Did you hear the one about the realtor?

Laurie MacNaughton

It’s not that I was unaware of the fact realtors have a hard job – after all, I dragged my own realtor around for months, six months to be precise, before finding exactly what I was after. But to be honest, it was not until I changed careers and became a lender that I came to truly understand the caliber of our Loudoun area realtors, the skill set necessary to meet homebuyers’ needs, the adaptability it takes to function in our ever-changing housing market, and the daunting amount of knowledge required of today’s realtors.

But mostly I did not know of the unsung acts of selflessness, the dedication to community service, or the deeds of sheer human kindness regularly displayed by our realtors.

By way of background, I am a lender – a reverse mortgage lender. This means all my clients are aged 62 or better. The vast majority of my clients use reverse mortgage for long-range planning purposes in what is called a “reserve reverse.” These clients tend to be younger, healthier, still employed, highly educated, and working with a financial planner – or they’re purchasing a retirement home using a reverse for purchase loan.

But as a reverse mortgage lender it also means a certain percentage of my clients are advanced elderly. Some have very specialized needs and some are working with major life changes: loss of a spouse, major health issues, financial challenges. For many of these clients a reverse mortgage is nothing short of a miracle. And most of these clients are referred to me by realtors.

They are referred by realtors who could have seen a need but moved on without getting involved. Realtors who could have concluded there was no paycheck to be had in helping a senior refinance out of a bad situation. Realtors who could have been unwilling to make that call, go that extra mile, lend that listening ear, extend that helping hand.

So what, exactly, I am talking about?

Early in January I received a call from a realtor working on a potential listing. The older, self-employed homeowner was still feeling the effects of a struggling construction sector, and had also run into some health challenges. He deeply wanted to stay near doctors, adult children, and the community where he had lived his entire life. However, he knew of few choices but to sell: his upper-valued home held much of his net worth, and there were medical debts to pay.

The realtor could have simply tabulated the potential commission, listed the home, and ignored the homeowner’s other concerns. But he didn’t – he recommended that his potential client refinance using a reverse mortgage.

In another instance a realtor visited me at my office. Her homebuyer had a relentless, degenerative disease and needed to get into single-level living, but had been turned down for “forward” financing – a sadly common situation for retirees. A few days later when I met in person with the homebuyer in her current 5-story home, the realtor had stayed an extra hour in order to spare the homeowner a trip down the stairs to answer the door. Small stuff? Maybe. But it wasn’t small stuff for that homeowner.

And, I should mention, that frail homeowner is now safe, sound, and secure in a beautiful new home due to the realtor’s familiarity with FHA reverse for purchase.

I see realtors spend untold hours meeting needs outside the scope of their clients’ home purchase. I have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with realtors on home rehabs; I have watched as year after year realtors collect winter coats, food for food banks, blankets for needy families. I have seen drives for shoes and backpacks, school supplies and household supplies, disaster relief and emergency-housing relief. They give and they give and they give – but I don’t often hear them receiving due credit.

I’m not naïve: I know there are bad realtors, just as I know there are bad members of any other profession. However, unlike many professionals, realtors’ acts of selflessness seem to go unnoticed.

So to the realtors of our community I say this: thank you for your unflagging efforts to meet needs as you encounter them, to fight for local housing issues, and to serve our community in so very many ways.

Laurie

Laurie MacNaughton [506562] 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

 

Weekly Scenario: What Happens to the Home When we Move?

Scenario:

My wife and I want to work until we’re both 70, and then move to North Carolina. If we do a reverse mortgage now, what happens to the home when we move?

Answer:

Let’s put aside the concept of reverse mortgage for a moment and just think about a traditional mortgage, also called a “forward” mortgage.

What happens with a forward mortgage when you sell your home?

We all know the answer: your home sells, and when you go to settlement the forward mortgage is paid in full, and you pocket the difference between the sales price and the amount due on the mortgage.

With a reverse mortgage the formula is the same, and looks like this:

Sales Price of the Home – What’s Due on the Loan = What You Pocket

When you meet with your reverse mortgage specialist, one of the mandatory disclosures will be an amortization schedule showing approximately how much you can expect to realize from the sale of your home in any given year.

Just as with a forward mortgage, the sales price of the home will be a major factor in how much you pocket from the sale.

As a side note, when it’s time to buy your new home you can purchase it using a Reverse for Purchase loan, also called a HECM for Purchase. You will make a down payment of approximately 50% of the purchase price, and the Reverse for Purchase loan will make up the difference.

With HECM for Purchase you never have a monthly mortgage payment, which frees up your monthly income for other purposes. It also allows you to retain more cash from the sale of your previous home.

If you have questions either about a reverse mortgage on the home you’re in, or questions about HECM for Purchase, give me a call. I always love hearing from you.

Laurie

Laurie MacNaughton [NMLS# 506562] is freelance writer and Reverse Mortgage Consultant with Middleburg Mortgage. She can be reached at 703-477-1183, Direct, or at Laurie@MiddleburgReverse.com
 

Laurie MacNaughton ∙ Reverse Mortgage Consultant, President’s Club ∙ Middleburg Mortgage ∙ 8190 Stonewall Shops Square ∙ Gainesville, VA ∙ 703-477-1183 Direct ∙ Laurie@MiddleburgReverse.com www.MiddleburgReverseLady.com

 

 

 

Don’t Tell Me You Missed National Nursing Home Week?

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.

Anyone surprised?

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:

  • Are homeowners able to take care of daily needs – or is in-home care required?
  • Are there available community resources, such as day centers, medical facilities, recreation, and transportation?
  • Do homeowners have family, friends, neighbors, or a faith community who can be involved in their care?

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

 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

Visit my informational blog at:  MiddleburgReverseLady.com

Planners who Plan, Fixes that Fix – and Real Solutions for Real Life

Solutions Looking for a Problem

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.

Finite choices

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.

Larger solution sets

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.

Real solutions for real life

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

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

Visit my Informational Blog at https://middleburgreverselady.wordpress.com/

Good time to Buy? Oh Yeah

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.”

Home Prices

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.

Purchase Your Retirement 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

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

Visit my Informational Blog at https://middleburgreverselady.wordpress.com/

The Incredible Journey Revisited

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.

Loudoun County Area Volunteers Assist Elderly Couple

September 2011

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.

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

Visit my Informational Blog at https://middleburgreverselady.wordpress.com/

Retirement Advice for the Gentler Sex

I like to ask questions, and one of my favorite is, “If you’re a baby boomer, what is your life expectancy?” The most common answer? 78.

Reality is, however, that one in three Americans live to at least 85, and most of these are women. So, as a woman, if your financial plans don’t include at least a decade of leeway the later retirement years can be tricky.

Below is a list of some of the best advice I have compiled regarding retirement.

  1. Continue working part-time during retirement. A wealth manager friend of mine likes to say, “Retirement is a journey, not a destination,” and increasingly seniors seem to assume this will be the case. In fact, according to a recent Pew Research study 3 out of 5 seniors plan to work at least part-time for as long as they can in order to delay a draw-down of savings.
  2. Continue to save. For most people, it’s unrealistic to save enough during the peak earning years to amass a nest egg large enough to carry them through retirement. However, even if you work part-time, put some of those earnings aside. It can make a huge difference.
  3. Don’t assume moving to a location with low housing prices makes your retirement savings go farther. While it may be true that cheap housing translates into a lower cost of living, that is not a given. Several states with low housing costs have high sales tax and high homeowners insurance. Savings from low housing prices can quickly be eaten up by high costs elsewhere.
  4. Lower taxes in retirement? Be careful here. You may very well be in a lower tax bracket once you retire, but as a percentage of income your taxes are likely to be greater. Furthermore, once retired you are likely to lose certain deductions and exemptions. So when planning, be realistic in calculating your tax burden.
  5. Don’t assume long-term care will come to the rescue. Here’s a fact I only recently became aware of: according to data available from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, many long-term insurance plans only pay out for two to five years. For this reason it is very important to plan a many-pronged approach to long-term care. One misconception I hear frequently is that Medicare or Medicaid will pay for nursing home or in-home care. The issues surrounding government-sponsored care is so complex that there are attorneys who specialize just in these matters. An uninformed – or misinformed – spend-down can have very bad consequences, so be sure to seek counsel before spending down assets in order to qualify for benefits.
  6. I love my job and will work to my dying day. Frankly, I feel the same way. However, barring acquisition of a crystal ball, you just can’t count on working forever as part of your retirement strategy.
  7. Look into reverse mortgage. According to a recent report by the Boston College Center for Retirement Research, adding funds from a reverse mortgage significantly boosts financial wellness in retirement.

Reverse mortgage was never intended to be a replacement for a sound financial retirement plan. However, it can play an important role in augmenting what is already in place, and slow the burn-through rate on other retirement instruments.

Give me a call and let’s talk.

Laurie

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

Visit my Informational Blog at https://middleburgreverselady.wordpress.com/