Reverse Mortgages Backfiring on Some Seniors

June 4, 2013
CNBC.com  
mortgage lending news

Financial experts say reverse mortgages, which allow senior homeowners to tap their equity through regular payouts or a lump sum, are a valuable resource when used judiciously. But with today's older borrowers boasting less equity, fewer savings, and more debt, the product in many cases is contributing to financial distress rather than relieving it. "This was originally contemplated as something you could draw money from over a long period of time, as a way of supplementing your income or providing income when you had not others," explains David Certner of AARP. "Now a lot of people are looking to reverse mortgages as a quick fix." That mentality is reflected in delinquency rates for the product -- which, at about 9.5 percent of 775,000 reverse mortgages outstanding, eclipses the rate for traditional home loans. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is considering new rules, possibly including tougher lender oversight and greater transparency for borrowers, to protect seniors. "It's a balancing issue, you want to make sure that people have access to credit or the help they need ... but you also want to make sure that one, people [are] not getting reverse mortgage when it's not the right product for them and two that when they are getting the product they are getting the best one that's available to them," Certner says.
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