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Reverse Mortgages

Reverse Mortgages

Reverse Mortgages Can Boost Retirement Income – Without Eating Your Equity


if you were fighting a war and had a tank…

…would you use it…

 …or would you keep it away from the battle? 

Maybe the rest of your arsenal would be strong enough on its own to win the war?

Now… if you would keep it in reserve for a time…

You’d be slugging out a long war.  

Totally unpleasant.   

Potentially fatal.

The military would call this a tactical error…

The tank is a part of the arsenal and should be deployed as a part of a larger strategy. 

Why am I talking about Tanks and Battles?


It’s just like not using your home in your retirement strategy. 

Home equity is about 2/3rds of Boomers’ assets.

Most Boomers refuse to deploy it in their retirement strategy. 


Most home equity is just “dead money” – kept to the side while we slug it out in the battle to achieve a victorious retirement.

In life I would call that a tactical error…

Common Sense:

You may be thinking:

“My home is the safety boat.

 It’s a sacred investment. Only used as a last resort.” 

You dreamt of living through old age with no mortgage payment.  Tapping the equity might jeopardize that security, right?

Here’s a wild question:

What if you could “re-deploy” some of that equity?

And do it without the fear of making a mortgage payment or reducing your current equity?

And, let’s imagine you could yield an extra 34% in income from your nest egg? 

First though… I’ll tell you a secret…

Even those of us who think we have saved enough probably haven’t.

Let’s look at the numbers.

More than 50% of Boomers have Zero Nest Egg


A study released last year by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) gave more detail than any other source I’ve found about the financial situation of today’s retired population.

Specifically, the GAO provided details on people ages 65 to 74.  

52% of households in this group have absolutely no retirement savings whatsoever.

That’s not to say that they don’t have any assets or income:

  • 77% own their homes
  • 36% have paid off their mortgages
  • 49% have some sort of defined benefit (i.e.. pension plan)
  • Almost all receive some sort of Social Security payment

What about the other 48% who do have savings?

It’s a mixed bag.

The median household among this group has $148,000 saved — enough to provide about $6,000 a year in income to those following the 4% rule.

But they also have a median net worth of almost $600,000.

95% own their homes (and 51% have paid it off), and 58% have some sort of defined benefit plan. And again, the vast majority also collect Social Security.

Here’s the shocker:

Only the top 12% of all retirees in this age rangecan count on a minimum of $16,000 in income each year from their nest eggs.

Now, add in pensions, Social Security and other common sources, and their incomes could easily add up to more than $35,000 per year.

That’s an amount you could manage on if you own your home outright.

Just barely though.

After taxes, insurance, maintenance and day to day living expenses, $35k a year is far less than would make life comfortable.

Let’s break down the source of income for the two groups:

The GAO offered an even clearer visualization as to how where the money’s coming from to allow these groups to afford their respective lifestyles.

The answer: It certainly isn’t coming from their nest eggs…


Social security provides a huge portion of retirement income.

Overall, it provides a whopping 44% of all income for those aged 65 to 74.

Even among those who have built up their nest eggs, that savings provides just 9% of their retirement income.

How to add $12,000 to your current $35,000 income:


You might think that I’m suggesting you take out a reverse mortgage to play the stock market.

That would be stupid.


Playing the stocks is like going to Rick’s American Café and Casino. 

While most of us are being entertained out front the real action is in the back room (and we’re not invited).

The suckers listen to the piano player pay the bills while the exclusive few in the back win in a rigged game… (think Captain Louis Renault).

I like simple solutions…

I don’t know about you…

… but whenever I listen to a certified financial planner they lose me as soon as they start talking about “investment goals”, “tolerance to risk” and returns that are calculated based on being in a “40% tax bracket.”

  1. My investment goals are to make as much money as possible (how do you like them apples?)
  2. I’m 60 years old. My risk tolerance is zero.
  3. I don’t know a single person who pays 40% on their taxes.

These questions are just lame, right?

Who’s going to say that my goal is to have an income of $10,000 per month in my retirement – so don’t show me anything that would result in $15,000???

Or that my risk tolerance is that I have no tolerance so that leaves only government bonds earning 1.2% as an option. 

Real Estate was your best investment years ago and it still is:



Investing in real estate has what Warren Buffet calls “intrinsic value.” That means its value is more than just the thing that you see – it’s also what it does or what it provides. 

People will always need a place to live.

For many of the younger generation buying that living space is now out of reach so they have no choice but to rent.  Providing that rental space can be a great source of passive income as long as it’s done right.

Here are several rules that I follow in my personal investment strategy:

  1. Always target the middle to lower end of the economic scale when thinking about whom to rent your property to. This group will be long term tenants since they will never save enough money to buy a house and usually pay rent on time.
  1. The rule of thumb for purchase price verses monthly rent is a 1% factor. In other words, if a 3 bedroom condo will rent for $1,700 per month you can pay $170,000.  I’ll show you why in the example below. 
  1. Always pay cash. In the example below I’ll show you what my own property is making and will continue making as long as rents stay where they are now.  However, what happens if the economy tanks and I need to lower rent?  Since the property is owned no debt I could slash the rents and wait for the market to come back without the risk of losing the property to foreclosure.  That’s why a reverse mortgage is so important.  It will allow you to turn your current equity into cash without a mortgage payment.  That cash is what is used to purchase the investment property of cash.
  1. Fix everything to new condition when you buy a property and never worry about the usual ongoing service problem that we all hear about. In the example property (which was a total re-hab) everything that could break or cause a problem later was replaced before it was placed on the rental market.  I hate problem calls don’t you?
  1. Hire a good real estate firm to find, screen draw up the lease for your tenant. There is a saying in the legal profession that an attorney who represents themselves in court has a fool for a client.  The same thing can be said for a property owner that leases their own property.  Having a bad tenant can be a nightmare and it’s too easy to be played by a good con artist.  People who lease properties for a living are very good at identifying and screening these cons out.  Don’t skip this step because it will cost you in the long run.

Now let’s take a look at a real example:



This is a property that I own.

As you can see, the total investment was $170,000 resulting in an income stream of just a little over $1000 per month or a 7.1% return on my investment.

I point this out just to show you that I’m not making this stuff up as a hypothetical like most of the other sites that you might look at. 

Instead, I’ll show you the real deal….  

So let’s tie this all together:

At the beginning of this article I suggest that your home can increase your monthly income by 34%. 

Since the average retirement income is about $35,000 per year if you could increase your income to $47,000 that would be a 34% increase in the cash in your pocket.  If you own a home that’s valued at between $300,000 and $350,000 and it’s paid for you could conceivably liberate $170,000 of that equity from a reverse mortgage without adding a mortgage.  

But wait a minute. 

How does this not reduce your equity?

Doesn’t the reverse mortgage reduce the equity in your home because the mortgage is growing? 

Consider that you just added an additional property that will also grow in equity. This will offset the reduction. 

The bottom line is that this scenario can put an additional $1000 per month in your pocket. 

What kind of difference would that make in your retirement life?

reverse mortgage options


Reverse Mortgages

Reverse Mortgage vs. HELOC: Which is better?


HECM-Reverse Mortgages and Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCs) are both liens against your home. 

When I did reverse mortgages I can’t tell you how many times I spoke to a homeowner who told me that “their home was free and clear.” Then I’d find out that there was a $50,000 HELOC lien on it. 

When asked to explain why that wasn’t disclosed the answer was usually, “I thought it was like a credit card and didn’t count against my home’s equity.” 

That reduction in equity usually eliminated their ability to qualify for a reverse mortgage.

Your Friends May Have No Idea What They’re Talking About

(Even professionals like lawyers and accountants…)

should attorneys or accountant friends advise you on a reverse mortgage

Here’s an example:

One time a lawyer called me. 

He was calling on behalf of a friend in a tight spot. He made it clear that he was not representing this friend as his attorney. 

I thought that was strange…

I mean…

What difference did it make?

I finally beat the truth out of him. 

Two years prior he told his friend to do a HELOC instead of a reverse mortgage. 

heloc can adjust

That HELOC had a monthly payment. The payment was manageable at first.

However, most HELOCs have variable interest rates. That means the payment can go up.

The payment had risen in this case and was now gobbling up a large chunk of the friend’s budget. 

It was so bad that the friend was now close to losing his home. 

The attorney was frantic –  the action taken was on his advice so he felt deeply responsible.

There was enough equity left (luckily) that we were able to take out the HELOC with the proceeds from a reverse mortgage and eliminate the payments. 

Our homeowner still lives in that home today. 

When is a HELOC better than a Reverse Mortgage Line of credit?

is hecm better than a heloc

In total fairness…

I really don’t like HELOC’s because I think they’re dangerous. 

Before I get to that however, let me first give you a list of reasons that one informative website lists for doing a HELOC rather than opting for a reverse mortgage.

Here’s the list:

  • For shorter term loans of less than 5 years, HELOCs are more simple with lower associated costs and faster turnaround times. Reverse mortgages have higher closing costs. Costs with a HELOC are low upfront and accumulate over the life of the loan.
  • As assurance against unforeseen emergencies.  While reverse mortgages can be taken as a line of credit, HELOCs are significantly less expensive to do so.
  • If the future is uncertain and the senior has possible large life changes within a few years, HELOCs can offer greater flexibility than a reverse mortgage.
  • With mixed age couples; to prevent a reverse mortgage from coming due when one spouse passes away, couples will include both partners as borrowers. This means that both borrowers must be older than 62. Married couples that have large age differences might be in a situation where one spouse is old enough and the other is not. A HELOC may provide a short term solution until the younger of the spouses reaches the age of 62.
  • The amount of money a senior can borrow in a reverse mortgage is calculated on many factors including the age of the youngest borrower. For borrowers near the minimum age of 62 or for couples with large age differences, the amount that can be borrowed may be too low due to younger age of one spouse. Therefore HELOCs may provide additional borrowing power to a couple.
  • For some tax reasons with a HELOC, monthly interest payments are tax deductible in the year they are paid. With a reverse mortgage interest is not paid until the house is sold or the owner passes away. For some seniors, usually those with higher incomes, it may be better financially to have the loan’s interest payments deducted annually.

Now, let’s look at the other side…

home equity can get you in trouble

Bad things happen

– Remember the crash of 2008?

…or 2000?

…or 1989?

…or 1978?

… or (well, you get the idea, right?)

If you’re old enough to get a reverse mortgage, you’re old enough to know the economy seems to tank once every 10 years or so.

The truth is, most of the worst losses come from investors who don’t have the staying power (liquid funds) to last through the turnaround.

Now, imagine how things would change if those investors had a reserve line of credit so they wouldn’t have to sell at a loss.

I know what you’re thinking…

Isn’t that what a HELOC is for?


Back in 2008, many banks froze or revoked homeowner’s credit lines. Ironically, that was when they needed them the most.

Now… that wouldn’t happen with a reverse mortgage, because once the line of credit is granted it is guaranteed by the government.

A Reverse Mortgage Line of Credit Has No Payments

reverse mortgage payments

Now, considering 2008 again, consider being one of the “lucky ones.”

That means your HELOC stayed in place during the downturn.

It also means that drawing against that credit results in higher monthly payments.

Those payments would be against a house that is likely underwater.

Wouldn’t it be better to have a reverse mortgage line of credit (with no payments?)



If you don’t pay off the HELOC or can no longer afford the monthly payments your home can be foreclosed.

Here’s the truth:

Most people use a line of credit to cover surprises. We also expect to pay it off relatively quickly.

That’s also the reason most people have credit cards.

A funny thing though…

A huge percentage of Americans end up carrying a balance on their credit cards.

If that’s sounds like you, you can probably also expect to be carrying a balance on a home equity line.

Did you know that most HELOC’s have a time limit? After that they become “fully amortizing” loans.

This means your minimum payment can skyrocket overnight.

Sounds pretty dangerous, right?


Even worse:

Most HELOCs have no interest rate cap. That means that if interest rates go up, so does your payment.

Remember, that’s not a risk with a reverse mortgage. Since reverse mortgages do not have any payment requirement, rising rates are not a problem.

Also, since reverse mortgages are regulated by HUD, even the variable programs have strict limits on how often and by how much interest rates can be adjusted.

Your Available line of credit grows each year with a HECM

One last (but huge) advantage of a HECM credit line is that your borrowing power isn’t fixed.

Your available credit rises every year automatically. The amount the credit line goes up by is about the same as the interest rate.

For example… imagine a HECM saver for $131,029. If mortgage rates plus insurance stay at today’s 4.07 percent rate, the limit would rise to $196,710 in ten years.

In fact, the higher rates go, the more you can borrow.


The whole point is that smart planning can help you weather inevitable downturns.

This is why you might consider a reverse mortgage line of credit…

…even if you’re only 62…

…and even if you don’t need the money right now.

In fact, my opinion is that you should especially consider it before you actually need the money.

Remember… interest rates will never be lower than they are right now. The lower the rates… the more you can qualify for with a reverse mortgage.

If interest rates rise… you won’t be able to borrow nearly as much.


A reverse mortgage line of credit is virtually always better than a home equity line of credit.

If you’re over 62 and are considering home equity options, you should strongly consider the HECM line of credit.

reverse mortgage options



Reverse Mortgages

5 Ways to Supplement Your Income in (Un) retirement


Are you among this exulted group? 

Outrageously Cushy Government Pensions…

get income after 65

(“California has one of the worst pension crises in the country—the state’s pension funds are about $500 billion in the red, and over 5,000 retired teachers and administrators receive pensions in excess of $100,000. But that’s chump change compared to one Santa Clara County’s fire chief who retired at the end of last year, was kept on as a consultant beginning in January—that means that for six months he not only took home an impressive consultant salary ($236,691), but a $200,000 yearly pension to boot.”) 

 See the rest of the article at:

If you’re in this group congratulations….


… what about those of us in the real world?

Baby Boomers don’t plan to retire…

Let’s face it…

… unless you had a job in the public sector with an annual pension, you missed the gravy train. 

(That train left the station 20 to 30 years ago and you weren’t on it…)


If you’re among the two thirds of Baby-Boomers that worked in the private sector without a pension and counted on a 401-K to fund your retirement you probably came up short.

That means you’re in the “Un-Retirement” category. 

What we Boomers Earn and Spend:

Average Household Spending by Age Range



2007 CE Data

2009 CE Data









Persons in Consumer Unit








Income (pre-tax)*








Total Spending**








Food + Alcohol








Housing + Related
















































Misc. Other








* Income does not include retiree withdrawals from personal savings.
** Contributions to Social Security and pensions, which were included in the CE average annual expenditure total, have been removed.








By the time we turn 65 most of us are earning just $47,286 per year before taxes and after taxes (at a 20% tax rate) are netting about $37,829. 

Here’s the problem:

Spending $40,685 per year means  we’re going in the hole by $2,856 each year. 

debt after 65

So… how does that shortfall get made up? 

The answer is simple:

Either we draw down from our savings eroding the principle…

… or worse, we add to our credit card debt.

Since we’re living longer… that can be a problem.


With that in mind, let’s look at 5 ways to bridge the gap:


1. Use a Reverse Mortgage to Get Equity From Your Home


I have written a number of articles in my previous blogs about tapping the equity in your home through a reverse mortgage so I won’t bore you with repetition…

… but if you’re not at least considering the reverse mortgage option you’re not thinking straight.

 A reverse mortgage can allow you to take some of the growth in equity out or your home and let that growth pay for future home costs. 

Let’s think about that for a minute. 

The spending graph above shows housing costs accounting for 36% of total spending or $14,645 per year. 

Now think about what happens if a loan against your house can pay that cost instead of you.

You can add $15,000 to your freed up cash each year.

What could you do with an extra $15,000? 

By the way, remember the $2,856 deficit per year? 

This one move just turned that into an $11,789 surplus…

2. Take Social Security Early

early social security

“Social Security: Why Taking Benefits at 62 Is Smarter Than You Think”

If you’ve been led to believe that waiting to apply for Social Security is always the best thing to do, then you need to read this.

Yes it’s true that waiting to draw on your S.S. benefits will increase the monthly check you’ll receive but you might be surprised at how little the total benefits differ.

(Especially if you live the normal life span). 

Here’s how it works. 

If you were born between 1943 and 1954, you can start collecting benefits at age 62, but you’ll only get 75 percent of what you’d get if you wait until you’re 66.

If you wait until 67, you get 108 percent of your monthly benefit.

And at age 70, you’ll collect 132 percent — the maximum you can get by delaying benefits. 

Keep in mind that this scale is due to the fact that you can begin getting checks at 62, or for 96 months more than if you begin collecting at 70.

Here’s what that looks like:


Notice that the inflection point is about 80 years of age.  According to the latest data, the average lifespan of an American is 79.8 years old. And for men, it’s only 77.4 years compared to 82.2 years for women. Thus based on age alone, particularly for males, it may not be as smart as you first think to hold out for larger Social Security checks.

 It’s also worth pointing out that, according to a recent government report:

 “The Social Security benefit formula adjusts monthly payments so that someone living to average life expectancy should receive about the same amount of benefits over their lifetime regardless of which age they claim.”

 Go to the Social Security Administration’s Web site and find out when you’re entitled to full benefits.

If you don’t need the money at 62 imagine how much more comfortable it would be to take that money, turn it into cash and put it in the bank to shore up your savings…

3. Become a Blog Writer or Editor


Many boomers would like to make money utilizing our skills and education but not at a full time job. 

We don’t want to be tied to a schedule or commitments like our old jobs and we want to be paid well for our expert contribution. 

Unlike today, many of us were raised during an era when grammar and critical writing was actually taught in school. 

It’s said that success is when – “preparation and opportunity meet.”  

Today’s online marketing engine is based on writing content and blogging. 


A new term – content marketing – has been coined meaning, actually talking about a product or service.

(As opposed to showing pretty people acting like they are enjoying  that product or service in TV ads). 

Today’s consumer wants real information to help in a buying decision. 

Here’s the good news:

Our education and experience make us a perfect fit for communicating that knowledge. 

Consider that many companies today are concerned about writing blogs that will get them noticed on Google and other search engines.

Because of that creative writers are in high demand …

One person that I know writing articles charges $300 for an article about the same size as the one you’re reading now. 

How much could you make doing the same thing? 

Here is just one link and one example of how easy it is to offer your services.      

4. Sell your Life Insurance


Did you know that you could sell your life insurance policy for cash now rather than giving the money to your heirs when you die? 

I know that sounds ridiculous but sometimes it makes sense. 

Here’s a description of the program:

Life settlement:

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


A life settlement is the sale of an existing life insurance policy to a third party for more than its cash surrender value, but less than its net death benefit.[1] There are a number of reasons that a policy owner may choose to sell his or her life insurance policy. The policy owner may no longer need or want his or her policy, he or she may wish to purchase a different kind of life insurance policy, or premium payments may no longer be affordable.[1] Policy owners often learn about settling their policies from a financial planner or advisor, insurance broker, attorney, friends or family, or estate planning presentations.

The key phrase is:

No longer needed or premium payments may no longer be affordable.

 Often, a policy that is no longer needed but paid for over a long period of time is abandoned. 

Did you know that insurance companies often plan a huge rate increase right at the 20 year renewal point to encourage that abandonment?

In that case you just lost all of the investment that you’ve made over all those years and the insurance company walks away with a huge profit. 

A life settlement can help you recapture a lot of that investment

You can Google the term “Life Settlement” to learn more about how it might benefit you.

5. Find a treasure in your poor relative’s estate

Family discovers seven rare Ty Cobb cards possibly worth $1 Million.


According to the Associated Press, this family, which prefers to remain anonymous, pulled not one, but seven identical Ty Cobb cards from an old, beat up paper bag. The print period, according to baseball card experts, was sometime between 1909 and 1911. And before this discovery, only 15 copies of this specific card were known to still exist.

Lastly, and this is tongue in cheek, if you’re lucky enough to have a relative who stashed away a collector’s item years ago and forgot about it, you might just find that they left you more than family memories.

The real point is that almost all of us have assets that are greater than we have imagined. 

Many of us have hidden treasures and we should be careful about inventorying and giving value to each. 

We might just have far more than we thought!

reverse mortgage options



Reverse Mortgages

How does a Reverse Mortgage work?

how reverse mortgages work

if I asked you what you know about reverse mortgages…

… what’s the first thing that comes to mind?

Like most  people old enough to qualify, your answer is probably:

“That’s the program where the bank takes your house when you die…”


If so, you join the majority in being dead wrong…

Question #2:

Where does the money for a reverse mortgage come from?

Most people believe the government loans the money to banks who then distribute it.

This is also a common misconception.

Last Question:

How much money has the government lost on reverse mortgages?


Not one penny.

Why all the Reverse Mortgage Misconceptions?

Preconceived ideas make all of us believe what we think we know even when it’s obviously wrong.

For example:

What color is a stop sign?

You said “red” right?stop sign

I’ll get back to the color question just a second…

…but first…

…let’s talk about some of the preconceived ideas about reverse mortgages.

You see… about 20 years ago, some of these reverse mortgages ideas were true…

Transamerica gives Reverse Mortgages a Black Eye:


Remember Transamerica? 

They were a financial icon during the 60’s and 70’s.

Transamerica created one of the first non-government sponsored reverse mortgage programs. 

It was called a “shared appreciation” mortgage and instead of charging a set interest rate the company would share in the increasing equity of the home when the owner died and the home was sold. 

Here’s one example of the damage that this company did:

 “A lawsuit filed by the San Mateo County Public Guardian on behalf of Berta Grey, an 83-year old woman, alleged that Transamerica Corporation unfairly and unconscionably charged her what was in effect a shared appreciation fee.

This fee gave Transamerica an automatic 50% interest in the difference between the base value of the home when the loan was signed and the appreciated value of the home when the loan terminated, even though the fee bore no relation to the amount she actually borrowed. Additionally, the cost of Berta Grey’s reverse mortgage soared when she was required to purchase an annuity in conjunction with her reverse mortgage.

An annuity is an insurance product financed out of the home’s equity to provide monthly payments to the borrower immediately or after a certain number of years. The San Mateo County Public Guardian alleged that Transamerica charged Berta Gray the cost of the annuity immediately and that interest began compounding on that fee even though she was not due to receive any payment on the annuity until six years after the loan began, at age 89. Under this arrangement, if Ms. Gray died before the six-year period ended, her estate would see no benefit from the annuity purchase, although she had paid in full for it.”


 Transamerica was not the only unscrupulous financial institution to exploit seniors with these schemes …

…but they were the most publicly reported on simply because of the both the size of the company and their hypocritical marketing slogan that “you could trust the Pyramid…” 

Those negative stories were burned in our memories and remained long after the likes of these scammers were eliminated from the market. 


I’ll ask you the second color question…

What color is a Yield sign?

Keep that answer in mind while I talk about today’s safe program:

Far from a liberal government giveaway program…


In 1988, HUD gains the authority to insure reverse mortgages through the FHA when President Ronald Reagan signs the reverse mortgage bill into law. The reverse mortgage government insured loan is established.

Do you think any program the government is involved in has to be a liberal giveaway?

Did you know… it was actually Mr. Conservative himself, Ronald Reagan that signed the reverse mortgage bill into law?

This allowed the department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through its FHA branch to insure reverse mortgages making them more viable for banks to offer since the risk became minimal. 

This was really a second phase of the FHA program created following world war II to help returning GIs buy a home with very little down payment.  The original loan helped gain the home and the second loan (a reverse mortgage) would help them to stay in it during the retirement years. 

So, Reverse Mortgages Are Safe Now?


A critical component to this endorsement by HUD was to bring safety to the product. 

Very specific rules were dictated by HUD/FHA to all vendors who wished to offer the program. Not complying with these rules meant stiff penalties including fines and loss of authorization to continue in the program.

No reputable lender wanted to risk gaining the penalty attention from HUD and disreputable originators like Transamerica quickly exited the business. 

These rules included:

  • Mandatory counseling by a 3rd party HUD approved councilor to insure the borrower was not misled by the lender and that they completely understood the cost involved.
  • A mandated maximum origination fee which limited what the originator could charge.
  • A mandatory statement demonstrating the exact amount the loan would grow every month as the unpaid interest was being added to the principle amount.
  • And lastly, a three day right to cancel without fees if the borrower changes their mind up to three days after the loan closed.  


In other words, HUD has gone overboard to insure the program is safe and offered by reputable vendors. 

So, why is there still such a negative impression about them? 

The answer is very much like the color question regarding the yield sign.

I’ll bet you said “YELLOW….”

Look familiar? 


Would it surprise you to know that the government dictated that ALL yield signs must be red and white…

…over 30 years ago…

and we’ve been driving by them every day since, but since they were actually yellow in our early years of driving that is still our preconceived idea:

Untitled design

Now for how reverse mortgages work:


Most articles about reverse mortgage start with the comment that they are very complicated.

The truth is…

….they’re really not complicated at all. 

I can’t understand why people try to make them so complicated?

It’s really easy…

You borrow money today…

…and don’t need to make any payments unless you move, sell the home or die.

As to how much you can borrow…

It starts with these six things:

  1. What’s your home worth today?
  1. How much do you owe on it today?
  1. When you subtract those two numbers how much equity do you have?
  1. How old are you and your spouse?
  1. Lastly what is the interest rate?

All of these variables go into a calculator and out comes the amount that you can borrow.

These calculators are available all over the internet.

The one that I like is:  because you can get a calculation without risking being hassled by a sales rep after you enter your information.

When you apply for a reverse mortgage it works pretty much the same as if you were applying for a standard FHA mortgage with the exception that you’re not going to make a monthly payment. 

Instead the amount of the payment will be added the loan balance so the loan will grow every month. 

The loan is designed so that as long as the interest rate and appreciation growth rate of your home stay within norms, the growing value of your home off sets the loan growth and the remaining equity stays constant…

Erosion of Equity on FHA Reverse Mortgages

Like I mentioned here ….

This is by no means guaranteed and if event like 2008 happen again where home values fall rather than increase the equity could be consumed by the growing loan. 

Having said that, it’s a feature of the HECM loan that even if the equity is exhausted you remain in your home for as long as you or your spouse is able to maintain it.   

A recent change to the program that might have a big impact on whether the HECM reverse mortgage program is right for you is the newly enacted Financial Assessment. 

Prior to this new requirement there was no requirement to qualify with either income or credit history. 

However, in 2014, HUD began to finalize guidelines for Financial Assessment, which began to be implemented in 2015.

Financial Assessment requires lenders to analyze potential borrowers’ income sources and credit history to determine whether or not borrowers must have a mandatory set-aside of funds from proceeds to cover necessary expenses such as property taxes and homeowners insurance.

These steps are expected to yet again protect consumers and reduce the number of borrowers who might fall into default from failing to comply with loan terms like continuing to pay for taxes and insurance.

No calculator will answer the question of whether or not the financial assessment with impact your ability to qualify.

Only a conversation with a qualified originator and answer that question and we can help with that.   

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Reverse Mortgages Sell Your Home

Should Boomers Consider Encore Careers?


David Bowie dies of cancer aged 69

The Eagles’ Glenn Frey dead at 67

For anyone in the middle of the Baby Boom generation (like me) these headlines hit like a ton of bricks.

Not just because we grew up listening to their music and they were rock icons but more importantly because they were our age and they died of natural causes. 

It’s one thing to hear about a star dying of an overdose or plane crash which could happen at any age…

… but when they are our age and dying of natural causes that is when our own mortality finely becomes real.

Until then  we all think that we are still invincible…

… still have more time ahead of us…

….still think there’s plenty of time to change direction…

…and we can one day do what we were always meant to do, right?

Eventually, though, we’ll be faced with the reality of how few precious years we really do have left.

Rest in Peace Harry Brockwell:


Harry Brockwell, 77, passed away on Dec. 26th with family at his hospital bedside.

Who’s Harry Brockwell and what’s he have to do with the other two? 

Before you start to think that this article is a downer pointing out that we’re all headed to the final stop at the pearly gates let me assure you it’s just the opposite. 

Before I tell you about my friend Harry let’s agree that both Davie Bowie and Glen Frey had incredible lives and got to live their dream.

That’s exactly what they have in common with Harry.

Living Your Dreams Can Come Later in Life:


I met Harry over 30 years ago when I was a young salesman entering the “information systems industry.”

(That’s the fancy word we used to use for cash registers)…

Harry had been a veteran “C- level” manager in several companies during the cash register days. When the industry moved to new microprocessor technology and started changing at lightning speed many guys like him were pushed to the side. 

(Sound familiar?)

Harry was a great salesman but his heart was never in to what he was doing.

At about 50 years old he was out of a job and had no prospects for regaining a position in the same field. 

I asked what he planned to do and he said with a very confident smile,

“I’m going to do what I’ve always loved, I’m going to cook…”

Second Careers Usually Happen When You’re Out of Options:


Harry told me this he had taken some cooking classes but had no formal culinary education…

That meant he had no prospects of getting a job as a chef. 

He said that he was going to take over the fast food concession at one of the local state beaches (which only have business in the summer) and become a restaurateur. 

After all, he told me, what did he have to lose (other than money ) if it didn’t work? 

“When you think about it,” he continued, “I really have very few other choices… so I have no excuse to not do it.” 

I thought he had lost his mind…

Here’s What Happened to Harry


When life pulls you in different directions you sometimes lose touch with people you meant to remain in contact with. 

Such is the case with Harry and me when I moved from that area and seldom returned to visit.

I hadn’t seen or heard anything about him for 25 years until I received his obituary from a mutual friend. 

When I read it I was at once filled with a feeling of sadness at the fact that a friend had passed…

… but more importantly I was overcome with a sense of celebration for the way he lived.

Through those years I would sometimes think of Harry toiling away at the concession stand barely eking out a living and feeling sorry for him. 

Boy was I wrong!

And now – as the radio host Paul Harvey used to say – I’ll tell you the rest of the story


Here’s the rest of Harry’s obituary, he lived his dream and because of that had very successful and fulfilling life:

Here’s the rest of Harry’s obituary, he lived his dream and because of that had very successful and fulfilling life:

“Harry worked in a multitude of positions in sales and general management while employed with various companies throughout the U.S. and Canada. His love of cooking led him into the culinary arts and after many years of work and service was inducted into the American Academy of Chef’s Hall of Fame in 2014. Harry was president of the Ventura Chef’s Association twice, and twice chapter Chef of the Year. He was awarded his chapter’s Lifetime Achievement award for his unwavering commitment to the food service industry. In 1997, he was the ACF Western Regional Chef of the Year. He supported culinary-education related programs by performing site visits to ACF accredited postsecondary school programs, and evaluating certification applicants. He also served as an on-site visit inspector for various military food service competitions. He was ACF Western Region Vice President 2005-2009 and was recognized for his monthly newsletter. In 2012 he received The American Academy of Chef’s Larry Conti Chair achievement award; ACF Presidential Medallions in 1993, 1994 and 1998 and was a 2012 recipient of an Antonin Careme Medal from the Careme Society.”

Bravo Harry

You made your life worthwhile.

Thanks for showing its never too late.

Steve Jobs Leads by example:

Commencement speech that speaks to  doing what is important to you…

These are 2 quotes from Steve’s commencement speech that spoke to me:

  • For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘if today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.


  • “I didn’t see it then but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure of everything.  It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.” 

Encore Career is not synonymous with “Mother Theresa Syndrome”


Don’t be fooled into thinking that finding a new purpose in life needs to include philanthropic activities.

Every book I’ve read on the subject talks only about the corporate suit who quit but then went into managing a non-profit…

…or the bookkeeper who quit to go into become a social worker in the underprivileged areas. 

While that might be a noble thing to do and fulfilling for them, could you imagine Steve Jobs donating his time at the local computer club rather than spending it creating products that changed the world? 

For that matter, I can’t imagine Harry Brockwell spending his time delivering meals on wheels to the elderly, (it just wasn’t his thing).

Finding what you really want to do and then doing it is what matters. 

When you do something well because you enjoy it, others usually benefit as byproduct.

Two more favorite quotes from another genius:



  • “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”
  • “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

The most important action to take is to take action. 

That might sound ridiculous ...but the number one reason for not living your dream is the paralysis caused by the thought of changing our routines, the thought of living outside of our comfort zones for a while and the lack of knowing where to begin. 

We’ve spent our lives doing what we done and so it doesn’t take much thought or effort to just keep doing it.

Change is so traumatic for us we usually only do it when we have no other choice such as being fired like Harry and Steve. 

Whether change is forced on you or you’ve found the courage to jump off the cliff before being pushed taking that first step in the most important. 

Things usually start to fall in to place after that.

Planning can eliminate the fear: 

business failed

In my case I had both the scenarios.

For ten years I had a very successful business that kicked out a lot of cash flow and I could imagine a day when that cash flow was so automatic that I could retire and just collect checks and take them to the bank. 

In the mean time I was so bored out of my mind that I remember thinking, “the best thing that could happen to me is to lose this automatic base because it would force me to take action, and that action would be in a different direction.” 

Well the phrase – be careful what you wish for because it just might come true – is exactly what happened. 

Within a very short time the business crashed and my thoughts of simply driving to the bank every day to deposit checks was replaced with, “oh shit, what do I do now?”

crash and burn

 Like a pilot experiencing engine trouble I went into automatic mode.

  1. Trim the plane to maximize the glide. Translation – cut all unnecessary expense and limit the outgoing cash burn to as little as possible.
  2. Look for the closest safe landing spot. Translation – look for the next thing you’d like to do and point yourself in that direction.
  3. Breakout the emergency equipment and rations to survive on. Translation – liquefy equities and turn them into cash with a plan of how long that cash will last.
  4. Once down on the ground immediately get busy working the survival plan. Translation – Don’t hesitate, move forward with the plan immediately and stay on budget.

My planning made it clear that I would need about two years without an income before the new direction that I had in mind would start turning a profit that I could count on. 

Additionally the project would require an investment so I would need even more capital. 

Fortunately I had plenty of equity in real estate (including my California home) that I could liberate which would provide the means to achieve my goals. 



That’s exactly what I did…

Selling my home in California, moving to Florida, reducing my California living expenses to Florida living expenses and re-deploying my equity into re-directing my life has been the best thing that could have happened to me. 

For me, the answer was selling my house.

If I had been over 62 the answer might have been a reverse mortgage.

Either way the key to unlocking the door to opportunity was the liberation of my equity. 

What’s your plan?

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fast cash for homes

Reverse Mortgages Sell Your Home

Reverse Mortgage Vs. Selling Home: Which is Better?


A lot of folks who are at or near retirement need to access their home equity to do so comfortably.

Here’s the first question most people ask:

“Should  I do a reverse mortgage or sell my home?”

In some cases, the answer could be….

Why not do both?

Recently I spoke with Ron in San Jose, California about a reverse mortgage. 

Ron is 65, his wife is close to the same age and both are very ready to retire

Both have good jobs that will pay a pension and Ron estimates that their total combined retirement income will be about $4,000 per month. 

After congratulating him on managing to assure an annual income of $50,000 per year he said…

“but there’s a problem…”



When $50,000 a year is not enough…

Ron and his wife own a home in San Jose with a value of $630,000 and they owe $501,000. 

Their mortgage is $3,000 per month. As Ron put it,

“if I retire with that house payment I’ll be housebound ….there will be no money left to do anything…” 

He said “if I could just eliminate my mortgage payment I’d have enough income to live very well.” 


20% Equity is a bridge too far:

Ron’s neighbor just did a reverse mortgage and that neighbor was able to eliminate his monthly mortgage payment. Ron thought the same solution might work for him. 

Unfortunately the situations were very different … while it worked for Ron’s neighbor (who had sufficient equity) it didn’t work for Ron. 

Based on Ron’s current mortgage balance his home’s value would have to increase to more than $817,000 for him  to qualify for a reverse mortgage. 


Let’s take a look at the loan calculator numbers…  

The following is a report of Ron’s actual situation when calculated by the IBIS Reverse Mortgage online Calculator. 

Notice the number ($186,494.90) in red meaning that his equity is short by that amount. 

I realize the rest of the numbers can be a little confusing without an explanation but the important point is to note that in this case, for Ron, a reverse mortgage is simply not an option.























The Ibis reverse mortgage calculator is a free online service and I chose it to create this sample because unlike the others you’re not required to enter all of your contact information in order to use it. 

If you would like to find out how much of a reverse mortgage that you would qualify for while being assured that no sales rep is going to pester you after you’ve given your  basic information use this link:

Reverse Mortgage Calculator

So what’s Ron’s solution?


Here’s the dilemma:

Ron can’t qualify for a reverse mortgage on his current home, so he’s locked into that $3,000 mortgage payment unless he sells the house. 

But if he sold the house and rented something in the same area his rent would be equal to or greater than his current mortgage payment. 

Yes it’s true that he’d have $100,000 cash in his pocket from the sale proceeds after paying off the loan but with rent of $36,000 per year he’d only have three years before all of his equity was consumed.

Then what?

Ron and his wife are not from the San Jose area originally and really have no ties to that community. 

They are willing to relocate to another area if that means they could live comfortably and have enough money to actually enjoy their retirement. 

Which means… Ron has some options.

The Solution Could be Reverse Mortgage for Purchase


In a previous post I talked about using the HECM (aka reverse mortgage) for Purchase (or H4P) to afford a larger or more expensive home…

…but what about using the program to downsize? 

Keep in mind Ron would have about $100,000 cash from the sale of his San Jose house. 

That’s a great down payment on a $200,000 home and the second $100,000 could come from a reverse mortgage for purchase. 

Ron and his wife can live in the home without a mortgage payment and will have the entire $4000 monthly retirement income to pay for expense and have enough left to really enjoy their retirement years. 

That sounds fantastic, right?

Why… aren’t… more… people… doing… this?

Let’s take a look at a study of home buyer’s preference in financing a home purchase:

Only 3% of Seniors Plan to Buy Homes Using Reverse Mortgages

A majority of home buyers over 62 prefer to buy their home using a traditional forward mortgage rather than a reverse mortgage, according to the results from a new survey by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Of 4,326 total responses garnered by NAHB, only 3% of buyers say they would use a reverse mortgage to pay for their new home, whereas 67% would likely use a traditional mortgage, whereas 28% would pay in all cash. Only 2% of buyers said they would use “other” forms of payment.


Really? Why?

The answer is simple. 

There is a perception by both baby boomers and seniors alike that reverse mortgages are inherently bad.  Why is that? 

People naturally feel skeptical about anything that they don’t fully understand and very few people understand a reverse mortgage. 

On the other hand what most people believe they know about a reverse mortgage is usually wrong. 


For example, the majority of seniors believe that “the bank takes your house when you die” which has never been true. These preconceived ideas are very unfortunate because they keep many people who, (like Ron) could greatly benefit from embracing this vital tool.

Ok… but how is Ron going to replace his San Jose home with something comparable that he can buy without paying a mortgage? 

Well…. he can MOVE...  

Here are 10 locations that work:

The 10 Best Cities to Retire in the US

  1. Prescott, Arizona – Average Home Price: $256,400

If you love the outdoors and a vibrant cultural scene, you should consider retiring in Prescott, Arizona.  Located in the north of Arizona, this old mining town experiences a cooler summer than southern Arizona, helping you steer clear of sweltering summer temperatures.  A booming economy, rich history, and low housing prices make this place a real contender for retirement.


  1. Venice, Florida – Average Home Price: $210,000

Venice is a small retirement community found on the Gulf of Mexico in Florida.  Named after Venice, Italy, this community has many canals and rivers that run through it and has been designed with architectural influence from Italian renaissance.  Calm traffic and low prices mean peaceful retirement and it’s particularly well suited to slightly older retirees.  Parks, beaches, golf, tennis, and proximity to the beach will keep you busy, and proximity to nearby Sarasota will mean you have everything you need.


  1. St. Augustine, Florida – Average Home Price: $208,000

The historic community of St. Augustine, Florida, is a perfect retirement location for history buffs.  The local economy is driven by tourism, so if you’re keen to volunteer and stay an active part of your community, this might be the city for you.  On the north east coast of Florida, this city experiences cooler temperatures than other options in the state.


  1. Beaufort, South Carolina – Average Home Price: $156,700

The quaint, charming southern community of Beaufort, South Carolina, is a prime retirement spot.  This old river town offers plenty of golfing and fishing during the mild winters and hot summers. The military installations in the city solidify the economy and diversify the population – while Beaufort is home to a growing retirement community, there are lots of families here as well.


5. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina – Average Home Price: $207,141 

Whatever you are looking for in your retirement locale, from downtown living to a planned community, Myrtle Beach has what you need.  Some of the highlights are the Grand Stand – a huge stretch of pristine sandy beach, trendy shopping and restaurants, low cost of living, great theater, excellent medical care, and enough golf courses to keep things exciting. All these reasons will make you love your retirement life in sunny Myrtle Beach.


  1. Abilene, Texas – Average Home Price: $244,295

If you’re looking for an affordable retirement, head to Abilene, Texas.  With cost of living over 10% below national average, this old railroad shipping town has a growing retirement community.  Year round warm weather and excellent recreational and social opportunities for senior citizens of Abilene will keep you entertained and in good company all year round.


  1. Austin, Texas – Average Home Price: $255,000

This big city offers plenty of activities to keep the retiree busy and engaged.  Home to the University of Texas, this cultural hub boasts a terrific economy, warm weather, plenty of volunteering opportunities, open air art markets, galleries, museums, performing art theatres, low crime, and it’s the live music capital of the world.  With so much going on, this city would be best suited for energetic retirees who aren’t looking for too much peace and quiet!


  1. Boise, Idaho – Average Home Price: $188,700

Boise, Idaho makes a great retirement destination for active adults.  Into biking?  This city was rated one of the best cities to live and ride.  Love the outdoors?  The mountains are at your doorstep, and the river offers whitewater adventures for the daredevil retirees out there.  In downtown Boise, there are many shopping, eating, and cultural opportunities.  Walking paths and low crime rates mean that you will feel confident stepping out into this great retirement city.


  1. Palm Springs, California – Average Home Price: $337,500

Located in the Coachella Valley, Palm Springs is one of world’s most famous retirement communities.  The breath taking landscape and rich culture draw people from all around the globe to retire here.  Active retirees can enjoy the golf scene and the nearby Joshua Tree Park, and everyone can enjoy the 350 days of sunshine a year.  Watch out though – summers here are so hot you’ll have to retreat to the air conditioned indoors!


  1.  Salt Lake City, Utah – Average Home Price: $240,800

Nestled into the Wasatch Mountains of Utah and next to the Great Salt Lake, the beautiful Salt Lake City is a picturesque place to retire.  Perfect for the active adult, you can enjoy golf and winter sports galore.  Clean air, booming economy, plenty of volunteering opportunities, and an above average doctor per capita rate make this city a prime retirement spot!  Salt Lake experiences cold winters and hot, dry summers, so skip this city for retirement if you can’t take the cold!


Notice that these 10 cities represent every region of the country (other than Northeast) and provide every kind of topography, climate, and life style that you could ask for.

In other words, there is often no reason that you can’t have the kind of retirement that you’ve always dreamed of.


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Reverse Mortgages Sell Your Home

Can You Change Careers After 50 or 60? You Bet!

How to change careers after 50 or 60

“Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.”
— Allen Saunders:

Do you resemble Allen Saunders’ quote? 

Did your dreams for life not match your experience? 

Here’s what I dreamed of doing in my 20’s:

after 55 you should have work you love

The year was 1969.  I was 13 years old when the movie Easy Rider hit the movie theater. 

It was the typical Rebel Without a Cause genre with the added effect of a cross country journey on the open road. 

I was hooked and immediately began plans for a similar journey in 5 years directly following high school graduations. 

What I actually did in my 20’s:


By 20 my dreams were replaced with a different life path…

Here’s what I actually did:

  • I married my high school sweetheart…
  • had 2 kids…
  • bought a home…
  • …and settled on a career that would provide sufficient income to support what was supposed to be the “American Dream.”

I believed replacing the open road for a back yard, a camp fire for a barbecue, and a Harley Davidson Motorcycle for a John Deer ride on lawn mower was the key to finding happiness. 

The problem I had is that my career in sales while economically rewarding was otherwise not very fulfilling. 

What I didn’t realize at the time:

I was typical of the average Boomer… the majority of us hated our jobs.

Gallup Poll finds 70% hate their job:

Gallup has been diligently measuring employee satisfaction rates all over the world. In their most recent survey for 2014, over 80,000 adults were surveyed, resulting in a staggering statistic: nearly 70% of American’s hate their job.  Employees have shouted from the rooftop that in order to love their jobs they need to find purpose, meaning, feel useful and use the skills they were given in a positive way.

That’s why so many of us dream of the day that we can retire. 

Because we see retirement as the day we can actually stop doing something we hate to do. 

But do we really want to stop working for 30 years to go play golf? 

The answer is overwhelmingly NO

We just want to finally do something we “like to do” instead of something we “have to do…”

In fact… most of us NEED to keep working…. but…

Americans seek meaningful work in the second half of life

A MetLife Foundation/Civic Ventures:

Survey conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates, Inc. from February to April 2008, involving 1,063 phone interviews and 2,522 online interviews.

Income and benefits are important now but will become even more important to boomers in the years ahead.

Younger boomers (79%) are more likely to say they plan to work longer because they need the income and benefits than pre-boomers (64%). Given the disappearance of traditional pensions, the escalating costs of health benefits, and the lack of adequate retirement savings, it’s easy to understand why.

Those in encore careers are having a good experience. Their message is that the encore career is, on balance, fulfilling and worth pursuing. More than eight in 10 of those in encore careers (84%) say they either get a “tremendous amount” of satisfaction (38%) or “quite a bit” of satisfaction (46%) from their encore careers. A similar percentage (94%) of those in encore careers say that it is “definitely true” (54%) or “somewhat true” (40%) that they have seen the positive results of their work and know they are making a difference. The vast majority indicate they have the income, benefits, and flexibility they say they need.

See full report:

What the heck is an Encore career?

The phrase “encore career” was first made popular by Marc Freedman, the founder and CEO of in his book Encore: Finding Work That Matters in the Second Half of Life.[1]

An encore career is work in the second half of life that combines continued income, greater personal meaning, and social impact. These jobs are paid positions often in public interest fields, such as education, the environment, health, the government sector, social services, and other nonprofits. Encore Fellowships, created in 2009 by the nonprofit, are designed to transition highly experienced professionals from the corporate sector into encore careers in the social sector.

What if you don’t know what you want to do as an Encore career?

Good question…

I asked exactly that same thing. 

Here is a resource that I found very helpful:


Life reimagined is a tool provided by AARP that helps you discover (or uncover) the career path that would be best suited to helping you find real happiness and fulfillment in your 3rd chapter of life. 

The website also offers video interviews hosted by Jane Pauley that show boomers actually living the dream. 

Here’s one of my favorites:

Top 7 Regrets of People Who Are Dying

Here’re the top regrets of people who are dying and how we can use them to live a more fulfilling life.

  1.  I wish I had lived my own life rather than how society taught me to live.
  2.   I wish I discovered my purpose earlier.
  3.   I wish I had taken more risks.
  4.   I wish I had taken better care of myself.
  5.   I wish I’d allowed myself to love.
  6.  I wish I had touched more lives and inspired more people.
  7.  I wish I had been a better partner or parent.

The question is…

Is it too late to make the changes to eliminate these regrets? 

The answer is NO…

…you probably have 20 to 30 more years left in an Encore career if you start today…

Encore Careers: Civic Ventures Study Finds Transition Is Tough

Laura Rowley

Financially, more than two in three respondents who are already in encore careers experienced gaps in personal income during the process. One quarter said they earned no money and 43 percent said they earned significantly less than they had at their previous jobs.

Of those who experienced time with little to no income, nearly four in five respondents experienced a gap of six months or more; 36 percent said their income gap lasted more than two years.

At 50, Rogers was laid off after 18 years as a director of software engineering for a corporation. She had been an active volunteer with the Alzheimer’s Association and wanted to move into the non-profit sector, but was rebuffed for lack of experience.

Rogers attended a three-month program focused on helping seasoned professionals transfer to the nonprofit sector, followed by a two-month fellowship. That paved the path to her new job, in which she helps 220 families in one of Connecticut’s largest and lowest-income housing projects with employment, education, childcare and other issues. “The transition wasn’t easy — my husband and I had a substantial reduction in income for 14 months,” Rogers said.


Now for the bad news:

Just as in the example above most of us boomers will face financial challenges with launching an entirely new career.

Whether it’s:

  • the cost of going back to school
  • the cost of living with a reduced income while training, or
  • simply doing something that has low economic benefit in exchange for high psychobiological benefit

The simple fact is, we will probably need to draw on our current assets to support our transition.

In most cases your home equity might be the most valuable resource you have in your arsenal.

(Unless you have a large chunk of cash sitting in the bank or a generous pension from your previous career). 

Liberating your home’s equity could be the catalyst to launching what I call BoomerLife 3.0.

BoomerLife 3.0 is where you finally live the life that you’ve always imagined.     

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