Neuroscience and Aging with Vitality and Happiness

“A smart person knows how to talk. A wise person knows when to be silent.” – Roy T. Bennett

WHAT NEUROSCIENCE CAN TELL US ABOUT AGING BETTER

When you think of old age, what comes to mind? Slowing down? Being forgetful? Not feeling quite as sharp?

Jill Suttie of Greater Good Magazine recently sat down with neuroscientist, Daniel Levitin, to talk about what neuroscience can teach us about aging well with more vitality and happiness.

Levitin is a neuroscientist, psychologist, professor emeritus at McGill University in Montreal, and faculty fellow at UC Berkeley. In his book, Successful Aging: A Neuroscientist Explores the Power and Potential of Our Lives, he gives insights into how early childhood experiences, personalities, social relationships, and lifestyles all directly contribute to a brain’s development, thus taking the task the misconception that cognitive decline is inevitable in older age.

He argues against ageism and for the need to change the conversation about aging and the importance of placing more value on older adults for their experience and what they can contribute to society.

Levitin also shows us what we all can do to become sharper, happier, and wiser as we age.

CLICK HERE see an edited version of their discussion and get tips for aging well from Daniel Levitin.

Create a Better Retirement with a Reverse Mortgage

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” – Theodore Roosevelt

THE REVERSE MORTGAGE 

Worried about retirement and concerned that you’re not ready?

You are certainly not alone. Most people do not feel financially prepared for this next phase of life and find planning overwhelming.

Looking at retirement planning holistically is incredibly important and taking into consideration all of your assets.

One significant asset is your home.

A reverse mortgage is a strategic tool that will put your home equity to work for you and help you better meet your retirement goals.

Below is a comprehensive overview on reverse mortgages that highlights the following:

  • What is a reverse mortgage
  • What you can do with a reverse mortgage
  • Are you eligible for a reverse mortgage
  • The key consumer protections and safeguards in place for reverse mortgages
  • Details on the HomeSafe suite of reverse mortgage solutions
  • Advantages of reverse mortgages vs. a HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit)
  • Hypothetical examples of retirement scenarios
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • The loan process
  • What the respected media has to say about reverse mortgages

DOWLOAD REVERSE MORTGAGE OVERVIEW

The Wall Street Journal/Real Estate 

“Homeowners sitting on significant equity due to rising home values or because they’ve paid off their mortgage could be a good fit. They can, of course, unlock that equity by selling their properties or getting home-equity loans or lines of credit. But for older Americans who want to stay in their home or supplement their income without assuming additional debt, a better option might be the jumbo reverse mortgage.”

– Robyn A. Friedman, Contributor, “Senior Homeowners Give Reverse Jumbo Mortgages New Life.”

 

Forbes Highlights The Jumbo Reverse Mortgage

“You must master a new way to think before you can master a new way to be.
– Marriane Williamson

FORBES: FINDING YOUR RIGHT MORTGAGE PRODUCT 
– THE JUMBO REVERSE MORTGAGE – 

Many Americans find themselves in unique financial situations that require seeking out alternative forms of financing to more traditional, forward mortgage loans.

Fortunately, there are numerous financial products available beyond the traditional solutions that can help individuals in these situations more efficiently and strategically.

In a new piece on Forbes, Melissa Cohn, EVP at Family First Funding LLC Private Client Group, talks about the jumbo reverse mortgage as one of these alternative solutions.

“Homeowners can now obtain a reverse mortgage in New York and other states up to $4 million,” Cohn writes as a member of Forbes’ real estate council. “Until recently, we were limited to loan limits of approximately $700,000. The increase in reverse loan limits is a huge benefit to senior homeowners who live in high-value homes.”

According to Cohn, proprietary reverse mortgage options provide a new way for those seniors who live in homes with values beyond the lending limit currently applied to more traditional Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) loans, to tap into their home’s equity.

“With increased loan limits, senior homeowners can potentially access hundreds of thousands of dollars more than previously allowed,” she says.

“Now, borrowers have the ability to tap into their home’s equity and put it to work any way they want, giving them more control over their assets, investments and cash flow. Proceeds are tax-free and no monthly mortgage payments are required.”

Cohn also highlights the many ways the loan’s proceeds can be used.

“Funds can be used for any purpose, such as buying a second home or condo, paying for medical or in-home care expenses, paying for home improvements or limiting the need to take excessive distributions from their investment portfolio. No mortgage insurance is required.”

Improve Your Retirement with a Jumbo Reverse Mortgage 

If you’re a senior who owns a home with a notable amount of equity, a proprietary jumbo reverse mortgage may be a viable option to help you tap into that equity, diversify your investment strategy and improve your retirement.

Sending a Heart Full of Thanks This Holiday Season

– ‘TIS THE SEASON – 
MERRY CHRISTMAS 

It is with a heart full of thanks that we end this fabulous year!

It means so much to me to be entrusted by you, to assist in removing financial burdens and replacing them with peace of mind.

In the spirit of the holiday season, I share below the wise words of Albert Einstein.

May they also inspire you to look out into the world and acknowledge the values that we share with one another, rather than the differences between us.

Loving our fellow man, and helping where you can, is why we are here on Earth.

Strange is our situation here upon earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to a divine purpose. 

From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: That we are here for the sake of other men – above all for those upon whose smile and well-being our own happiness depends, for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy.

Many times a day, I realize how much my outer and inner life is built upon the labors of people, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received and am still receiving.” – Albert Einstein

WITH HEARTFELT GRATITUDE

May the beauty of the holidays warm your spirit, energize your soul and may the New Year be full of endless possibilities.

Warmly,
Cynthia Kee

Reverse Mortgage Lending Limit to Rise in 2020

“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

FHA Reverse Mortgage Limit to Rise in 2020

There’s positive news for reverse mortgages as we end the year and start looking towards 2020.

The Federal Housing Administration is increasing its maximum claim amount for reverse mortgages for 2020.

According to the FHA, the HECM limit will increase in 2020 from 2019’s level of $726,525 to $765,600.

This marks the fourth straight year that the FHA has increased the HECM limit. Two years ago, the loan limit was $675,650, which means the HECM limit has increased by almost $100,000 since 2018.

The HECM limit is based on 150% of the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s conforming loan limits for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which were recently raised to more than $510,000.

But unlike Fannie and Freddie’s loan limits and FHA’s forward mortgage limit, there is no geographic variation for the HECM loan limit.

The reverse mortgage limit is $765,600 for all parts of the U.S., including the high-cost areas and the special areas of Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, where forward mortgage limits far exceed the rest of the country.

The increase of nearly $40,000 over last year’s HECM limit means borrowers will soon be able to extract more equity from their homes using a government-insured reverse mortgage.

It also might mean that more people can qualify for the loan.

HECM requires borrowers to pay off an existing mortgage before obtaining the loan, so some borrowers with high mortgage balances may not have been able to secure enough proceeds to qualify.

With a higher claim amount, there may be enough money in the HECM loan to make it work.

According to the FHA, the new HECM limits are effective for case numbers assigned on or after Jan. 1, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2020.

Thanksgiving Greetings & Gratitude

An Attitude of Gratitude

The importance of gratitude is one of the few things in life that almost everyone can agree on.

We drill it into our kids. We preach it in our places of worship. We even have a majority holiday devoted to it.

The only thing we don’t do very often is talk about why thankfulness is so important.

Some might say that it’s a core value and leave it at that. However, others might be more mindful of practicing it on a daily basis.

Thankfully, gratitude isn’t something we have to figure out on our own. It’s been the subject of many wise words over the years.

The following list includes some of history’s best and more powerful quotes about being thankful.

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” John F. Kennedy
—————————————————————–

“Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.” Henry Van Dyke
—————————————————————–
“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”
Winnie-the-Pooh (A.A. Milne)
—————————————————————–
“No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.” James Allen
—————————————————————-
“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”  Thornton Wilder
—————————————————————–
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wherever you go and whatever you do this Thanksgiving I wish you the very best. Being able to work with you is something I’m truly grateful for.

With gratitude, Cynthia 

What To Do When Your Nest Egg Disappears

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.”- Dalai Lama XIV

RETIREMENT PLANNING 
What To Do When Your Nest Egg is Gone 

There are many retirees out there that found their callings later in life and have decided to keep working for pleasure, as well as for financial reasons.

What happens when you’ve done all the right things and properly saved and planned for retirement — and then the rug is pulled from beneath your feet due to the unexpected and you’re left without your financial safety net during your golden years?

Amara Rose, one of my favorite contributing writers to HECM World, talked about this in a post a few months ago and I found it extremely relevant and a situation that some of my clients have unfortunately had to face themselves.

Amara mentioned one Boomer couple (66 and 71 year olds), who had everything all lined up for a relaxed and financially secure retirement. But then a combination of serial job loss, serious illness and the financial markets collapse practically eliminated their savings.

The couple asked their son and his family to move in while they tried to sell their house and move to a more affordable option in an attempt to repair the damage.

It’s unfortunate they weren’t aware of or didn’t consider a reverse mortgage, which might have been the ideal solution to enable them to remain in their home and start rebuilding their nest egg.

Now, even though the husband is employed again, they have an enormous amount of credit card debt.

Some financial pundits believe owning a house is the problem and can be a financial burden. And some advise seniors to pay off their mortgage and rent in retirement. Yet this doesn’t take into consideration that a great deal of seniors want to live out their golden years in their longtime home.

It’s true that housing can be a significant expense in retirement but it’s not the only concern or expense. According to a recent Employee Benefit Research Institute report, by age 90, “health care expenses account for more than 20 percent of the households’ entire budgets.”

End-of-life health care costs can be astronomical, even with Medicare: those in the 95th percentile of health care spending in 2011 spent almost $30,000, while those in the 25th percentile spent less than $1000.

The Keys: Preparation and Adaptation 

Finding a dream job later on in life may or may not happen. But having the peace of mind that you can stay in your own home is essential to many seniors.

It’s important that there is awareness of a reverse mortgage as a possible financial tool to benefit a nest egg when creating a retirement planning toolkit – especially if you consider many mass affluent are already using HECMs to strategically support their portfolios in a down market.

Aging with Humor: A Few Funny Thoughts & Stories

“Do just once what others say you can’t do, and you will never pay attention to their limitations again.”- James R. Cook

SOME SHORT THOUGHTS & HUMOROUS STORIES ON AGING

Aging gracefully and growing older should be fun. Here are some short thoughts and a few funny stories about aging.

TWO OLD GUYS AT A DINNER 

An elderly couple has dinner at another couple’s house, and after eating, the wives leave the table and go into the kitchen.

The two gentlemen were talking, and one says, ‘Last night we went out to a new restaurant and it was really great. I would recommend it very highly.’

The other man asks, ‘What is the name of the restaurant?’ The first man thinks and thinks and finally asks, ‘What is the name of that flower you give to someone you love? You know…The one that’s red and has thorns.’

‘Do you mean a rose?’

‘Yes, that’s the one,’ replied the man. He then turns towards the kitchen and yells, ‘Rose, what’s the name of that restaurant we went to last night?


I’ve sure gotten old! I’ve had two bypass surgeries, a hip replacement, new knees, fought prostate cancer and diabetes.

I’m half blind, can’t hear anything quieter than a jet engine, take 40 different medications that make me dizzy, winded, and subject to blackouts. Have bouts with dementia.

Have poor circulation; hardly feel my hands and feet anymore.

Can’t remember if I’m 85 or 92. Have lost all my friends.

But, thank God, I still have my driver’s license.


ELDERLY MAN THINKS FAST 

An elderly farmer in Florida had a large pond down by his fruit orchard. One evening he decided to go down to the pond and took a five gallon bucket to pick some fruit.

As he neared the pond, he heard female voices shouting and laughing with glee. As he came closer he saw a bunch of young women skinny-dipping in the pond.

He made the women aware of his presence and they all went to the deep end. One of the women shouted to him, ‘We’re not coming out until you leave!’

The old man thought for a second and said, ‘I didn’t come down here to watch you ladies swim or to make you get out of the pond naked.’

Holding the bucket up he said, ‘I’m here to feed the alligator!’


I feel like my body has gotten totally out of shape, so I got my doctor’s permission to join a fitness club and start exercising. I decided to take an aerobics class for seniors. I bent, twisted, gyrated, jumped up and down, and perspired for an hour. But, by the time I got my leotards on, the class was over.


MEMORIES 

A couple in their nineties are both having problems remembering things. During a checkup, the doctor tells them that they’re physically okay, but they might want to start writing things down to help them remember.

Later that night, while watching TV, the old man gets up from his chair. ‘Want anything while I’m in the kitchen?’ he asks.

‘Will you get me a bowl of ice cream?’

‘Sure.’

‘Don’t you think you should write it down so you can remember it?’ she asks.

‘No, I can remember it.’

‘Well, I’d like some strawberries on top, too. Maybe you should write it down, so’s not to forget it?’

He says, ‘I can remember that. You want a bowl of ice cream with strawberries.’

‘I’d also like whipped cream. I’m certain you’ll forget that, write it down.’ she says.

Irritated, he says, ‘I don’t need to write it down, I can remember it! Ice cream with strawberries and whipped cream – I got, for goodness sake!’

Then he toddles into the kitchen. After about 20 minutes, the old man returns from the kitchen and hands his wife a plate of bacon and eggs. She stares at the plate for a moment.

‘Where’s my toast?’

Maximize Your Retirement with HomeSafe

“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.”- Abraham Lincoln 

FINANCIAL TOOLS TO FIT YOUR UNIQUE RETIREMENT

When you think about retirement, what is your vision?

I’ve found that retirement can mean something very different to each of my clients. For some their goal is to have the freedom to travel and explore the world. For others it’s right-sizing to the ideal home closer to family and with no mortgage payments. And most would like to live out their golden years with financial security and peace of mind.

The HomeSafe® suite of reverse mortgage products offers a variety of options to help you bring your retirement vision to life.

Click on the link below to download an overview on HomeSafe and learn more about the range of strategic financial solutions available.  

far-Homesafe-Brochure

Interested in the HomeSafe suite and talking about which solution will help you meet your retirement goals? Contact me to have a conversion or to set up a complimentary personal assessment.

 

HECM vs. HELOC: What’s the Difference

“Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.”- Robert A. Heinlein

A COMPARISON: HECM VS. HELOC 

One of the questions I get asked frequently is what are the differences between a HECM (Home Equity Conversion Mortgage) and a HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit).

With both a HECM and a HELOC you maintain ownership of your home but with the HECM there are a number of other significant benefits.

Below is a great piece talking about the differences between these two financial solutions.

Click here to read: far-2000-hecm-vs-heloc 

Please reach out if you’d like to learn more about how a HECM can help you meet your retirement goals. 

HUD Secretary Committed to HECM Changes

“Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.”- Walt Whitman

REVERSE MORTGAGE NEWS

HUD Secretary Confirms HECM Reforms 

In a recent Senate hearing titled, “Housing Finance Reform: Next Steps,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson confirmed HUD’s mission to enact key HECM reform in his prepared remarks.

Shannon Hicks, industry expert and President of Reverse Focus, Inc., covers the hearing in his “The Industry Leader Update” featured on HECM World and talks about the changes outlined by Secretary Carson.

Click the image below to watch the video or visit: https://bit.ly/2nBf64A. 

Interested in learning more about the proposed changes to the HECM program and what impact these will have?   

Contact me to have a conversation or to set up a complimentary personal assessment and see if a reverse mortgage is the right solution for you.

Join me in Bend Oregon for a Free Lunch & Learn Sept. 18th

SECURING YOUR FUTURE WITH A REVERSE MORTGAGE
FREE LUNCH & LEARN
Wednesday, September 18th 2019
11:00am – 1:00pm
Bend, Oregon

How Would Eliminating Mortgage Payments Change Your Life?

Join me September 18th for a Free Lunch & Learn where I’ll answer questions about reverse mortgages and talk about all of the benefits of this effective retirement solution, including:

»  Unlocking the equity in your home
»  Paying off an existing mortgage
»  Creating a tax free income for life
»  Paying off credit card debt


E V E N T  H I G H L I G H T

Buying a Home with a Reverse Mortgage


V E N U E 

Awbrey Glen Golf Club
2500 NW Awbrey Glen Dr. Bend, Oregon

RSVP REQUIRED & LIMITED SEATS 

CALL OR EMAIL ME TO BOOK
CA: 707-812-2102
OR: 541-797-0171
Email: cynthia126@icloud.com

Traditional & Reverse Mortgages: The Risks

Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”- Steve Jobs 

NO MORTGAGE IS RISK-FREE

I’m sure you’ve seen at least a few national media headlines on how risky a reverse mortgage can be for older homeowners.

In a recent post on HECM World – one of my go-to resources for reverse mortgage news – industry expert Shannon Hicks touched on some of the most common risks that can be found in traditional and reverse mortgages and how most can be avoided.

1. Spending the Kids Inheritance
Many formal complaints filed on federally-insured reverse mortgages come from the adult children or heirs of a borrower. Many are not happy to find out their mom or dad took out a loan and are even less pleased to discover that a part or all of the home’s equity has been consumed.

In many of these cases the parents were not in a position to cover their daily living expenses and opted for an HECM to help reduce some of their financial burdens and maintain a sense of financial independence.

While heirs may have concerns about their inheritance, their parents often face real and more pressing and immediate financial concerns in their retirement years.

2. Foreclosure with Eviction
Few reverse mortgages result in the displacement of the homeowner, yet several HECM borrowers had ‘foreclosure’ proceedings initiated due to the non-payment of property taxes or homeowner’s insurance premiums.

The truth is that any borrower with a traditional 30 or 15-year home mortgage who does not pay such property charges will find themselves facing a foreclosure action from their lender – a fact that tends not be mentioned in the media.

HUD’s Financial Assessment for HECM borrowers has drastically reduced defaults for nonpayment of property charges now measuring the homeowner’s financial capacity and willingness to meet these ongoing obligations. The vast majority of what HUD calls HECM foreclosures are in fact the natural end of the loan when no equity remains or the loan balance exceeds the sale price of the home.

3. Loss of Equity
While an HECM does consume the equity of the home as payments are rarely made to reduce the loan balance but think about traditional mortgages. Traditional mortgage borrowers with substantial equity in their property who find themselves delinquent in their payments are the most likely to be foreclosed on. The lenders know they stand to recoup their security position quickly in the property.

Which is worse? Making mortgage payments for many years only to lose your home in foreclosure or having an HECM slowly consume the equity while you have no monthly payments?

4. Only One Spouse on the Loan 

Unlike a traditional mortgage, the federally-insured reverse mortgage now provides protections to named eligible non-borrowing spouses after the oldest borrower has passed away. This allows the younger spouse to remain in the home without the loan being called due and payable during a deferral period.

No protections like this are available for traditional mortgage borrowers who may have left off their spouse from the title for legal or personal reasons. In such circumstances the surviving spouse would need to refinance, sell the home, or payoff the traditional mortgage or face foreclosure.

Once again, the HECM stands out and has more protections in place to help mitigate the risk.

THE BOTTOM LINE

There is a lot of misinformation out there coming from “experts” and members of the media who seem to focus on the HECM thanks to its non-traditional design and the protected class it serves.

Yes, there are risks with reverse mortgages but there are with traditional mortgages as well and with an HECM, most can be avoided.

More Safeguards For Reverse Mortgages = Even More Peace Of Mind

No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”- Charles Dickens

ADDITIONAL CONSUMER SAFEGUARDS FOR REVERSE MORTGAGES

Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECMs) are the most common and most popular type of reverse mortgages. HECMs are backed and insured by the FHA to reduce borrower risk, and serve as a useful financial tool for many individuals looking to supplement their retirement income.

Now even more structured with the borrower in mind, the HECM loan is designed to help borrowers, age 62+, convert some of their home equity into cash – so they can live more comfortably and with greater financial independence.

Built into this strategic financial tool are important, recent safeguards for additional security:

  • Tightened lending limit helps borrowers preserve revenue steam for better long-term money management;
  • The annual mortgage insurance premiums borrowers are required to pay over the course of their loans has dropped from 1.25% to 0.5%;
  • The initial MIP required has increased to 2% for all borrowers. However, this represents a reduction for borrowers who take out larger reverse mortgages and were paying a 2.5 percent upfront premium.

Additional Previous Changes for Borrower Security:

  • Updated non-borrowing spouse protections;
  • Financial assessment helps determine if borrowers are willing and able to meet financial obligations;
  • LESA – Life expectancy set asides use HECM proceeds to pay taxes and insurance.
EXISTING PROTECTIONS YOU CAN ALWAYS RELY ON 

No Monthly Mortgage Payments
A reverse mortgage does not have to be repaid until you sell, move or no longer live in your home.

No Surprise Costs
During the application process, you’ll receive a clear and detailed breakdown of all fees and closing costs, including the total loan costs over the projected life of the loan.

Asset Protection
HECMs are non-recourse loans. After the loan is repaid, any remaining equity belongs to you or your heirs. This means that you can never owe more than the value of your home at the time you or your heirs sell your home to repay your reverse mortgage.

With a HECM, the reverse mortgage debt may be satisfied by selling the home to pay the lesser of the mortgage balance or 95% of the current appraised value of the home.

Independent Counseling
To ensure that you understand all aspects of a reverse mortgage, you’re required to have a counseling session with an independent counselor who’s approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Limitation On Fees
Origination fees are regulated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and cannot exceed HUD limits. In addition, origination fees and closing costs may be financed as part of the reverse mortgage, so out-of-pocket expenses can be minimal.

No Prepayment Penalty
Although a HECM loan is not due until the borrower permanently vacates the home, it can be paid off at any time, with no additional fees.

FHA-Insured
Insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to protect lenders and borrowers alike. This insurance guarantees you will receive your loan proceeds as agreed upon with the lender at the closing of the loan.

Are Your Retirement Ready?

Please think about your legacy, because you are writing it every day.”- Gary Vaynerchuk

WHAT’S YOUR RETIREMENT READINESS QUOTIENT?   

Retirement is a significant stage in life that can cause a number of different emotions depending on how well prepared you are, not only financially but mentally.

Some of my clients have a very clear picture of their retirement and have been working towards achieving their vision for many years while others are not there yet emotionally, mentally or financially to make the transition.

Gene Cohen, M.D., Ph.D., author of The Mature Mind: The Positive Power of the Aging Brain, has developed a 12-point questionnaire to help you determine your Retirement Readiness Quotient (RQ).

Cohen states, “If you have not given much thought to any of these questions, or if you do not have many good answers for them, you are probably not well prepared for retirement.” 

12 Questions to Ask Yourself About Retirement from Gene Cohen: 

1) Why are you thinking about retirement now? (Give yourself 1 point for a clear answer, 0 points if your reasoning seems fuzzy or you are simply uncertain.) Significance: Your reasons for retirement should be sound and not impulsive or the result of inadequate planning. 

2) Do you really want to retire? (1 point if yes, 0 if no.) Significance: This seemingly simple question is an excellent predictor of success in the transition to retirement. It asks you to consider your deepest desires and motivations, not just what you “think” you ought to do or what other people expect you to do.

3) What do your family and friends say about you retiring? (1 point if they think you’re doing the right thing.) Significance: Feedback from those who know you well can be invaluable when you’re contemplating retirement. Do they think it’s a good decision? Do they think you have thought it out well and prepared sufficiently for it? 

4) Have you considered whether you want a complete or partial retirement? Have you considered part-time or temporary work, or even a less-than-fulltime small business venture (emphasis on “considered”)? (1 point if you’ve considered the options, even if you choose full retirement.) Significance: If you are not entirely sure about retirement or are concerned about finances, then phased, or partial retirement is an important option to consider. 

5) Are your finances sufficient to carry you through your retirement years while continuing to enjoy your current lifestyle? (1 point if yes to both parts of question; 0 if no to either part.) Significance: If you answered no, you clearly have further financial planning to do. 

6) Have you attended a retirement preparation program or seminar focused on financial planning? (1 point if yes, 0 if no.) Significance: Such programs can help you plan spending, predict future income, and anticipate future needs. A bewildering number of options exist, and getting some objective advice is invaluable. 

7) What gives you a sense of meaning and purpose in life? (1 point if when you write it down and read it aloud you feel you’ve adequately identified what gives you a sense of meaning and purpose; 0 points if your reasoning seems fuzzy or you are simply uncertain.) Significance: A lack of clarity about your core values and what aspects of life hold meaning for you is often associated with a less fulfilling retirement.

8) What specific types of activities and experiences are important and fulfilling for you? (1 point if your description of how your plans relate to what is important to you makes sense, or 1 point if someone who is reliable and knows you considers your answer good and clear.) Significance: This is a more specific version of question 7. Your answers here provide a window on how well you really know your mind and how well you have planned how to accomplish what is important to you. 

9) Have you attended a retirement preparation program or seminar focused on social planning (e.g., community activities and interpersonal endeavors)? (1 point if yes, 0 if no.) Significance: Prospective retirees often fail to adequately plan how they will actually spend their time in retirement. Floundering in these areas can lead to frustration and a disappointing retirement life.

10) Have you developed outside interests, hobbies, volunteer activities, or areas of new learning? (1 point if yes, 0 if no.) Significance: Developing new interests can improve the quality of retirement life, and engaging in challenging new endeavors can present new opportunities for personal mastery and empowerment that are associated with positive health outcomes. 

11) Have you planned new activities that would allow you to interact with people on a regular basis and that offer chances to form new friendships? (1 point if yes, 0 if no.) Significance: Making new friends is often more difficult in retirement, and loneliness is associated with a host of mental and physical ills.

12) During retirement, will making only a modest contribution in volunteer activities be sufficient for you? (1 point if yes, 0 if no.) Significance: People who have had satisfying and personally meaningful careers can find the transition to retirement difficult if they do not plan for other ways to make a difference. Such people might consider a phased retirement so they can continue with fulfilling work while starting their retirement.

SCORING
  • 12 points: You’re in position for a great retirement!
  • 10-11 points: Your retirement will likely be highly satisfying.
  • 8-9 points: Your retirement could have problems that are likely fixable.
  • 6-7 points: You could be challenged by ambivalent feelings about retirement, requiring a solid effort to bring your situation up a notch.
  • 3-5 points: You are potentially in the trouble zone where your retirement might not work well unless you make a major effort to get it on track.
GETTING RETIREMENT READY WITH A REVERSE MORTGAGE 

You’re not alone if your RQ is not where you want it to be or is lower than expected. Fortunately there are many experts, resources and tools out there that can help and one effective financial solution is a reverse mortgage.

Reverse mortgages have undergone several major changes for the better over the years, which has led many financial professionals to take note. Now when used as a part of a coordinated retirement planning strategy, a reverse mortgage can improve the overall success rate of your portfolio and help make your vision for retirement a reality.

Improve Your Retirement Income Plan With HomeSafe

“The world is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper .”- W.B. Yeats 

RETIRE WELL WITH THE HOMESAFE® JUMBO FINANCIAL TOOL 

HOMESAFE: The Financial Tool Designed for Owners of High-Value Homes  

If you’re 62 or older, now you can access even more of your home’s equity and put it to work wherever you want—giving you more control over your assets, investments and cash flow.

HomeSafe loan proceeds are tax-free with a competitive fixed interest rate that’s lower than you might expect. You can use your proceeds as you choose to fund a more comfortable and secure retirement.

The HomeSafe reverse mortgage offers these great advantages:

  • Loan amounts up to $4 million – significantly higher than a HECM allows
  • No mortgage insurance premium
  • Condominiums appraised at $500,000 or more do not require FHA approval

With HomeSafe you have a lot of flexibility with how you use your proceeds in order to fund your retirement and enjoy your golden years:

  • Pay off existing mortgage debt, have no monthly mortgage payments and improve your cash flow
  • Buy a house or condo in an upscale area or active lifestyle community
  • Pay for home improvements
  • Cover medical or in-home care expenses
  • Refinance an existing reverse mortgage to access a larger pool of funds
MAXIMIZE YOUR HOME EQUITY

If your goal is to supplement retirement income, a HomeSafe reverse mortgage could provide the key to unlock the equity value in your home.

Ideal for homes appraised higher than the HECM loan limit allows, homeowners age 62 and older can potentially access hundreds of thousands of dollars more of their equity than the FHA HECM loan currently offers.

Would you like to learn more about the HomeSafe jumbo reverse mortgage and how it may help you secure long-term financial independence? 

Contact me to have a conversation or to set up a complimentary personal assessment.

Reverse Mortgage Insights from Industry Expert, Ted Butler

“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.
– Eleanor Roosevelt

A CONVERSATION WITH TED BUTLER 

HECM World is one of my go-to resources for keeping up to date on trends and news in the reverse mortgage world. I’m a big fan of their ReverseTalk video series and in a recent episode they featured a great conversation with industry expert, Ted Butler.

Like a lot of financial services professionals I’ve run into, Ted was once skeptical of reverse mortgages but is now an advocate for this strategic financial tool.

I couldn’t agree more with his belief that today’s reverse mortgage is one of the most effective financial solutions available to help clients address the challenge of a guaranteed income in retirement.

Similar to Ted, I’ve talked quite a bit in the past about the power of leveraging your home equity with a reverse mortgage. Reverse mortgages can give you safe access to this significant financial asset in order to provide peace of mind in your retirement years.

Click on the image below to watch the video.

Ted has become a strong voice for reverse mortgages and is dedicated to educating homeowners and financial advisors on the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) and how it can be a powerful retirement planning tool.

A New Solution to the Senior Care Challenge

“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed .”- Maya Angelou

THE REVERSE MORTGAGE STANDBY LINE OF CREDIT  

When it comes to using a reverse mortgage in retirement planning, there are several strategies that make the standby line of credit feature a “must have” for seniors. In particular, the Reverse Mortgage Standby Line of Credit can be a great solution to help create a senior care funding strategy.

Here are some key considerations for a senior care funding strategy and the standby line of credit:

  • In-home care services can reduce the need for expensive nursing homes and improve quality of care.
  • Services can gradually be ramped up as needed—from help with household chores, to 24-hour nursing care.
  • A Reverse Mortgage Standby Line of Credit can be set up in advance—before care is needed—so funding is at-the-ready.
  • Unlike a traditional Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC), the unused portion of the reverse mortgage line of credit grows over time, allowing access to more funds as the borrower ages. And the line cannot be reduced or revoked by the lender, as long as the terms of the loan are met — ensuring the funds will be there when needed.
  • There are no monthly mortgage payments for as long as you live in your home. Homeowners do remain responsible for keeping current with property taxes, required insurance and home maintenance.
  • Proceeds are tax-free (this is not tax advice so please consult a tax professional)
A Reverse Mortgage Standby Line of Credit is a smart retirement funding tool that leverages the power of an important asset – your home equity – to help make sure you’ll be in the position to receive the care you need and continue to live in your own home.
THE NUMBERS 
  • Over 97% of Americans make no advance financial plans for senior care needs. Yet 70% will need some form of senior care in their lifetime.
  • Most incorrectly believe their medical insurance will pay for care.
  • Annual costs start at approximately $30,000 for in-home care and range up to $94,000 for nursing home care.

Using Your Home Equity as a Retirement Asset

“The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.” – H. Jackson Brown Jr.

REVERSE MORTGAGE BASICS 

Why You Should Consider a Reverse Mortgage  

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about the basics of a reverse mortgage and how this versatile retirement financial tool can help provide peace of mind in your golden years.

Reverse mortgages are becoming increasingly recognized by homeowners and financial advisors as a smart and safe way to access an important retirement asset: your home equity.

Most reverse mortgages are government-insured Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECMs). You will often hear the terms used interchangeably. Available exclusively to people age 62 and older, a reverse mortgage could help you live more comfortably and be more financially prepared for the future.

For example, you can use a reverse mortgage to >>

  • Avoid selling investments at a loss in a “down” market.
  • Establish a “stand-by” line of credit that you can tap into as needed. Unlike a traditional Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC), a reverse mortgage line of credit cannot be reduced or revoked, as long as the terms of the loan are met. And the unused line of credit grows over time.
  • Supplement retirement income with tax-free funds.
  • Pay for medical or long-term care costs.
  • Finance the purchase of a more suitable home, with no monthly mortgage payments. 

To be eligible for a reverse mortgage, you must:

  • Be at least 62 years old
  • Live in the home as your primary residence
  • Not be delinquent on any federal debt
  • Participate in a consumer information session held be an independent counselor who’s approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

Some of the Key Benefits of a Reverse Mortgage 

  • The ability to use your home equity to help you maintain a more comfortable standard of living, in your own home.
  • Tax-free loan proceeds you can use in multiple ways.
  • Great flexibility. You can choose to take your proceeds as a line of credit; monthly advances for a set period of time; a monthly stream of funds for as long as you live in your home; a lump sum; or a combination of these options.
  • No monthly mortgage payments. If you qualify and have an existing mortgage, home equity loan or any other type of debt, you can pay it off and reduce your monthly expenses. Or, if you own your home free-and-clear, you can get the additional funds you need with no monthly mortgage payments.

One thing to note is that as the homeowner, you remain responsible for paying property taxes, homeowner’s insurance and homeowner’s association dues if applicable.

HOW MUCH MONEY CAN YOU GET? 

This depends upon a number of factors including your age, your home’s current appraised market value, the amount of equity, FHA lending limits, the current interest rate, and the reverse mortgage product and payment option you choose. If you have an existing mortgage, your reverse mortgage will first be used to pay that off.

Would you like to learn more about reverse mortgages and get a quote that’s tailored to your specific needs and situation? Contact me to have a conversation or to set up a complimentary personal assessment.

The Emotional Challenges of Decluttering

The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.– Thich Nhat Hanh 

DECLUTTERING YOUR HOME: THE EMOTIONAL CHALLENGES

There comes a time when it’s necessary to declutter your home and go through the process of sorting your belongings and parting with those that aren’t necessary.

If you are planning on aging in place, it can be very good to streamline your surroundings and organize your home in a way that you can:

  1. Have easy access to the things you need.
  2. Enjoy memories stored up in photos, letters and mementos.
  3. Find critical things quickly and within a safe reach.
  4. More easily navigate through your home, especially if you have any mobility issues.

For seniors moving into a smaller, more manageable space, decluttering is an inevitable step as you prepare for this next stage of life in your new right-sized home.

Decluttering can be an extremely satisfying experience but also one that takes time and causes you to deal with a variety of different emotions.

COMMON EMOTIONAL CHALLENGES WHEN DECLUTTERING

1. Fear you might regret getting rid of a certain item
Holding onto a particular item due to the fear that you might need it someday is probably something most of us have experienced.

It could be an out-of-style pair of pants, workout equipment that you don’t use anymore or tools you haven’t looked at in ages. These are typically the things that end up sitting at the back of your closet, in your basement or in your garage untouched for more years that you can remember.

The key is not to let excess belongings hold you back from creating the ideal atmosphere and living situation in your home. You should critically assess whether you actually need or envision needing a particular item in the future and if the answer is no, it’s time to part with it.

2. Fear you could lose out on something valuable 
Fortunately there is eBay and appraisers to help address this fear. Simply look up the item on eBay to get a realistic idea of the current market value. If it is something you believe could be very valuable, consider having it appraised. From there you can decide whether you prefer to sell or hold onto the item.

3. Feelings of guilt due to getting rid of a gift or something inherited 
I’m the first to admit that it can be challenging to get rid of something that was a gift, was handed down to me or was inherited from a family member.

Family dynamics and nostalgia definitely can come into play, leading to feelings of guilt. I’ve found it helps to take your emotions out of the process and assess these items with the goal of creating a cleaner, organized and more functional home in mind.

4. Concerns about where the item might end up 
Some people might feel guilty letting go of something that once had value to them without knowing where it will end up and whether it will ultimately be appreciated.

Try to think of it this way – is it better for that item to sit in the back of your closet untouched or to be donated where there is the chance it will go to someone who needs it more?

5. Feelings of nostalgia that make it difficult to decide whether to part with a certain item 
This is one of the biggest challenges when trying to declutter. Sentimental memorabilia like old books, souvenirs, childhood toys, etc. can be difficult to part with and for good reason. These items can have an emotional hold over you.

There is no clear solution to overcome this but here are a few things to consider that might help. Getting rid of sentimental items does not mean you’re devaluing that time of your life. Your memories aren’t in physical objects. You can still hold onto and celebrate those memories and moments even if you part with these sentimental items.

However if you love a particular piece and it brings you joy, by all means keep it.

6. Feeling overwhelmed 
Feeling overwhelmed when thinking about decluttering and figuring out where to start is quite common. It can be challenging to get motivated if you do not have a clear plan for how to sort and decide what to get rid of and what to keep.

You can always pick up a copy of one of Marie Kondo’s books or watch her show “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” on Netlfix for some inspiration and guidance.

For larger decluttering projects, you might consider hiring a professional home organizer. There are a number of services out there that specialize in helping seniors and their families downsize, declutter, sort and organize.

Decluttering can be a time-consuming and emotional task but if you have clear goals and are prepared for the various emotions you might face, it will be more manageable and less challenging.

Planning for Your Golden Years

“Faith and fear both demand you believe in something you cannot see. You choose.– Bob Proctor

WHEN SHOULD YOU SEEK ADVICE 

There are many important decisions to think about for your later years in life and at times it can seem overwhelming. The good news is that there is no lack of expert resources you can tap into so you’ll be more prepared and at ease leading up to and during retirement.

Having solid, good information is crucial to making sound decisions and minimizing risk and stress.

One of my favorite writers at HECM World, Amara Rose, identified 4 areas where seniors should seek advice in advance in her most recent article.

#1. AGING IN PLACE
I’ve talked about this a great deal and it’s been reported in numerous studies but more and more Americans are wanting to age in place. With aging in place comes the question of caregiving and most likely in-home assistance. Even a fit, healthy senior needs to plan for this in the case they live to be a ripe old age, take a fall or suffer from an unexpected illness and require temporary or longer-term assistance.

According to Genworth Financial, $45,760 is the average annual cost for a home health aide.

This is where a certified financial planner (CFP) could be a strategic resource for seniors and family members to work together and put a plan in place ahead of time.

#2. RETIREMENT PLANNING
My clients can have very different visions for their retirement years but most are planning for an active lifestyle, which is in alignment with the majority of the 76 million Boomer retirees and soon-to-be retirees out there. Whatever lifestyle you’re envisioning, you’ll need to make sure your bank accounts and any other financial resources will be able to support it.

One of the challenges in planning for your golden years is pinpointing exactly what your expenses in retirement will look like. A CFP and an accountant/CPA are two potential resources. It’s always ideal to consult these experts sooner than later so you can get an understanding of what’s required to achieve positive outcomes in retirement and start on the right path.

#3. END-OF-LIFE CARE  
Discussing end-of-life care is never easy but necessary. Questions like do you want palliative and hospice care, a DNR (do-not-resuscitate) order or every possible medical intervention in the case of serious illness should be answered and put in writing.

Speaking with your physician or another trusted healthcare professional to discuss options for end-of-life care so you have the facts and make informed decisions is crucial. Then consult an Elder Law and Special Needs Law attorney to ensure your long-term care and end-of-life care plans are official and complete.

#4. ESTATE PLANNING & ASSET PROTECTION  
Estate planning is incredibly important to making sure your property and assets end up in the place you want and the decisions in your absence will be made by the people you trust and reflect your wishes. Prudent planning will also provide protection for your loved ones and ideally prevent potential messes when you’re gone.

Estate planning can involve the services of a variety of professionals, such as an Elder Law or Special Needs Law attorney, your accountant, financial planner, life insurance advisor, banker and broker.

Getting all of your ducks in a row for your years later on in life doesn’t have to be complicated if you leverage the many resources out there. With some skillful planning with the proper experts, you can be fully prepared financially, emotionally and mentally.

Build Up Your Nest Egg with a Reverse Mortgage

“Celebrate what you want to see more of.” – Tom Peters

ADDING A REVERSE MORTGAGE TO YOUR NEST EGG STRATEGY 

Having a healthy nest egg is one of the keys to financial stability in your golden years but life isn’t always predictable and things could come up that put your savings at risk (illness, job loss, market collapse, etc.).

The cost of living and retirement has also changed and a $1 million nest egg won’t get you as far as let’s say 10 years ago.

Some financial experts recommend seniors pay off their mortgage and rent in retirement as a potential solution.

Yes. Housing can be a big expense in retirement years but it’s not the only one. According to a recent report from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, by the age of 90 “heath care expenses account for more than 20 percent of the households’ entire budget.”

The selling and buying solution also doesn’t take into consideration two things:

  1. More and more older American prefer to age in place and live out their golden years in the comfort of their own home.
  2. By selling and renting seniors could be giving up one of their biggest assets, home equity.

BUILDING YOUR NEST EGG
WITH A REVERSE MORTGAGE

A reverse mortgage is often overlooked but can be a strategic addition to a retirement plan to help maintain and ideally grow your nest egg – in particular the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage’s line-of-credit feature.

The line of credit provides senior homeowners with money they can tap into later on in life, and the credit grows at a hate higher than that of a conservative investment portfolio. Another advantage is there are no monthly mortgage payments with an HECM.

All retirement woes and financial challenges will not necessarily be solved with a reverse mortgage but it is a potential solution for long-term savings shortfalls and combined with other methods, can lead to more financial peace of mind in your retirement years.

Are Self-Driving Cars The Answer To Seniors’ Mobility Challenges?

“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” – Stephen Hawking

WILL SENIORS LEAD THE SELF-DRIVING REVOLUTION? Seniors Lead the Self-Driving Revolution? 

Older Drivers Could be the First to Embrace Self-Driving Cars

Autonomous cars have not been an easy sell and not everyone is onboard with the idea. A lot of people are hestitant to hop into a driverless car and they are most likely many years away from becoming the norm.

However, seniors might just become the early adopters of the emerging autonomous vehicles. These vehicles could be the answer to aging drivers’ diminished capacity to drive safely behind the wheel and the lack of transportation alternatives out there.

Many seniors rely on friends and family to drive them where they need to be – from medical appointments to grocery shopping or a visit to the local library. There are Uber and Lyft but these services are not available everywhere.

This puts seniors, in particular those wanting to age in place, in an ideal position to experiment with something new that could ultimately make their lives easier and give them more autonomy. 

The spectrum of vehicles that will eventually be introduced into the market will provide options to older drivers so they can consider the type that suits them best.

There will also be different levels of autonomy to choose from to meet the varying needs of seniors.

The Numbers & Geography 

  • A 2014 report from the U.S. Census Bureau projected the number of people age 65+ to grow to close to 84 million by 2050, up from about 43 million in 2012.
  • Around 20% of baby boomers run the risk of being left without any family to transport them wherever it is that they need to go.
  • By 2050, surviving baby boomers will be over the age of 85.
  • Many experts estimate 2030 to 2050 as the years when fully autonomous vehicles will reach consumers.
  • According to the New York Times roughly 70 percent of adults over the age of 50 live in the suburbs, and 16 million age 65 or older live in communities basically with no public transportation.
All of these factors could make seniors a prime target for driverless cars.

With that said, there’s still no knowing how or if this group will embrace self-driving cars. It will surely a shift in mindset but could present a compelling alternative to being homebound.

Boomers Facing Retirement With Less Savings & More Debt

“Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.– Mother Teresa  

BABY BOOMERS RETIRING WITH LESS SAVINGS & MORE MORTGAGE DEBT 

It’s no surprise that life expectancy is continuing to get higher today and baby boomers are expected to live longer than previous generations.

Experts predict a record number of boomers will be entering retirement in the near future and according to a report by the Stanford Center on Longevity entitled “Seeing Our Way to Financial Security in the Age of Increased Longevity”, they are heading into this next phase of life with less savings and more debt.

The report highlighted an increase in mortgage debt among older homeowners as a big concern pointing to data showing that in 2012, one-third of homeowners 65+ years of age were still paying off a mortgage – up from less than a quarter of homeowners in 1998. The amount owed on a mortgage has also nearly doubled from $44,000 to $82,000.

The report states:

 “Considering the vast size of the Boomer population, increased life expectancy, and the rate at which today’s Boomers are retiring, being ill-prepared for retirement has profound implications for the overall well-being of individuals, families, and society today and for generations to come.” 

But it’s not all bad news. Baby boomers have options for supplementing their retirement income and better preparing themselves for what should be their golden years. Leveraging home equity could be an ideal solution.

HOME EQUITY & RETIREMENT
As mentioned in my last email, senior housing wealth is at an all-time high, which presents a real opportunity for older homeowners.

For many people home equity represents the largest component of personal wealth and should be seen as an asset to consider in a comprehensive financial plan. Reverse mortgages can be a strategic way to tap into your home equity, pay off an existing mortgage and increase your retirement income.

Reminder of how a reverse mortgage mortgage works: 

  • Reverse mortgages are loans for people 62+ years of age that allow you to borrow against home equity without being required to pay a monthly mortgage payment.
  • You can continue to live in the comfort of your home.
  • Some of the equity in your home is first used to pay off any existing mortgages, and the remaining loan amount is converted to non-taxed cash that you may receive in a lump sum, a monthly disbursement, or a line of credit.

Senior Housing Wealth Hits an All-Time High

“There are no limits to what you can accomplish, except the limits you place on your thinking.
– Brian Tracy

The Highest Amount of Tappable Home Equity For Seniors Since 2000 

According to the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association’s quarterly release of the NRMLA/RiskSpan Reverse Mortgage Market Index (RMMI), homeowners 62+ years of age have now amassed $6.97 trillion in home equity – with a growth of 1.4% over the 3rd quarter of 2018. And this trend shows no signs of slowing down.

The NRMLA RMMI hit 249.37, its highest mark since 2000 in Q2 with the NRMLA noting the increase was mainly driven by an estimated 1.7 percent increase ($143 billion) in senior home values, which was offset by a 0.8 percent or $12.8 billion increase of senior-held mortgage debt.

– HOME EQUITY –
ONE OF THE GREATEST ASSETS FOR SENIORS

“At a time when we’re seeing stock market volatility and the potential for a mild recession in the near future, it’s the perfect time for families to gather and take stock of their retirement resources and make necessary adjustments to ensure continued financial security,” said NRMLA President and CEO Peter Bell. “Housing wealth should be considered with other financial assets.”

For many homeowners, the equity they have built up in their home is their largest financial asset. There are a number of opportunities for senior homeowners to responsibly leverage their home equity and realize their vision for their retirement years.

More than a million senior homeowners have used a reverse mortgage to supplement retirement savings and age in place. This financial solution is a strategic way for older home owners, mostly retirees, who are no longer earning regular salaries but are spending down their savings, to access their home equity without having to increase their monthly expenses.