Laurie MacNaughton 2017
Answer? In several important ways…
Answer? In several important ways…
Yesterday I met with two couples, one in their 60’s and another in their early 80’s. The younger couple was discussing a reverse mortgage as part of their pre-retirement financial planning. The older couple, retired for years, has encountered serious health issues and is drawing down retirement funds at an unsustainable rate. They’ve also been late on their past few mortgage payments, which is likely to complicate their reverse mortgage qualification process.
Couples in their 60’s, couples in their 80’s – this is a pattern so common I had to reflect for perhaps the hundredth time: where are the couples in their 70’s, members of the so-called “Silent Generation”?
I can only conclude the following: 60 may well be the new 40 – but 80 is still 80. However, when you’re in your 70’s and still in the workforce, long past the age at which your parents retired, it can be hard to fathom that within a decade your finances may be stressed and your health may be less than stellar. A strong work-ethic and an uncomplaining acceptance of circumstances served the Silent Generation well…right up until it didn’t.
And here’s the real rub: if the couple I met who now are in their early 80’s had sought financial help five years ago, odds are they would not be in the straights they’re now in.
A reverse mortgage can help in several ways with financial survivability in retirement: it can pay off financing currently on the property. It can establish a line-of-credit safety net that grows over time. Or, reverse mortgage proceeds can be structured as a monthly stipend that arrives each month for as long as at least one homeowner resides in the home.
Reverse mortgages are not a fit for everyone – no one financial product is. But a reverse mortgage is going to play an important role in many homeowners’ financial health in retirement, particularly when used as part of a sound, informed, long-term retirement plan.
If you would like to explore how an FHA-insured reverse mortgage might help with your retirement plans or with the plans of those you love, give me a call. I always love hearing from you.
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 MacNaughton  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
Last month’s National Nursing Home week is unlikely to ever find itself prominent on calendars across America. Why do I say this? Primarily because the vast majority of Americans want to remain as long as possible in their own home.
This being said, however, as a reverse mortgage specialist who deals every day with aging-related housing matters, I can attest to the fact there are issues to address when planning for aging in place.
Common considerations include:
But the biggest factor is the home itself, as most homes were not built with aging in place in mind. For this reason, homeowners must ask themselves if their current home can be adapted to meet their needs as they age.
Fortunately for those of us in the greater Washington, D.C. area, close by are some of the nation’s most recognized contractors specializing in retrofitting homes to meet the needs of aging occupants.
Aging in place adaptations usually involve three elements, including:
1) adding hardware such as grab bars, lever-handled faucets, and hand-held showerheads;
2) installing ramps, lifts, and extra lighting;
3) making architectural changes such as wider doorways and curbless shower stalls, and relocating master bedrooms, full baths, and laundry rooms to the main floor.
While some modifications can be done by a general handyman, larger projects, particularly ones involving actual design changes, should be done by a contractor specializing in aging in place remodeling. Specialists who carry the Certified Aging in Place Specialist, or CAPS, designation are typically the most versed on industry standards and age-related modifications.
While some municipalities offer low-cost or no-interest home modification loans to seniors, these are not universally available, and often are for relatively small amounts. Additionally, many include a monthly repayment schedule.
Reverse mortgage fits perfectly into home modification needs, as there is never a monthly mortgage payment required. When the last homeowner permanently leaves the home, the loan is repaid, and all remaining equity goes to the senior or to the heirs or estate.
Reverse mortgage is never going to be the full solution to financial needs in retirement. However, when used as part of a comprehensive financial plan, it is going to be an increasingly important part of funding our ever-increasing longevity.
If you are, or someone you know is, looking into reverse mortgage, give me a call – I always love hearing from you.
Laurie Denker MacNaughton[NMLS# 506562]∙ Reverse Mortgage Consultant, President’s Club∙ Middleburg Mortgage, a Division of Middleburg Bank ∙ 20937 Ashburn Road∙ Ashburn, VA 20147∙ 703-477-1183 Direct ∙ LMacNaughton@MiddleburgBank.com
I stood at the paper towel machine waving my hands like a feeble magician trying to conjure paper towels when the thought occurred to me: I frankly can’t remember the last time I heard someone complain about pulling a paper towel from a dispenser. Self-dispensing paper towels solve a problem that was never a problem.
This got me to thinking: how many other fixes fix problems that aren’t problems? And if you can believe it, I actually came up with several – but that’s a different commentary altogether. It’s the corollary that hit home.
Remember functions? Those funky f(x) equations in math class? Basically, a function is a set of inputs and their corresponding outputs. Put another way, a function says if I do this, I get that – one solution for each problem. There is a finite list of outcomes.
Fortunately, most day-to-day issues are not direct functions, and multiple solutions exist for many of life’s problems. But often, the farther one travels into retirement the more limited the solution set becomes. Options become limited and outcome becomes a direct function of input.
In what I consider one of the most encouraging transformations in the history of the reverse mortgage product, I am seeing a regular stream of clients referred from the financial planning community. Seniors seeking informed input are turning to an informed source, namely their financial professional. Of course, I’ll never know how many financial professionals steer their senior clients away from reverse mortgage – but I do know an increasing number tell me they view reverse mortgage as a legitimate financial tool when used in concert with a comprehensive financial plan.
Financial professionals refer clients well before catastrophe strikes, before clients’ means have dwindled, before financial limits are reached – before the financial boat plunges over the cliff of desperation. Planners understand multiple inputs equal a bigger solution set.
I hear the same stories everyone else in the financial industry hears: seniors unable to return to full-time employment. A spouse lost, and the resulting 50% drop in income. A catastrophic event – or a chronic condition that became financially catastrophic. Or, simply, too much life left at the end of the money.
Unlike the motion-detecting paper towel dispenser, reverse mortgage is a real solution to a real problem. When put in place preemptively, before it’s just a crisis management tool, reverse mortgage can be part of a sound retirement plan that maintains independence as long as possible and slows burn-through on other retirement instruments.
If you are – or someone you know is – looking for ways to increase financial options, give me a call. I always love hearing from you.
Laurie Denker 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 · www.middleburgmortgage.com/lauriem
This week there was good news on the economic front: the May 17 Thompson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer confidence posted the strongest gain since July 2007. In addition to this news was the Conference Board’s higher-than-forecast growth projections for the coming three to six months.
Jim O’Sullivan chief economist at High Frequency Economics in Valhalla, New York, says consumers’ gain in confidence “is testimony to underlying growth in spending power.”
The biggest winner was housing prices, which historically have represented the biggest portion of household wealth. The S&P/Case-Shiller index of home values shows housing prices in 20 markets 9.3 percent higher than a year ago.
This is good news for those selling their existing home. However, there is still good news for those looking to purchase: interest rates remain at or near all-time lows, boosting purchasing power when shopping for a new home.
The FHA HECM for Purchase is an outstanding seniors’-only home purchase product for homebuyers aged 62 or older. Since there is never a monthly mortgage payment required, seniors have access to more of their monthly income as they move further into retirement.
If you are aged 62 or older and are looking to purchase a home, give me a call. HECM for Purchase may be the perfect way to get you into your new retirement home.
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 www.middleburgmortgage.com/lauriem
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Today was one of those days – filled with one weird difficulty after another. But late in the afternoon my phone rang. It was Lisa Thomas, inviting me to her grandmother’s 88th birthday party.
It has been a couple years since I have thought deeply about what came to be called The Thomas Project. But hearing Lisa’s voice made me track down the piece that originally ran in a Loudoun County publication. The intervening years have made the story seem even more remarkable than it did at the time.
In 1952 when Ed Thomas and his bride Virginia bought a home on the outskirts of Leesburg they were young, full of expectation, and looking forward to life together.
It was in this small wooden home that Ed and Virginia raised their children, played with their grandchildren, and experienced the joys and hardships that make up the fabric of life.
But by 2009, both Ed, now ill with cancer, and Virginia, suffering from diabetes, had had extensive medical procedures and were hospitalized. They wanted nothing more, however, than to live out their days in the home they had shared for more than fifty years.
The home, however, was now uninhabitable: the toilet had partially fallen through the floorboards, an exterior bearing wall had major damage, the chimney had collapsed, there was no central heating, and the front steps had rotted and fallen off the porch. Both the home and yard were filled with decades’ worth of cast-offs belonging to extended family. Restoring the home to a livable condition was beyond their reach.
Beyond their reach, that is, until the Thomases’ granddaughter, Lisa Thomas, contacted Laurie MacNaughton, reverse mortgage specialist with Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. MacNaughton, after fruitless calls to multiple local organizations, contacted Round Hill United Methodist Church of Round Hill, Virginia, which counts several contractors among its members. Professionals from the congregation inspected the home and agreed to take on the project.
“Our goal, plain and simple, was to repair the Thomases’ home to habitable condition. They spent their entire married life there, and understandably they want to spend their final days together in their home. There are those of us in the Leesburg area with the professional skills necessary to carry out this project, and the determination to make it happen,” says Steve Simons, area manager of Handyman Matters.
Manpower for the ground-up renovation was provided by professionals and volunteers from Round Hill United Methodist Church and the local community. The Home Depot in Leesburg supplied building materials, and McCrea Heating and Air provided an HVAC unit. Thousands of man-hours over the course of more than two years, and overseen by Handyman Matters’ Simons, went into the reconstruction.
“I am so overwhelmed and blessed that there are actually people in this world willing to help,” says Lisa Thomas, granddaughter of Ed and Virginia. “For a year I tried to help my grandparents get back into their home, but I didn’t have the resources to make it happen. All my grandparents wanted was to be together again. Round Hill [Methodist Church] has done a wonderful thing. Steve [Simons] has been amazing. And none of this could have happened without Laurie [MacNaughton]. Honestly, I have to keep pinching myself to be sure is really happening.”
“This entire journey has been one of a church’s and a community’s generosity, love, and remarkable perseverance,” says MacNaughton. “I think of it as ‘NIMBY’ in reverse. This community came together and said, ‘We simply are not going to know about this kind of suffering in our own backyard and just turn our back. As long as we have the ability to remedy this, we are putting our hand to the plow.’ I only wish Mr. Thomas had lived to see this day.”
The Thomas home is now fully complete, and has all the charm associated with a grandmother’s cottage. It has been outfitted with handicapped-accessible amenities, including a roll-in shower, transfer toilet, wide doorways, and a specially designed kitchen.
On September 28th the extended Thomas family, along with members of Round Hill Methodist Church and the community, will welcome Virginia Thomas home with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and celebration.
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