Aging Options

Main Street Banks Discover Reverse Mortgages, Says New York Times

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When a financial product becomes so mainstream even the New York Times gives it a thumbs-up, it’s probably time for the skeptics to take another look. And with the growing chorus of financial experts singing the praises – albeit cautiously, in some cases – of reverse mortgages, there seem to be fewer and fewer skeptics left.

This recent article from the New York Times is a case in point. The article, written by financial columnist Ron Lieber, shows how reverse mortgages (technically called “Home Equity Conversion Mortgages,” or HECM’s) are gaining so much acceptance in the financial marketplace that even once-hesitant Main Street bankers, known for their caution and conservatism, are getting into the act. This is great news for many retirees, who may have considered the advantages of an HECM but would rather do business with someone they know and trust – not with some national firm advertising on television with aging celebrities like Henry Winkler and Pat Boone as pitchmen.

In the New York Times piece, author Ron Lieber points out that this type of mortgage which allows borrowers 62 years old and over to tap into their home equity used to have “a pockmarked history.” Sometimes financial charlatans would persuade vulnerable seniors to tap their equity and then risk the funds in shaky investments. There were other horror stories where one spouse would take out a reverse mortgage, only to leave the other spouse out in the cold when the first spouse passed away. Fees were high and risks were a big unknown, leaving many seniors and financial planners with a bad taste in their mouths whenever the topic of reverse mortgages would come up.

No more. Those days appear to have passed. In the words of Ron Lieber, “it may surprise you to learn that some community bankers are quietly offering [reverse mortgages], bringing a kind of Main Street respectability to a product that has long lacked it.”

If you’ve considered using an HECM as part of your retirement plan, we encourage you to read this helpful article, because it echoes a viewpoint we’ve advocated for years. First, do your homework – and second, whenever possible, work with someone you know and trust. Here at Aging Options we can recommend highly experienced, thoroughly ethical experts (such as frequent guest on our radio program Laura Kiel) whom you can consult with absolute confidence. By working face to face with a knowledgeable professional, exploring your unique circumstances and getting all your questions answered, you can decide if a reverse mortgage is right for you. If it is, you may discover as many have that an HECM could be the ideal solution to your cash flow needs in retirement, augmenting your Social Security and retirement savings with virtually no risk. No wonder those conservative bankers from the New York Times article are looking at reverse mortgages in a fresh new way.

If you’re ready for a fresh look at your retirement plan, we can help. Here at Aging Options we take a comprehensive approach to the process of planning for retirement – a process we call LifePlanning. With a LifePlan in place, every aspect of your future plans – financial, legal, housing, medical, even family – is thoroughly and professionally addressed. The result: you’ll look forward to retirement with confidence, even excitement.

If that sounds like the attitude you long for, why not begin the process by attending one of our free, information-packed LifePlanning Seminars? You can register for the seminar of your choice simply by clicking on the Upcoming Events tab – or by calling our office. And if you have specific questions about reverse mortgages, or any retirement-related topic, we would welcome the chance to be your guide. We’ll look forward to meeting you at a LifePlanning Seminar soon.

(originally reported at



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