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Slow Down Before Agreeing to a Reverse Mortgage

Making money decisions that work for you

By Consumer Bob
|  Wednesday, Oct 17, 2012  |  Updated 9:14 PM PDT
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The popularity of reverse mortgages is a concern to consumer advocates who say people should be cautious when making such a big financial decision.

The popularity of reverse mortgages is a concern to consumer advocates who say people should be cautious when making such a big financial decision.

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Baby boomers are facing retirement and that could mean big business for people selling reverse mortgages. 

The reverse mortgage allows home owners who are 62 and older to borrow money against the value of their homes. And they don't have to pay back the loan until they either move out or pass away.

Leo Gill is a retired Navy Captain who lives in San Diego. He says the number of people offering reverse mortgages seem to be picking up.

"They are giving it all the pluses but really don't tell you about the other things," said Gill, "so you really have to look at that and do your homework."

Paul Greenwood agrees. Greenwood is the head of the Elder Abuse Unit for the San Diego District Attorney's office.

"There is no deadline for this, you can take your time," said the Deputy District Attorney Greenwood. "A reverse mortgage is going to have a permanent impact for the rest of your life so do it carefully."

Craig Sewing is a radio host for the Real Estate Radio Network. He says while homeowners need to be careful, it is a powerful tool for people struggling with their finances.

"You've built equity in your home," said Sewing, "these are very good things."

Sewing says before deciding on a reverse mortgage it would be important to talk to a trusted advisor including friends, family members or an attorney.

"It can be a good security blanket, it can be a good financial instrument," said Sewing, but "it's not for everybody."

Money from the reverse mortgage comes out of the equity of the home. It has to be paid back at the end of the mortgage which means less money available to pass on to family. It's also important to note that while it stops mortgage payments, a homeowner is still responsible for paying their insurance and taxes.

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