NU Online News Service, Jan. 6, 2004, 12:17 p.m. EST – Financial Freedom Senior Funding Corp., Irvine, Calif., says it originated about 13,800 reverse mortgage loans in 2003, up 93% from the total for 2002.[@@]

Financial Freedom, a unit of Lehman Brothers Inc., New York, handles about half of all U.S. reverse mortgage loans, the company says.

Reverse mortgages give homeowners over age 62 the ability to convert part of the equity in their homes into tax-free income. The borrowers get to stay in their homes as long as they make their property tax and insurance payments, but they are not able to pass their homes on to their children or other heirs.