Skip to content

Loan of Last Resort

Is a reverse mortgage for you?

Editor's Note: On Sept. 30, 2013, a federal trial court in Washington, D.C., ruled that HUD violated federal law when it did not protect surviving spouses of holders of reverse mortgages.

Over 600,000 reverse mortgages have been issued since the program started in the late 1980's. Available to Americans 62 and older, the loans help homeowners tap into their home equity to get needed cash.  But since they come with high fees, complicated rules and mandatory financial counseling, are they a good fit for eligible consumers?

Sign up for the AARP Money Newsletter.

Inside E Street profiles two different borrowers with two different outcomes.  Bennie and Caroline Simmons took out a reverse mortgage to help them pay their bills and have been satisfied with it.  Being able to put some money into savings and fix up their home, they concede that the reverse mortgage has changed their lives in a positive way.  However, Robert Bennett has a different story to tell.  Bennett and his wife, Ofelia, replaced their traditional mortgage with reverse mortgage in December 2008.  Unfortunately, Mrs. Bennett passed away a month later.   And since the mortgage was processed under her name, the loan required Mr. Bennett to come up with the cash or risk foreclosure.

Peter Bell, President of the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association and Susanna Montezemolo, Vice President at the Center for Responsible Lending join Lark McCarthy to explain what reverse mortgages really are and the circumstances that may serve the borrowers positively and negatively.

This episode aired in July 2011.