This "worksite" aims to give you the knowhow to figure out which life insurance, investment and annuity products will help you retire securely and comfortably.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Book Review: “The Complete Guide to Reverse Mortgages,” by Tammy Kramer and Tyler Kraemer

“The Complete Guide to Reverse Mortgages,” by Tammy Kramer and Tyler Kraemer (Adams Media, 2007)
by Richard F. O'Boyle, Jr., LUTCF, MBA
"The Insider's Guide to Retirement and Insurance Planning"

Tammy and Tyler Kraemer do professional advisors and consumers a valuable service by demystifying reverse mortgages. The sale of reverse mortgages has boomed in the past 20 years as house-rich/cash-poor retirees seek to tap into their home equity to fund their golden years. “The Complete Guide to Reverse Mortgages” details and explains the many benefits and pitfalls of these complex and poorly understood financial products. Every professional advisor should read this book, along with every consumer seriously considering one.

Over the last three or four years I have seen a surge in published articles (good and bad) on reverse mortgages. This is mainly because our retirement investments have failed to produce the expected pile of money to live off of. Up until 2008 (the year after this book was published) our home values had increased beyond rationally expected levels. The perfect storm of crashing investment accounts, crimped budgets and plummeting home equity values makes the consideration of a reverse mortgage even more pertinent.

“The Complete Guide to Reverse Mortgages” is a consumer-friendly volume with useful worksheets and illustrations. If you are a senior considering a reverse mortgage (or adult child of one), take 30 minutes to pencil through the worksheets. Better yet, sit down with a financial advisor or mortgage specialist and do them together. Don’t hesitate to float the idea past intelligent friends, your family attorney or a neighborhood insurance agent. The consumer is well-advised to carefully network to find a reputable reverse mortgage specialist. You may bring any financial advisor along with you to a consultation. By speaking with a variety of advisors, you will be sure to explore the fullest spectrum of options. This is a financial purchase you should be extremely cautious about because it’s a long-term commitment.

Many things have changed in the reverse mortgage market since the 2008 financial meltdown so on February 25, 2011, I spoke with Jim Calimopulos, Reverse Mortgage Sales Manager at Worldwide Capital Mortgage Corp. in Bay Shore, NY.

Mortgage rates and the costs of reverse mortgages in general have increased, and property values have decreased, which means that less money is ultimately put into a consumer’s pocket when they take out a reverse mortgage. The highly publicized failure of IndyMac bank (one of the largest reverse mortgage providers) has fortunately not made a great impact on the availability of these products to consumers since other companies such as Financial Freedom and MetLife continue to be strong players.

Since 2010, the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Home Equity Conversion Mortgage program has sought to lower some costs and provide more options to consumers. As Mr. Calimopulos explained, if a couple is downsizing their home and moving into a new home, they can greatly benefit from the HECM program. For example, if they sell their home for $300,000 and then buy a $250,000 home in a 55+ community, they can still get a reverse mortgage for up to $190,000 on the new property. Ultimately, the couple will have about $110,000 in cash to put aside for use in the coming years.

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