Reverse Mortgages Begin Trek to Mainstream
Real Estate Finance Today (11/20/00) Vol. 17, No. 45 p.13; Sorohan, Mike

Some experts see growing possibilities with reverse mortgages. Jeff Taylor, chairman of the MBA Reverse Mortgage Advisory Group, is beginning to see a decline in the traditional resistance to these financing products, also known as home equity conversion mortgages, or HECMs. In fact, he describes the market potential for them as "mind-boggling." A total of 38 million seniors were age 65 or older last year, Taylor cites; and 15.4 million of those were debt-free single-family, or condominium homeowners. Estimates show that as much as 8 percent of this demographic, or about 1.3 million seniors, would consider taking out a reverse mortgage. Recently, Texas emerged as a potentially enormous market, with 2.7 million people over the age of 60. Moreover, changes to HECM rules announced by HUD on Nov. 6 are designed to trigger more reverse mortgage business. Taylor believes the key to accessing these markets is through education. As predatory lending becomes more prevalent, and homeowners become educated about it, borrowers will recognize several benefits of reverse mortgages. The safeguards involved in reverse loans make seniors far less susceptible to abusive lending. The biggest obstacle to widespread use of reverse mortgages has been the perception that they reduce inheritances. Taylor explains that in today's economy, people are more self-sufficient and are not relying upon inheritance money. Children should explain to their parents that they want them to take advantage of their hard work. Taylor stresses that third-party counseling will show that reverse mortgages are retirement-planning tools and not the mark of a dire financial situation.

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