Archive for March, 2013

Reverse Mortgage – Things to think over

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Reverse Mortgage – Things to think over

In the Feb/Mar issue of Renaissance Magazine, NJFA featured an article about Reverse Mortgages. You can see the article (and the whole magazine) at www.njfoundationforaging.org/ren.html 

In the article, NJFA Board Member, Robert Jaworski, who is also an Attorney at Reed Smith in Princeton, covers all the bases for those considering a Reverse mortgage. As with any decision, there are many things to consider when determining if this is right for you.

One issue that has recently come to our attention via a few news articles has to do with married couples. If both parties are not listed on the document there can be difficulty when the person who did sign passes away. It is also important to note that both parties must be 62 or older to be listed on the reverse mortgage documents.

In one such story in the Washington Post recently, a woman in her 90’s was facing foreclosure because of this very issue. Even though both she and her husband were listed on the deed to the home, only her husband’s name and signature appear on the reverse mortgage documents.

It is clear that upon the death of the person who took out the reverse mortgage loan, the debt must be paid. However, the spouse living in the home should be spared that expense. But according to HUD, who oversees the programs, this is not the case if the spouses name does not appear on the documents.

But under a controversial policy that is drawing national scrutiny and at least one major lawsuit, HUD — the agency that runs the reverse mortgage program — now insists that when a spouse dies, and the surviving spouse’s name is not on the loan documents, the full mortgage balance becomes due and payable. If a relative or the surviving spouse cannot purchase the house and pay off the debt, the loan may be subject to a foreclosure sale. HUD’s reverse mortgage program, run through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), has been big business. There were 582,000 loans outstanding nationwide as of November 2011, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which issued a critical evaluation of the program last year. Reverse mortgages are restricted to seniors 62 years or older. The program allows homeowners to tap into equity and pull out money for use in their retirement years. As long as they pay their property taxes and hazard insurance, generally they don’t have to repay any of the money until they move out, die or sell the house.

The policy change on surviving spouses that has snagged a few of the people we’ve read about was not adopted until late 2008, That change has been challenged in a federal lawsuit filed by AARP, the seniors advocacy group. On behalf of two widows and one widower who were threatened with foreclosure, AARP charged that HUD disregarded clear statutory language that allows surviving spouses to remain in their homes even if their name is not on the documents. In an appellate court ruling last month, U.S. Circuit Judge Laurence H. Silberman said that the court was “somewhat puzzled as to how HUD can justify a regulation that seems contrary to the governing statute.”

This post is not intended to scare anyone or to suggest that a reverse mortgage is not a good option for some people, it is merely another fact to consider when looking into a reverse mortgage.

Be sure to question your broker and consider all parties living in the home before signing on the dotted line.

Here are some resources to answer any of your questions:

http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0192-reverse-mortgages;

http://www.aarp.org/money/credit-loans-debt/reverse_mortgages/;

  • The National Council on Aging

http://www.ncoa.org/calendar-of-events/webinars/reverse-mortgage-use-your.html or (800) 510-0301.                                                

  • NovaDebt

http://www.novadebt.org/housing_counseling.taf or 1-866-472-4557

 And here is a link to the article referenced :

http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20130201/entlife/702019968/