, the homeowner with a reverse mortgage sees debt increase and equity home equity (sic) decrease.

Reply: This is an appalling presentation of half the story. The amount the lender has lent collects interest, which will be repaid along with the loan, once the last person on the mortgage has permanently left the home. However, if homeowners have a line of credit, that line accrues a compounding growth month over month – imagine it’s a lump of bread dough sitting on the counter, getting bigger over time. The line of credit will grow even if the home goes down in value.

Statement: That equation doesn’t benefit heirs, so if you planned on leaving your heirs a little something, it will probably be very “little.”

Reply: Want to know what really doesn’t benefit heirs, Mr. Bennett? Adult children of aging parents burning through their own retirement funds at a double pace as they struggle to help finance their elderly parent’s longevity. If that older parent, however, can be self-pay through the end of life, his/her adult children stand a much greater chance of enjoying financial survival in their own retirement.

So to the armchair critics of reverse mortgage I say this: check your facts. Do your research. And don’t sit in judgment on those striving to maintain their own independence and dignity during retirement.

If you have questions regarding reverse mortgage, or would like to receive published research on the contribution reverse mortgage can make toward financial survivability in retirement, give me a call. I always love hearing from you.

Laurie

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 Laurie@MiddleburgReverse.com

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

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 Laurie@MiddleburgReverse.com

Stick to What You Know, Suze

I don’t own a television – I never have. And, frankly, I cannot imagine any scenario under which I would want one. This fact is material to what I say next:

Suze Orman needs to butt out of discussions on topics she clearly does not know well.

In order here is a bit of background leading up to this admittedly snarky statement.

This past week I attended an event where a woman said to me, “I don’t really know much about reverse mortgages, but Suze Orman doesn’t like them – so that’s enough for me.” I mentioned I didn’t know who Suze Orman was, and the woman, clearly shocked, answered, “Suze Orman? She’s on TV. She’s America’s financial guru.”

STRIKE THREE, Suze. You’re out, girlfriend.

Strike one is this: for one television personality to impose her opinion upon her entire viewing audience displays presumptuousness beyond measure. Where does she get off saying the 6,000,000 million Americans over the age of 62 have the same needs, and can be told, out of hand, a reverse mortgage should be a last resort? This is particularly audacious in light of the many scholarly pieces published within the past three years showing so-called “reserve reverse” mortgages – those established early and used to augment other savings – greatly increase odds of financial survival in retirement. She’s out of date, off base, and apparently not well read.

Strike two: in her online transcript Orman says, “I would much rather you base your retirement on other income sources—your savings, Social Security, and a pension.” I would love to meet the person who says, “By golly, I would never have thought of that. Use my Social Security, pension, and savings to cover my living expenses? Thank God for Suze Orman, or I would have missed that altogether.”

To this point I say this: one of the worst things I see in the course of my job is the person doing what I call a “rescue reverse” – the person who has drained all other financial buckets, and is now turning to a reverse mortgage as a last resort. Many times, indeed, perhaps most times, had this person done a reverse mortgage when he still had other monies available, he would not be left wondering if his money would last. This is not hypothetical: the studies have been done, and these by major universities and retirement research institutes.

And…strike three? “America’s financial guru.” America’s financial guru? There are 360,000,000 Americans. That’s a lot of people for one “guru.” I’m surprised Janet Yellen, Ben Bernanke, Harold Evensky, Robert Shiller, or any of the other 54 Americans to win the Nobel Prize in economics didn’t make the list.  And anyway, who says she’s America’s financial guru? It’s like saying Sandra Bullock is America’s sweetheart. Thank you, but I reserve the right to pick my own sweetheart – and my own financial advisor.

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 reverse mortgage might help with your retirement plans, give me a call. I always love hearing from you.

Laurie

Laurie MacNaughton [NMLS 506562] is a freelance writer and Reverse Mortgage Consultant at Middleburg Mortgage. She can be reached at: 703-477-1183 or Laurie@MiddleburgReverse.com.

Alien Abductions, Anyone?

Laurie MacNaughton [506562]

This past week an article on reverse mortgage appeared in the online edition of CNNMoney, a publication with a solid history of well-written, well-researched financial news. Last week’s piece, however, entitled Reverse mortgages: Safer, but far from risk-free, is chock full of inaccuracies, muddled concepts, and inflammatory comments, and is altogether unworthy of an esteemed publication. Just about the only way the reporting could be worse was if it included interviews with victims of alien abductions.

The article’s subtitle reads, About 10% of reverse mortgage borrowers go into default. Apparently, author Les Christie failed to read the report from which this statistic was taken. Or is it rather that CNNMoney editorial staff jobs have been outsourced to piecework editors in India? Whichever the case, the inaccurate reporting is inexcusable.

Accurate information on FHA-insured reverse mortgages is not hard to come by – but it does require at least a minimum of fact-checking, and – gasp – a careful reading of the publicly-available congressional reverse mortgage audit.

If this blogpost were simply a rant about yet another sensationalistic slam aimed at reverse mortgage, it would not be worth the reading, much less the writing.

But here’s the thing: something far larger is at stake here, namely, the financial well-being of an already fearful, highly vulnerable sector – Americans heading into retirement and those already well into their retirement years.

With every inflammatory, factually-inaccurate, poorly-researched piece, seniors grow yet more fearful of a product that has a long track record of success when used as part of a long-term financial plan. Les Christie and CNNMoney do seniors no favor by presenting obsolete objections, inaccurate figures, and wrongly-interpreted statistics.

Reverse mortgage was never intended to meet every financial goal in retirement. However, it can create a federally-insured financial safety net, an extra financial “bucket,” to draw upon in the retirement years.

If you would like to learn more about how FHA-insured reverse mortgage may help meet your retirement goals – or would just like to talk – give me a call. I always love hearing from you.

Laurie

Laurie MacNaughton [NMLS 506562] is a freelance writer and Reverse Mortgage Consultant at Middleburg Mortgage. She can be reached at: 703-477-1183 or Laurie@MiddleburgReverse.com.

Reversal of Fortune – One Advisor’s Use of Reverse Mortgage in Planning Boomers’ Retirement

Boomers not only went into the Great Recession with scanty savings, but they have had less time to recover before retirement. Consequently, reverse mortgage is likely to play a crucial role in their long-term financial planning.

This is a great piece on one wealth manager’s use of reverse mortgages as he works to create a secure retirement for his clients.

http://www.financial-planning.com/30-days-30-ways-2013/reversal-of-fortune-2686616-1.html?ET=financialplanning:e14811:71855a:&st=email&gpt_units=/30Days30Ways/

To learn more about reverse mortgage, give me a call – I always love hearing from you.

Laurie

Laurie MacNaughton [NMLS# 506562] · Reverse Mortgage Consultant, President’s Club · Middleburg Mortgage, a Division of Middleburg Bank · 20937 Ashburn Road, Suite 115 ·Ashburn, Virginia 20147 · 703-477-1183 Direct · LMacNaughton@MiddleburgBank.com

Licensed in: Maryland (MD), Washington, DC, Virginia (VA), Pennsylvania (PA), Delaware (DE), North Carolina (NC), South Carolina (SC), Georgia (GA), Tennessee (TN).

Thickness, Congestion, Repugnance…And the Preservation of Dignity

This week past my friend Jean and I took a road trip from sweltering Washington, D.C. to almost as sweltering Gloucester, Massachusetts. On the way we stopped in Boston to visit Jean’s parents, where she introduced me as the “geekiest friend” she knows.

I thought this unfair: she must have at least one geekier friend.

In any event, on the trip I listened with rapt attention to a lecture by Harvard professor Alvin E. Roth, the George Gund Professor of Economics at Harvard Business School.

The lecture carries the remarkably boring title, “What We Have Learned From Market Design,” and discusses three elements that trip up markets, whether we’re talking about kidney transplants, adoption…or, presumably, the hottest new iPhone.

Basically, the three elements are as follows:

Thickness: do enough people need what you offer?

Congestion: can enough be produced to make it widely available?

Repugnance: is what you offer socially acceptable?

Now, I’m a Reverse Mortgage Specialist, a mortgage banker. Seniors – or their adult children – come to me for money. So why did Dr. Roth’s lecture captivate me? And why do you care?

One of the biggest challenges facing us is how, as a nation, we are going to keep our seniors – our parents, friends, neighbors, the older members of our communities – safe, sound, and secure as they retire, relocate, and move ever deeper into old age. And much of this revolves around their housing.

And that’s where Dr. Roth’s lecture comes in:

Thickness: In America, 10,000 – TEN THOUSAND – boomers a day turn 62. The U.S. Census Bureau defines a mid-sized town as one having 250,000 people. That means every 25 days enough people in America turn 62 to fill a city – an entire mid-sized city. We are talking about lots and lots and lots of people – 76 million, to be precise – who over the next 18 years are going retire, move…and in many cases, need additional funds to make it through retirement. People, lots of people, need, or will need, an FHA HECM, also known as a reverse mortgage.

Congestion: Under current guidelines, to qualify for a reverse mortgage a person must be at least 62 and have sufficient home equity to pay off any existing loans on the home. The reason credit score, employment, or income doesn’t matter is because the borrower does not pay back the loan; the home pays back the loan once the borrower no longer needs the home. As long as we have homeowners, we have what we need to keep those homeowners in their own home.

Repugnance: I’ll be blunt – the old, pre-FHA reverse mortgage had a wretched history. However, the new FHA HECM is federally insured, federally regulated, and very closely monitored. This is as it should be – after all, we’re talking about your parents and mine, your neighbors and mine, and, eventually, you and me. Nonetheless, despite all the meticulous oversight, addressing fear of my loan product is a big part of what I do. With the huge educational programs and advertising campaigns over the past few years, the perception has begun to change, but misunderstandings still abound.

We’re all in the same boat: day by day we get older, our parents get older, and the nation’s financial situation gets a little more strained. The fear of running out of money in retirement dogs many of our seniors. Ask seniors and they’ll tell you: reduced circumstances and the attendant loss of dignity is not far from their thoughts. Fortunately, there are options.

If you or someone you know would like to talk, give me a call. I always love hearing from you.

Laurie

Laurie MacNaughton [NMLS# 506562] · Reverse Mortgage Consultant · Middleburg Mortgage, a Division of Middleburg Bank · 20937 Ashburn Road, Suite 115 ·Ashburn, Virginia 20147 · 703-477-1183 Direct · LMacNaughton@MiddleburgBank.com · www.middleburgmortgage.com/lauriem

Visit my Informational Blog at https://middleburgreverselady.wordpress.com/

To watch Dr. Alvin E. Roth’s lecture go to:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qrYC0Ojf-o

Reversing Years’ Worth of Skepticism

Even if they don’t adhere to it, most people have at least heard of the “bucket” strategy of saving for retirement. Basically, it’s a method of asset allocation, a way to diversify investments and save for the day you’re no longer working full time.

But here’s a question you might not know the answer to: for most people, what is the biggest – and best funded – bucket?  Cash equivalents? Fixed-income securities? Pension?

Answer: No, no, and no. For most people, the single biggest “investment bucket” is their home.

You can think about it this way: you might have designated several buckets. But if you didn’t put sufficient money into them during the working years, those buckets are not going to get you through retirement. However, most Americans paid into their home, even during the past few years when times were tough.

But here’s the problem: after spending years pouring the first fruits of one’s income into the home, that money is frozen, tied up in an illiquid asset. It’s an investment, certainly. But it’s not one easily converted into an income stream for retirement.

Increasingly, however, drawing upon that bucket by means of an FHA reverse mortgage is being recommended as a way to meet seniors’ financial needs during retirement.

FHA reverse mortgages have been around since 1988. But until recently, the financial planning community viewed them as the dirty underbelly of financial products.  It was the rare financial planner who saw any legitimate use for them whatsoever, let alone who used them in a strategic way.

However, within the past few years scores of scholarly studies have shown both the near-term and long-term positive impact of reverse on standard of living, financial portfolios, and estates.

In “How Important Is Asset Allocation To Financial Security in Retirement?” authors Munnell, Orlova, and Webb with Center for Retirement Research at Boston College state:

…[F]inancial advice…tends to focus on financial assets, applying tools that give prominence to the asset allocation decision. But most people have little financial wealth, and financial tools are often silent on the levers that will have a much larger effect on retirement security for the majority of Americans. These levers include delaying retirement, tapping housing equity through a reverse mortgage, and controlling spending [emphasis added].

Of particular interest to many financial planners is that, when set up as a monthly payment option, a reverse mortgage basically annuitizes the home – and it’s a considerably bigger annuity than most people would have been able to establish in the years they were supporting their family, helping with college tuitions…and paying their mortgage.

Rick Gow, wealth manager with the independent investment firm Lara, Shull, and May in Falls Church, Virginia, cites the example of a 66-year-old with a house valued at $400,000.

After subtracting closing costs, the retiree could receive a tax-free, monthly check of $1,252 for as long as the home remains the primary residence. By the time the homeowner turns 85, disbursements would total more than $289,100; by age 95, the total payouts would be over $435,600.

If the homeowner were to take a onetime, lump sum payout, he or she would receive approximately $256,800.  A third option would set aside that amount in a line of credit, the balance of which grows over time, tax free.

There is also a newer, reduced fee FHA reverse mortgage, called the HECM Saver. The over-all payout is less with this option, but Gow points out the lower closing costs make it a good option for some.

The majority of Americans fear running out of money in retirement more than they fear death, according to a May, 2012 AARP bulletin. In an America where 10,000 boomers a day turn 62, the FHA reverse mortgage has an increasingly pivotal role to play in retirement planning.

I always love hearing from you. Call me at any time with questions.

Laurie

Laurie MacNaughton [NMLS# 506562] · Reverse Mortgage Consultant · Middleburg Mortgage, a Division of Middleburg Bank · 20937 Ashburn Road, Suite 115 ·Ashburn, Virginia 20147 · 703-477-1183 Direct · LMacNaughton@MiddleburgBank.com · www.middleburgmortgage.com/lauriem

Visit my Informational Blog at https://middleburgreverselady.wordpress.com/

Babies Don’t Have Dumb Ideas

When my daughters were teenagers I often said the biggest difference between teens and babies is that babies don’t have dumb ideas yet.

But both teens and babies have this in common: just a couple years later, both are more capable, more independent, and better able to care for themselves.

It’s tough to acknowledge, but I now have to add my mother to the comparison.

My mother is probably the most gifted person I know: brilliant, beautiful, funny, well read, extensively traveled, graceful and poised.

But she is getting old, and her proficiency in daily tasks is falling away at a relentless pace. And, unlike either babies or teens, a couple more years is not going to make the issue any better.

NPR Morning Edition’s Jessica Smith, in “Baby Boomer Money Squeeze Worsens, Multi-Gen Households Rise” (June 6, 2012), writes,

Roughly 78 million baby boomers are moving into their retirement years now. At first, they will be the “young” old. Legions of retired boomers soon will be walking around the mall, volunteering with community groups and taking grandchildren on trips.

At first, that can be good for the economy. But this immense generation, born between 1946 and 1964, will keep aging. Based on current medical outcomes, most of the people who live beyond age 85 will end up with dementia or other disabilities that require costly care.

Here’s how fast the numbers will ratchet up: In 1990, only about 3 million Americans were over the age of 85. Today, the figure is 6 million. By 2050, the United States will be home to about 19 million people older than 85, according to U.S. Census projections.(http://www.npr.org/2012/06/05/154001412/baby-boom-money-squeeze-is-set-to-get-tighter)

Almost 20 percent of advanced elderly Americans now live with their aging adult children, putting tremendous pressure on “leading edge” boomers who are hitting traditional retirement age. Boomers tended to have fewer children, later in life, which in some cases has resulted in their still having dependents at home at a time previous generations would have been saving intensively for retirement. Additionally, many middle-aged parents find themselves helping grown children who have lost jobs, homes, and businesses – the classic “sandwich generation” squeeze, made more intense by a prolonged recession.

We are a becoming a nation of the old and the older, the squeezed and the very squeezed.

Writes Ms. Smith, “For individuals, families, local government officials and federal taxpayers, this demographic shift will drain dollars and attention, and force extremely difficult decisions about living arrangements, as well as end-of-life care.”

When we have these talks about taxes and government, what kind of numbers are we talking about?  The primary number to watch is the national debt: in 1970, when boomers were young, the national debt ran about 28 percent of gross domestic product. It now stands at 70 percent.

And, as in the case of my mother, a couple more years is not going to make this issue any better.

According to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Medicare will remain solvent until 2024. Starting last year, Social Security already began paying out more than it takes in.

As former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker, a federal spending expert says, “Government has grown too big, promised too much and waited too long to restructure. It is going to spend less over time … which means that individuals will have to plan, save and invest for the future.”

Plan, save, invest…and take out a reverse mortgage, according to research put out by Boston College in May, 2012.

….but more in my next piece about several watershed reverse mortgage articles published this spring by major research institutions.

Laurie

         Laurie MacNaughton [NMLS# 506562] · Reverse Mortgage Consultant · Middleburg Mortgage, a Division of Middleburg Bank ·                   20937 Ashburn Road, Suite 115 ·Ashburn, Virginia 20147 · 703-477-1183 Direct · LMacNaughton@MiddleburgBank.com www.middleburgmortgage.com/lauriem

Visit my Informational Blog at https://middleburgreverselady.wordpress.com/

FHA Weighs Rule Reversal, Boon for Condo Sales?

Daily Real Estate News | Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Federal Housing Administration is reportedly considering revising rules that many in the real estate industry have called overly strict and that have left many condo units ineligible for FHA’s low-downpayment mortgages.

For example, one sticking point under the FHA’s rules has been that “individual condo units cannot be sold to buyers using FHA-insured mortgages unless the property as a whole has been approved for financing,” The Wall Street Journal reports. However, condo association boards are increasingly opting not to obtain recertification of their buildings for FHA loans due to its tightened regulations against condo units.

FHA’s regulations “have had an enormous impact on individuals,” says Moe Veissi, president of the National Association of REALTORS®. More condo unit residents are finding they are unable to sell their unit because the condo board hasn’t obtained approval from FHA, Veissi told The Wall Street Journal. This then can have a roll-over affect that negatively impacts the price of condo units in the buildings then.

Half of all condo buyers tend to use FHA mortgages, and it’s an important source of lending for first-time and minority home buyers, Christopher L. Gardner, managing member of FHA Pros, a consulting firm that helps condo boards obtain FHA approvals, told The Wall Street Journal.

FHA officials say they are willing to reconsider some of their rules that have raised such an outcry among condo owners, lenders, and real estate professionals. For example, one rule the FHA is reportedly reconsidering is its stance on non-owner occupancy. As of now, FHA requires that no more than 50 percent of the units in a condo building be non-owner occupies. “This rule alone has made large numbers of condominiums in hard-hit markets ineligible for FHA financing, where investors have purchased units for cash to turn into rentals,” The Wall Street Journal reports.

FHA also is reportedly revisiting its condo rules on how many owners in a building can be delinquent on their fees. As of now, FHA refuses to approve a project if more than 15 percent of the condo units are 30 days or more late on their condo association fees, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Source: “Condo Sales May Become Easier if FHA Revises Rules Governing Mortgages,” The Wall Street Journal (May 18, 2012)

Financial Planners to Reverse Mortgage Lenders: Educate Us

by Elizabeth Ecker Published in News, Reverse Mortgage

A panel of financial planning professionals shared insight with attendees of the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association conference in Irvine, California last week. By and large their message to reverse mortgage professionals was: education is paramount.

While some financial planners do understand the viability of reverse mortgage products and they ways in which they can work for clients, and even with the help of recent positive financial planning press on the products, there is still work to be done on the education front, they say.

“I was getting a lot of phone calls about reverse mortgages,” said Pat McClain, senior partner and founding principal of Hanson McClain Advisors of his early experience with reverse mortgages. “I initially had a negative attitude toward reverse mortgages. But I realized they weren’t the reverse mortgages of old; they actually help people if used correctly.”

McClain, who became one of the founders of Liberty Reverse, now advises clients on financial planning. While his mind was changed, there are still others who need help understanding how the products can work.

“In terms of clients’ perceptions, there is still a lot of work to be done,” says Jerry Clements, certified financial planner with Ameriprise. “For most there is a negative connotation when I talk to clients.”

But, Clements says, there are ways reverse mortgage professionals can work with financial planners to bring them up to speed. Some are working with reverse mortgage advisors already, others are not.

“A lot of us still have preconceived ideas. …hopefully over time with education [the reverse mortgage] could be something they integrate more as a tool to prevent portfolio failure,” he says.

While real estate professionals focus on location, location, location, McClain says, for financial planners, it’s education that counts.

“For us in the financial planning community, it’s education, education, education,” he says. “You may assume we understand how it works, but some do not have a clue. It’s a process. It may take years to develop the relationship, but if you do and there’s that trust, you will be top of mind. Our clients are asking about it and the more educated we are the more we can help our mutual clients.”

Looking ahead, McClain says, the reverse mortgage could be incorporated into financial planning calculators.

“Figure out as an industry how to bake calculators into financial planning software, so it shows up as a line item. It will make a difference in three to five years, whether they recognize it now, or not.”