One option in the broader category of using reverse mortgages for debt coordination for housing is the HECM for Purchase program, which was started in 2009 as a way to use a reverse mortgage to purchase a new home. The government saw enough people using a more costly and complicated two-step process—first obtaining a traditional mortgage to purchase the home and then using a reverse mortgage to pay off that mortgage—and sought to simplify the process and costs.
Now that we understand how reverse mortgages work, we can go into greater depth on the potential ways an HECM reverse mortgage can be used within a retirement income plan. For now, I want to focus on the big picture categories.
by Shaun Pfeiffer, Ph.D.; John Salter, Ph.D., CFP®, AIFA®; and Harold Evensky, CFP®, AIF®
This study investigates maximum real sustainable withdrawal rates (SWRs) for retirement plans that incorporate the use of standby reverse mortgages (SRMs). The SWR is defined as the maximum real withdrawal rate with a minimum 90 percent plan survival rate for a 30-year retirement horizon.
The SRM evaluated in this study is a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) reverse mortgage line of credit that is established at the beginning of retirement and is used for retirement income during bear markets. Outstanding loan balances are repaid from the Investment Portfolio (IP) in bull markets.
Monte Carlo simulations were used to estimate the success of the SRM strategy at various real withdrawal rates for a client who has a $500,000 investment nest egg and $250,000/$500,000 in home equity at the beginning of retirement. The $500,000 nest egg is split into a 60 percent stocks and 40 percent bonds IP and a six-month cash reserve.
Retirees who begin retirement in a low interest rate environment (2.3 percent yield on 10-year U.S. Treasury bond) with competitive lending terms and significant home equity relative to the IP stand to benefit the most from an SRM strategy. Interest rates and the size of the initial line of credit relative to the IP are the two factors that are shown to have a significant impact on the SWR for the SRM distribution strategy.
Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) endorsements rose by a figure of 12.7 percent to 2,901 loans for the month of April 2019. This figure is the first in several months not to be accompanied by the disruptive statistical noise generated by the 2018-19 partial federal government shutdown, according to the April HECM Lenders report compiled by Reverse Market Insight (RMI).