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Is a Reverse Mortgage the Right Choice for You?— AARP Bulletin

A tale of two reverse mortgage borrowers who had two very different outcomes.

AARP Weighs in on the 'New' Reverse Mortgage Math

Lori Trawinski, director of banking and finance at AARP’s Public Policy Institute, declines to call the changes positive or negative, but does admit that higher costs might make the loan less attractive — and new principal limits might mean fewer seniors will qualify.

“If you have an existing forward mortgage, that mortgage needs to be paid off before you can get a reverse,” she says. “So if someone is counting on a certain amount of reverse mortgage proceeds to be able to pay off a forward loan, it could be that with the new principal limit factors, they may not get enough proceeds out of the loan to do that.”

Higher upfront costs might also be a disincentive to consumers, Trawinski says.

“For about three quarters of borrowers, the upfront premium went from 0.5% to 2%, so that’s a significant increase. It may dissuade some borrowers from going forward with the loan,” she says.

Amy Ford, NCOA’s senior director of home equity initiatives and social accountability, agrees that these factors might influence consumer decisions and says the changes highlight the need for effective counseling.

AARP: 76% of Older Adults Want to Age in Place

While the preference to remain at home remains high for older adults, the intensity of that feeling has dropped over the past decade. In 2010, 74% of adults 50 and over said they strongly desired to remain at home; in 2018, that figure fell to 55%. The overall desire to age in place — which includes people who said they “somewhat agree” — dropped from 86% at the start of the decade to 76% this year.

In order to remain at home, half of all adults said they were interested in joining a “village” in their area and are willing to pay for the services it provides. These “villages” typically take the form of community-based non-profits that provide members access to educational, social, and wellness activities. Other “village” services include volunteer drivers to help seniors stay active as they age, as well as referrals to approved local service providers.