April 15, 1912, while on its maiden voyage, the RMS Titanic struck an iceberg and sank within three hours. The ship carried far too few lifeboats, and 1,502 passengers and crew died. Harland and Wolff, who hired the naval architect, was not available for comment for this blogpost.
May 6, 1937, German airship Hindenburg caught fire, exploded, and plunged to the ground at Lakehurst Naval Air Station. Thirty-six people died. The German dirigible had not been designed to use hydrogen; rather, the Nazi government switched to the alternative gas when helium was not available. Neither the Hindenburg’s pilot nor its designer was available for comment for this piece.
Let’s add another historical tragedy:
According to a July 19, 2013 Washington Post article by Kenneth R. Harney, in 1997 Sarah C. Hoge took out a proprietary reverse mortgage. This private-label mortgage was not the FHA-insured reverse mortgage overwhelming represented by today’s reverse mortgages. The terms of Ms. Hoge’s mortgage were apparently horrendous, and her estate is still seeking resolution of issues caused by this terribly-designed product.
Early private-label, non FHA-insured reverse mortgages were filled with structural peril and some left true devastation in their wake; few reasonable minds differ on this point.
The Post’s Mr. Harney, however, appears either remarkably biased against today’s reverse mortgages, or woefully uninformed on their basic tenets, as evidenced by his statement, “Reverse mortgages…can be…potentially costly for [elderly borrowers’] heirs.” I respectfully refer him to the FHA HECM website http://www.hud.gov/, specifically section 6 which states, “No debt is passed along to the estate or heirs.”
Mr. Harney, if you are seeking a crusade, let me recommend you turn your sites toward the proliferation of hard-money lenders, the financial source some seniors seek out when scared away from the FHA-insured reverse mortgage – by articles such as yours, as self-reported by seniors themselves. This scaremongering is unbefitting a contributor to a reputable publication, and is a tragedy in its own right.
The historical movement of tragedy is regulation, redesign, redress and remediation – whether we’re speaking on topics of engineering, medical techniques, political systems – or financial products. As it has matured into the mainstream of financial products, reverse mortgage has gone through these selfsame stages, and has come out far better for it. I believe I am not alone in wishing journalism would go through its own maturation process, moving from sensationalistic pieces to well-researched reporting.
The FHA-insured 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 Americans’ ever-increasing longevity. Irresponsible or ill-informed reporting does no one any favors – not seniors, not their heirs, and not an esteemed publication.
Laurie MacNaughton [NMLS# 506562] · Reverse Mortgage Consultant · 20937 Ashburn Road, Suite 115 · Ashburn, Virginia 20147 · 703-477-1183 Direct · LMacNaughton@MiddleburgReverseLady.com
Visit my Informational Blog at https://middleburgreverselady.wordpress.com/