Life Health > Annuities

Selling your dream for cash: The unfortunate mainstreaming of the reverse mortgage (TIME)

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Home ownership is a source of pride and symbol achievement, but since the reverse mortgage came on the block in 1988, owning a home has also turned into a retirement backstop. More troubling is just how misunderstood the role of the reverse mortgage is to homeowners. A report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found 73% of reverse mortgages in 2011 were taken as a lump sum—up from 43% in 2008. Instead of using the reverse mortgage as annuity-like guaranteed income, much of the cash-out was used to pay off other debts. Many who take out a reverse mortgage fail to understand that they must stay current on upkeep, taxes and insurance. Nearly 10% of those who took out a reverse mortgage have fallen behind, putting them at risk of being evicted.