Harland, Hindenburg…and Harney

Laurie MacNaughton

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

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/

So What is the “Fiscal Cliff,” Anyway?

You’re wondering what the Fiscal Cliff is all about? Here are the main issues:

In 2013, tax cuts for individuals will expire, along with long-standing tax breaks for businesses. Taxes for President Obama’s health care law will kick in, as will spending cuts enacted by Congress as part of the debt-ceiling deal. Long-term jobless benefits will also expire.

So What?

Here’s what: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that if all these items occur, an estimated $600 billion will disappear from the U.S. economy in 2013, and push the country into a double-dip recession. Given that Europe is officially in a recession for the second time in four years, if our leaders don’t act now our economy is going to fall headlong over the same cliff.

And keep your head on a swivel regarding inflation. While the latest Producer Price Index and Consumer Price Index reports show inflation remained tame at the wholesale and consumer levels in October, inflation can quickly get out of hand.

What does this mean for home loan rates?

Inflation is the arch enemy of mortgage rates. However, home loan rates should continue to benefit from the uncertainty in Europe. This is because investors will likely continue to see our bond market – including mortgage bonds – as a safe haven for their money. But inflation is a very real threat to home loan rates: if inflation hits, look for mortgage rates to go up.

The bottom line is this:

Home loan rates remain near historic lows, making now the best time ever to talk with the seniors in your life about extinguishing their “forward” mortgage with a HECM Refinance. Also, there has never been a better time to use a HECM for Purchase to get into a home appropriate for aging in place. It’s hard to say how much longer rates will stay this low.

Call me with questions you or your clients might have – I always love hearing from you.

Laurie

Laurie Denker 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/

You Can’t BUY a Home With A Reverse Mortgage…You Dummy

Every once in a while something so odd happens that you spend the next few days…or weeks…or MONTHS – if it’s odd enough – processing the details.

Exactly a year ago I was in the middle of a complex HECM for Purchase transaction. It involved a knotty situation in which a builder had declared bankruptcy before completing construction on a condo, and another builder had finished the project. However, the new guy had never put some of the completed phases to record. I will sum up the details of the situation simply by saying Uncle Sam does not smile upon this business model.

After a couple weeks mucking about for resolution utilizing the obvious channels, such as the homeowners association attorney – whose job description, incidentally, does include this type of thing – I decided to go to the top of the food chain and contact my client’s US Congressman.

Imagine my surprise when I received a mini-lecture from a congressional aide, who stated with great conviction, “You can’t BUY a home with a reverse mortgage. Reverse mortgage is a refi product. So put that in your pipe and smoke it, you dumb Reverse Mortgage Specialist.”

Ok, so maybe he didn’t say this last part. But it was implied.

Well, well, well, Mr. Aide, thank you for THAT helpful input.

So, is that to say you CAN you buy a home with a reverse mortgage?

In a word, yes!

So how does Reverse for Purchase – also known as HECM for Purchase – work? And why do so few people know about it?

The concept of HECM for Purchase could not be more straightforward: the home buyer provides a down payment, the size of which is determined by the home buyer’s age. The HECM loan provides the rest.

That’s it. End of story. You are in your home for the rest of your life – or as long as you want to live in the home as your primary residence – and never make a monthly mortgage payment.

This smells fishy. How can I live in a home and not make payments?

Answer: Not making payments is very different from saying the loan is never repaid. The loan is always repaid – it’s just that you don’t repay it. When you are finished with the home, the home itself repays the debt.

But when is the loan repaid?

Answer: The loan is repaid when the last person on title moves, sells, or dies. In other words, the loan is repaid BY THE HOME once the senior no longer needs the home.

But where does the money come from to repay the loan?

Answer: The home is either sold, and the proceeds from the sale repay the loan, or the family secures new financing and buys the home.

But what if the home has gone down in value and the proceeds from the sale can’t repay the loan?

Answer: The home repays what it can. Any shortfall is made up by the mandatory Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP).

But what if I want to leave the house to the kids?

Answer: You can still leave the house to the kids: it’s still your house. The kids will need to: 1) line up their own financing, and buy the home, or 2) sell the house. However, they would have to do this anyway if you had a “forward” mortgage…AND they would have to make your mortgage payment every month after you were gone, or risk losing the house.

How long can I stay in my home?

Answer: As long as you want to. As long as you pay your property taxes, keep current on your homeowner’s insurance, and maintain the home, you never have to move. You can, however, move whenever you wish.

Ok, So Let’s Be Blunt: If this program is so great, why don’t more people know about it?

Answer: First, it has not been around all that long: FHA rolled it out just over three years ago. Second, despite a lot of money spent on financial education for seniors, there are still far too many people – like the congressional aide mentioned above – who are very bold in speaking very forcefully about topics they know very little about. And that is very unfortunate.

If you or someone you know needs to move into a home better suited to aging in place, the FHA-insured HECM for Purchase may very well make this possible.

I love answering questions about the financial health and the long-term well-being of our seniors. Give me a call – I always love hearing from you.

Laurie

Laurie Denker 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/

My Retirement Goal? Get Old, Get Sick, and Move Out of my Home

How many times has this happened to you: you ask someone their goals for retirement and they say, “Get old, get sick, move out of my home, and die in a care facility”?

Can I hazard a guess as to the answer?

New Numbers, No Surprises

In a new study entitled United States of Aging, jointly sponsored by National Council on Aging, USA Today, Florida Public Television, and United Healthcare, 2,250 Americans aged 60 and older were queried on a variety of aging-related issues.

Turns out, a whopping 90% of respondents say they wish to age in place. And nearly 3 in 4, or 74%, plan to make adaptive changes to their home in order to make possible aging in place. ⁱ

I just have to ask: Does this surprise anyone?

Senior Strategies, Booming Business

Russell Glickman, Washington, D.C. area universal design specialist and winner of the National Association of Remodeling “National Remodeler of the Year” award, says:

I am seeing definite trends in remodeling. As clients make design changes they’re asking more about long-term, universal design, such as first-floor bedroom suites. Also, lot of Baby Boomers are asking about their parents. They’re not really focused on themselves yet, but they’re planning to move their parents into the home. Then later, when they are at that point, they’ll modify the space for themselves.

With many Americans projected to live well into their 90’s, staying in the home as long as possible is often the most significant cost-containment strategy available.

But containing costs is only half the equation. More available money is the other half.

Alicia Munnell, director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, says, “I see a future where people in their 60s are having dinner with friends and the conversation leads to: ‘Where are you getting your reverse mortgage?’ It will be the norm. It is going to take a while, but we will have a cohort of people entering retirement who only have $100,000 in their 401(k) plans.”ⁱⁱ

New Normal = “Old” Normal

We all are used to hearing the term “the new normal.” Truth is, “old” is the new normal, and we’re all – or soon will be – facing issues of aging.

And as we age, hopefully with grace, in dignity, and with financial soundness, the FHA Reverse Mortgage is likely to play a central role in helping many Americans achieve these goals.

Give me a call with your questions. I always love hearing from you.

Laurie

Laurie Denker 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/

ⁱhttp://www.ncoa.org/assets/files/pdf/united-states-of-aging/2012-survey/8-2-12-United-States-of-Aging-Full-Findings-FINAL.pdf
ⁱⁱ(http://reversemortgagedaily.com/2012/08/15)

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/