AARP Webcast – A Balanced Report on Reverse Mortgages

The concept of reverse mortgages has received some unfavorable and negatively biased press and media coverage lately. In this conjecture with this, the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) has just released a webcast entitled “Reverse Mortgage: Rescue or Trap?” encouraging viewers to take a balanced,  informative and fair view of this type of loan.

Most newspaper articles or video segments that cover reverse mortgages usually devote only a couple of minutes or a couple of columns. The AARP has dedicated a full 26 minutes covering the key questions of consumer protection and abuse avoidance as it applies to the field of reverse mortgage loans.

The report is interview-styled and includes footage of a diverse group of people including two political representatives (a Democrat and a Republican), a reverse mortgage industry insider, a member of the media and a consumer advocate.

One AARP survey showed that 93% of the seniors who opted to take a reverse mortgage were glad they took one. But it still remains to be ensured that those who take this loan are protected from abuses.

Barney Frank, chairman of House Financial Services, was a member of the committee that improved the protection for people taking reverse mortgages as part of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. Peter Bell, president of the NRMLA (National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association) noted that abuses of the reverse mortgage system usually happen with newcomers coming into the business who use misleading sales tactics to convince seniors into taking reverse mortgages over other financial options available to them.

No industry is immune to some bad apples in the form of unethical or mis-guiding sales people. We have seen such elements in every profession that is in existence today, so it is no different in the case of the reverse mortgage industry also. Which is what is observed by a consumer advocate from the Center for Responsible Lending, that the loan itself is often not the problem - (the abuse by unscrupulous people is).

Abuse of seniors taking reverse mortgage can take many forms one of which is convincing seniors to invest their reverse mortgage proceeds into an annuity or other inappropriate financial product. The unscrupulous sales people prey on older adults who are desperate for help and are badly in need of financial aid.

Mary Beth Franklin, Senior Editor of Kiplinger Financial Magazine, observed that, due to the recent decline in the stock trade, some senior citizens have been using reverse mortgages as a bridge… “for five to ten years..” until the investments rebound and start to recover.