Three Things You Never Knew About A HECM Reverse Mortgage

Three Things You Never Knew About A HECM Reverse Mortgage

Northridge, Reseda, Encino, Granada Hills, Sylmar, San Fernando, Sun Valley Reverse Mortgage HECM Janice Cohen CaliforniaReverse mortgages are available to senior homeowners 62 and over, even married couples.  The borrower will live mortgage payment free and always retain the title to the home.  There are many myths and misconceptions that surround reverse mortgages – but there are also some not-so-known perks to the loans.  

Here are my top three:

1.) Most Reverse Mortgages are Insured By the FHA

It is normal for older adults to be concerned with the welfare of their children after their passing. This is one of the reasons many seniors balk at the idea of a reverse mortgage – they don’t want to “saddle their children with their debt.”  

Fortunately, there are safeguards in place to address this issue.

Almost all reverse mortgage are FHA insured. This means under current guidelines there is a large equity reserve that will always protect their home from going upside down.  Even if the homeowner lives to be 110, has used all the equity in the home, and the market has crashed – the heir will NEVER owe more than the home is worth.  FHA/HUD have guaranteed that they will cover the bank’s losses should the situation arise.  This leaves the homeowner and their estate protected against any possible losses.  

It’s important to also know that on the flip side, if the home is worth more than it sells for after the owners passing, the heirs will receive any excess equity available.  The bank will never take more than what is needed to pay off the loan. 

2.) Reverse Mortgages Have the Option of a Growth Line of Credit

For many years, there were only two ways to tap into home equity when obtaining a reverse mortgage – a lump sum or monthly installments.  This is has changed and HUD has added two new options – a Reverse Mortgage Line of Credit (HECM-LOC) which works similar to a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC), with the exception the borrowers will NOT be required to make repayments, and the other option is a Reverse Mortgage for Purchase, which allows seniors to use a reverse mortgage to make a home purchase. 

The line of credit is just as it sounds, it is a line of credit with funds that are available for the homeowner to take when they need it. But the major benefit to this line of credit is it also has a growth factor attached to it. This means that any money left in the line of credit will grow at a rate that is equal to the interest rate and mortgage insurance rates on the loan. 

Here’s an example:

Imagine your HECM-LOC has an interest rate of 4.5% and a mortgage insurance rate of .5%. The combined rate is 5.0%.  You have $100,000 in this line of credit which you don’t plan on using for 15 years unless you need it. That $100,000 is going to grow by 5% annually until you begin accessing those funds.

After year one this line of credit is up to $105,000. After year five the LOC is up to $127,500. And After 15 years the total funds in the line of credit are up to nearly $208,000. In 15 years, that 5% return has grown his available funds by 108%!

3.) A Reverse Mortgage Can Be Used To Purchase A Home

Although the Reverse Mortgage for Purchase program has been around for some years, it’s still relatively unknown – even in the real estate community. 

Reverse mortgages are an excellent option for retirees looking to buy a home near or far.  These loans require a down payment at the time of purchase, but beyond that there are quite a few differences than using a conventional mortgage.  

Borrowers are often able to purchase outside their expected “cash purchase” price range, because the cash is used as a down payment and the remainder of the purchase amount is covered under the reverse mortgage loan, while the borrower lives mortgage payment free.  The borrower will also always retain the title to the home, just as they would with a conventional mortgage.  These loans are also FHA insured, so everything discussed above still applies in that regard. The borrower can own other properties and still qualify as long as the home being purchased is their primary residence.  

Janice Cohen is a HECM Reverse Mortgage Specialist serving the Northridge, Reseda, Encino, Granada Hills, Sylmar, San Fernando, Sun Valley and many more areas of southern California.  Click here to contact Janice and learn if reverse mortgage is right for you.

Gray Divorce Rates Are Climbing – Can Reverse Mortgage Help?

Gray Divorce Rates Are Climbing – Can Reverse Mortgage Help?

A Pew Research poll highlighted a very interesting trend among divorce in the United States – while divorce rates have drastically declined among younger adults, it’s nearly doubled among adults 50 and over in the past 25 years. 

The truth is, it’s becoming more and more common for seniors to divorce after retirement.  This is happening for various reasons, but a big one is that retirement now lasts for decades versus only years, and many people are looking to make those golden years the best yet.

But senior divorces can get messy, as there are often many assets to sort out.  During divorce negotiations, a home is often one of these assets.  This home is possibly owned free and clear, or with a lot of equity.  For divorcees age 62 and over, a reverse mortgage can be used as a tool to help with settling this asset during divorce.  The great thing about reverse mortgage is it allows someone to stay in the home and live mortgage payment free, AND access funds from the equity.  Here are a couple scenarios in which reverse mortgage would be of benefit.

Scenario 1: When splitting the home asset, instead of selling the home, one party could be allowed to stay in the home and obtain a reverse mortgage, of which the other party receives the funds from.  This can be a win-win.  In cases like this, the financial settlement can even be wrapped into the loan if the divorce is final before the closing.  This would mean a reverse mortgage would be part of the divorce settlement discussion.  It is important to understand that the party that remains in the home will be responsible for certain obligations pertaining to the home, such as property taxes and homeowners insurance.

Scenario 2: Possibly you’re used to living off two incomes – whether it be from work, or social security and pensions.  Suddenly dropping down to one income can be devastating.  In cases like this getting the home in divorce proceedings can be a huge benefit, as once the divorce is final, a reverse mortgage could be obtained on the home.  The funds could come in monthly installments, a line of credit (that grows), or a lump sum.  In addition, if you wanted to sell the home and move, a reverse mortgage could be used to purchase the new home – and can even allow you seek homes that would otherwise not be in your price range.  The best part?  You will always live mortgage payment free.

If you are considering a divorce, or sifting through the process, don’t hesitate to contact me to further understand how reverse mortgage can help, and whether or not you qualify.

Janice Cohen is a HECM Reverse Mortgage Specialist serving the North Hollywood, Sunland, Tujunga, Burbank, Glendale, La Crescenta, Montrose and many more areas of southern California.  Click here to contact Janice and learn if reverse mortgage is right for you.

Understanding Elder Law

Understanding Elder Law

Northridge, Reseda, Encino, Granada Hills, Sylmar, San Fernando, Sun Valley Reverse Mortgage HECM Janice Cohen CaliforniaElder law is a relatively unknown segment of law and is often overlooked when seeking legal solutions.  But for some seniors and their families an elder law attorney may be exactly what they need.  Elder law is very broad and includes things like estate planning, probate, guardianship, real estate, nursing home neglect and a dozen other areas of law that affect the elderly. Typically one lawyer will not have expertise in every area, but will instead work with a network of attorneys who can supplement in specific areas when needed and vice versa.  Also, keep in mind just because an individual is elderly does not mean they need an elder law attorney.  Elder law is focused on legal problems specific to the elderly.  Concerns with other areas of law may best be handled by attorneys dedicated to those areas.

An elder law attorney should be educated and informed on reverse mortgage.  It is common for them to receive questions from clients, former clients, and their families about reverse mortgage when establishing estate plans or when they are considering a reverse mortgage for the first time.  Although reverse mortgages can be an excellent and safe tool for many homeowners, they are not for everyone and are most effective when used as part of a financial and estate plan.  It is highly encouraged to make sure any question receives an adequate answer when considering reverse mortgage – and often elder law attorneys are part of that equation.  This can also help with avoiding reverse mortgage scams.

Here are a few questions to ask when seeking out a an elder law attorney:

  • How long has the attorney been practicing?
  • What percentage of the attorney’s practice is devoted to elder law?
  • Does his or her practice emphasize a particular area of elder law? (for instance, guardianship or other specific work)
  • How much elder law training has the attorney had, and from what organizations?
  • Is the attorney a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys?
  • Will the attorney be able to work within your time limitations?

In addition to a legal network, an elder law attorney should be familiar with the “elder network”, a network of public and private community resources to assist seniors in various capacities.  This should include a reputable reverse mortgage lender.

Janice Cohen is a HECM Reverse Mortgage Specialist serving the North Hollywood, Sunland, Tujunga, Burbank, Glendale, La Crescenta, Montrose and many more areas of southern California.  Click here to contact Janice and learn if reverse mortgage is right for you.

Will A HECM Reverse Mortgage Affect Social Security, Medicare & Pension?

Northridge, Reseda, Encino, Granada Hills, Sylmar, San Fernando, Sun Valley Reverse Mortgage HECM Janice Cohen CaliforniaWill A HECM Reverse Mortgage Affect Social Security, Medicare & Pension?

A very common concern among seniors and adult children when considering a reverse mortgage is how it will affect social security, medicare, and even certain pensions.  For many seniors, these benefits are a large part of their income. Fortunately, because the funds from a reverse mortgage are NOT considered taxable income, a borrower’s benefits will not be affected when taking out a reverse mortgage.

On the other hand, borrowers who have Medicaid, TANF, Food Stamps or SSI may see those benefits affected by this additional income.   Because these programs are government sponsored programs with strict approval guidelines based on all sources of income, even non-taxable income, there is a possibility the additional cash flow will need reported.  Other supplemental and assistance programs would need to be addressed on a case by case basis.  Working with a reputable reverse mortgage lender and required third party counseling will ensure all your questions are answered thoroughly and honestly.

Reverse mortgages are available to homeowners 62 and older.  The proceeds can be received as a lump sum, as monthly installments, or a reverse line of credit and can be used for any purpose the borrower sees fit.  This FHA insured loan allows the borrower(s) to live mortgage payment free.

Janice Cohen is a HECM Reverse Mortgage Specialist serving the North Hollywood, Sunland, Tujunga, Burbank, Glendale, La Crescenta, Montrose and many more areas of southern California.  Click here to contact Janice and learn if reverse mortgage is right for you.

What Do Retirees Really Want?

Agoura Hills, Oak Park, Calabasas, Chatsworth, Canoga Park, Woodland Hills Reverse Mortgage HECM Janice CohenIf 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.

Janice Cohen is a HECM Reverse Mortgage Specialist serving the North Hollywood, Sunland, Tujunga, Burbank, Glendale, La Crescenta, Montrose and many more areas of southern California.  Click here to contact Janice and learn if reverse mortgage is right for you.

Why a Reverse Mortgage is a Good Financial Strategy

Agoura Hills, Oak Park, Calabasas, Chatsworth, Canoga Park, Woodland Hills Reverse Mortgage HECM Janice CohenReverse mortgages are available to seniors 62 and over who either have their home paid off or have substantial equity.  Certain criteria applies to the home in order to meet HUD’s rules, and although anyone on the loan must be 62 and over, they are available to married couples the same as individuals.  The funds available from these FHA insured loans are available in various ways including monthly installments, a lump sum, a line of credit, and as a purchase option.  Even with all these funding choices, reverse mortgages are not right for everyone but they are a perfect match for many.

When is Reverse Mortgage a good financial strategy?

Think of reverse mortgage as a financial tool that turns home equity into cash WITHOUT incurring a loan payment, unlike a traditional mortgage or home equity loan.  No repayment is due as long as the borrower is living in the home.  This also goes for married couples, in which case no repayment would be due until the last borrower permanently leaves the home.  The borrower will still be responsible for some things related to the home, such as property taxes and homeowners insurance.

Reverse mortgages are increasing in popularity as more retirement and financial planners are recommending their use as a potential tool.  Typically retirement planners have used a three legged stool as an example for their clients – saving, social security, and pensions make up this visual structure.  But with changes in the economy and uncertain futures, pensions are disappearing.  In this scenario, those who are “house rich, but cash poor” may find using home equity to balance out the stool is a saving grace.  In addition, for those secure in all three areas, adding home equity can be used as a safety net or to delay, thus enhance, certain areas.

The reverse mortgage industry underwent some changes last year as legislation was passed making these loans a safer option for both borrowers and lenders.  As a result, the reputation that once surrounded the industry has drastically improved and their use is being studied by some of the most prominent retirement experts.

Janice Cohen is a HECM Reverse Mortgage Specialist serving the North Hollywood, Sunland, Tujunga, Burbank, Glendale, La Crescenta, Montrose and many more areas of southern California.  Click here to contact Janice and learn if reverse mortgage is right for you.

Why Your Retirement Will Be Different Than Your Parents

Northridge, Reseda, Encino, Granada Hills, Sylmar, San Fernando, Sun Valley Reverse Mortgage HECM Janice Cohen CaliforniaDecades ago, when our parents were working and raising a family, they looked at retirement as the true golden years.  It would be a time when they stopped working and lived off the fruits of their savings and investments.  Retirement planners used a three-legged-stool strategy back then.  The make up of this stool was Social Security, employer-sponsored retirement plans, and personal savings.  But somewhere between their retirement and now this stool became unbalanced – and now today’s retirees are needing to compensate for it.  But how?

First, it’s important to remember that these three components of retirement are still an integral part of retirement success, which is why it should be considered how they can be best utilized as well as protected.  But it’s also important to consider what else has changed – things like life expectancy, a more active retirement, and a move toward non-traditional and even extravagant retirement goals.   Why not have it all?  And what are the options to achieve it?

Part-Time Work: It’s not uncommon for retirees to utilize a phased retirement strategy, where they can work and begin receiving benefits.  In addition to the obvious point of this – additional income – working can help to delay Social Security benefits, as well as keep older people engaged in the community.  

Reverse Mortgage: For those with substantial equity in their homes, a reverse mortgage can be an excellent way to balance out that stool analogy with a fourth leg, or simply get the boost retirees need to live that extravagant retirement life they’ve been dreaming of.  Funds are available via a line of credit, monthly installments, a lump sum, and even to purchase home (or a combination).  Because the income is not taxed, it can be used strategically with investments, or used to delay Social Security benefits.  Another common function is a stand-by strategy that taps the line of credit now, but only uses it during bear markets to protect investments.  These FHA backed reverse mortgages do not incur any mortgage or loan payments, although borrowers must keep up with homeowner’s insurance, property taxes, and other associated costs.  In addition to living mortgage payment free, they can actually eliminate any existing mortgage or HELOC payments, and the loan is not payable until the last borrower passes away or permanently leaves the home.  

Downsizing and HELOC’s:  When considering how to make ends meet during retirement, downsizing is often part of the conversation.  Selling the home and moving to smaller one, then using any additional equity as a retirement funding source.  For anyone considering this, I’d suggest looking at the details of a Reverse Mortgage for Purchase prior to making a final decision.  A Reverse Mortgage for Purchase option can allow buyers to get more house for their money, while still having cash to stash away for retirement. 

A Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) is another common solution.  When going this route versus a reverse mortgage, ensure the new monthly payment will not cause damage down the road if other needs arise, like medical care.  

Reverse mortgages certainly won’t be right for everyone, but for many they can be used creatively to aid in funding today’s retirement that is so different than what we are used to.  

Janice Cohen is a HECM Reverse Mortgage Specialist serving the North Hollywood, Sunland, Tujunga, Burbank, Glendale, La Crescenta, Montrose and many more areas of southern California.  Click here to contact Janice and learn if reverse mortgage is right for you.

Finding a HECM Reverse Mortgage Lender

For many retirees, a reverse mortgage is a feasible option to living the golden years they always dreamed of, or for others it may be a path to living within a budget without the constraints and worry of excessive financial distress.  In order to qualify for a reverse mortgage, the individual must own their home, be at least 62 years old, and have some equity in the home.  In general, the older the borrower (or the youngest borrower in the case of married couples) and the more valuable the home, the more reverse mortgage funds will be available.  Other factors also come into play, such as: the appraised home value, interest rates, and the amount of equity in the home.  Once a basic understanding of how a reverse mortgage works, the next step is finding a lender.

Where to find a lender?

Reverse mortgages are marketed in every possible way.  Television, radio, mailers, internet, etc.  Although not all of these methods ensure trouble, some of them can be scams.  When seeking a reverse mortgage lender, it’s important to speak with people you trust.  Ask around at your bank or financial institution.  Speak with a financial or retirement adviser.  Talk with neighbors or friends who have utilized a reverse mortgage.  Seek information from the local Chamber of Commerce or Senior Centers.   Utilize other resources that may be available in your community.

What to look for in a reverse mortgage lender?

Working with a reputable reverse mortgage lender is critical.  It can be risky to get involved with a lender who does not offer all the details or who is just looking to make a “quick sell”.   A reputable lender will have strong connections in the community, working closely with a network of professional organizations.

Accreditation and ratings?

Seek out a lender that is a member of the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA).  Members of the NRMLA must conform to a strict code of lending ethic.  Look for a lender that is affiliated with the  Better Business Bureau (BBB), where you can also learn of any complaints against the company.

Follow your gut.

When it comes down to it, always follow your gut.  Just because a lender may meet all this criteria doesn’t mean they will be right for you.  If you do not feel comfortable or feel your questions are not being adequately answered, there is nothing wrong with seeking out a different lender.

Janice Cohen is a HECM Reverse Mortgage Specialist serving the North Hollywood, Sunland, Tujunga, Burbank, Glendale, La Crescenta, Montrose and many more areas of southern California.  Click here to contact Janice and learn if reverse mortgage is right for you.

Managing A Divorce With A HECM Reverse Mortgage

It’s becoming more and more common for seniors to divorce after retirement.  This is happening for various reasons, but a big one is that retirement now last for decades versus only years, and many people are looking to make those golden years the best yet.

But senior divorces can get messy, as there are often many assets to sort out.  During divorce negotiations, a home is often one of these assets.  This home is possibly owned free and clear, or with a lot of equity.  For divorcees age 62 and over, a reverse mortgage can be used as a tool to help with settling this asset during divorce.  The great thing about reverse mortgage is it allows someone to stay in the home and live mortgage payment free, AND access funds from the equity.  Here are a couple scenarios in which reverse mortgage would be of benefit.

Scenario 1: When splitting the home asset, instead of selling the home, one party could be allowed to stay in the home and obtain a reverse mortgage, of which the other party receives the funds from.  This can be a win-win.  In cases like this, the financial settlement can even be wrapped into the loan if the divorce is final before the closing.  This would mean a reverse mortgage would be part of the divorce settlement discussion.  It is important to understand that the party that remains in the home will be responsible for certain obligations pertaining to the home, such as property taxes and homeowners insurance.

Scenario 2: Possibly you’re used to living off two incomes – whether it be from work, or social security and pensions.  Suddenly dropping down to one income can be devastating.  In cases like this getting the home in divorce proceedings can be a huge benefit, as once the divorce is final, a reverse mortgage could be obtained on the home.  The funds could come in monthly installments, a line of credit (that grows), or a lump sum.  In addition, if you wanted to sell the home and move, a reverse mortgage could be used to purchase the new home– and can even allow you seek homes that would otherwise not be in your price range.  The best part?  You will always live mortgage payment free.

If you are considering a divorce, or sifting through the process, don’t hesitate to contact me to further understand how reverse mortgage can help, and whether or not you qualify.

Janice Cohen is a HECM Reverse Mortgage Specialist serving the North Hollywood, Sunland, Tujunga, Burbank, Glendale, La Crescenta, Montrose and many more areas of southern California.  Click here to contact Janice and learn if reverse mortgage is right for you.

Delaying Social Security With A HECM Reverse Mortgage

When planning for retirement, there will no doubt be a discussion about when a retiree should start taking their Social Security benefits.

There are perks to delaying, for example Social Security benefits stand to increase as much as 7-8% per year if you don’t apply until age 70.  But many seniors need this income.  With the ability to apply for a reverse mortgage at the age of 62, and current low interest rates, retirees stand to actually make gains by using a reverse mortgage to supplement while delaying benefits.

When approved for a reverse mortgage, the borrower can choose from a variety of ways to access the funds.  It could be a monthly installment, a lump sum, or even a line of credit that in itself stands to grow over time.

This is a creative way to use the hard earned equity in your home to your benefit.  A well educated financial advisor would easily be able to help you decide if this is a good option.  Reverse mortgages are available to seniors 62 and over, including married couples, with an approved type of home.  The borrower will always retain the title to the home and reverse mortgages are insured by the FHA.

Janice Cohen is a HECM Reverse Mortgage Specialist serving the North Hollywood, Sunland, Tujunga, Burbank, Glendale, La Crescenta, Montrose and many more areas of southern California.  Click here to contact Janice and learn if reverse mortgage is right for you.