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More Seniors See Homes As Retirement Fund: Study

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An increasing number of seniors may be thinking about using use their homes to finance their retirement.

Only 25% of seniors ages 62 to 75 now say it is “very likely” or “somewhat likely” that they will pass their homes on to heirs, down from 42% in 2006, according to Financial Freedom, a subsidiary of IndyMac Bank F.S.B., Irvine, Cal., that sells reverse mortgages.

About 12% of survey participants said they already plan to sell their home to fund their retirement, and 38% said they would sell for that purpose if they had limited financial choices. Another 13% said they would use a reverse mortgage or other arrangement to use a portion of their home equity.

The researchers also asked about specific strategies for paying for retirement.

About 33% of the survey participants said they work part-time, and 4% said they would work full-time.

Roughly 14% said they would sell their home and move into a smaller one; 9% said they would sell their belongings; and 6% said they would take out a reverse mortgage.

Although many seniors said they wanted to avoid retiring in debt, 27% expect to have debt in retirement and 40% expect to have mortgage debt.

Researchers found that 59% of the seniors surveyed have more than $15,000 in non-mortgage debt, and 12% have more than $100,000 in non-mortgage debt.

About 17% of the seniors who have non-mortgage debt never expect to pay off the debt, the Financial Freedom researchers report.