by Peter Neuwirth, FSA, FCA; Barry H. Sacks, J.D., Ph.D.; and Stephen R. Sacks, Ph.D.
This paper examines the effect of using reverse mortgage credit lines to supplement retirement income by two types of retirees that have not been addressed in the previous literature: (1) those whose retirement savings are significantly below those of the mass affluent; and (2) those who are “house rich/cash poor.”
Results of this analysis demonstrate an important contrast with the results of the earlier literature; specifically, the greater percentages of home value, when coordinated with the retirement savings portfolio, resulted in substantially greater percentages of the portfolio that can be drawn.
This paper suggests a new alternative to the 4 percent rule that can guide planners and retirees toward an optimal cash withdrawal strategy. This new rule takes into account the total of the retiree’s retirement savings plus his or her home value.
The quantitative analysis in this paper uses the same spreadsheet models and strategies first presented in the Journal by Sacks and Sacks (2012). This paper builds on that work by extending the analysis to a broader range of retirees.
For homeowners over the age of 62, money may be tight due to a turbulent economy, greater longevity, and rising health care costs. And let us not forget the roller coaster ride called the housing market. One way to lessen the unexpected shocks that can jeopardize a comfortable retirement is to consider acquiring a reverse mortgage.
SOA research has shown that non-financial assets are the biggest part of retirement assets for many middle American families. The largest part of non-financial assets by far are home values. Housing is the largest item of spending for older Americans, and housing costs vary greatly by geographic area and type of housing. Reverse mortgages offer a way to use some of the value of the home while still living in it. The SOA post-retirement risk research has indicated that few retirees are taking into account home values in their retirement planning. The 2015 focus groups indicated low interest in reverse mortgages. People thinking about planning have been asking the question: how do we take housing values into account in retirement planning? What are the options? How do we evaluate them? This interview with Shelley Giordano provides information about reverse mortgages and how they are being used today.
A mortgage’s effective rate is applied not just to the loan balance, but also to the overall principal limit, which grows throughout the duration of the loan. How the effective rate is applied may sound technical, but it is an overwhelmingly important point to understand in order to grasp the value of opening a line of credit as early as possible.
With retirement, it is important to consider how declining cognitive skills associated with aging will make it increasingly difficult to self-manage your investment and withdrawal decisions. For households where one person handles money matters, surviving household members will be especially vulnerable to making mistakes when they outlive the family financial manager. Developing a strong relationship with a trusted financial planner can help with both of these matters.
Maintaining higher fixed costs in retirement increases exposure to sequence risk by requiring a higher withdrawal rate from remaining assets. Drawing from a reverse mortgage has the potential to mitigate this aspect of sequence risk by reducing the need for portfolio withdrawals at inopportune times.
An HECM line of credit provides a tool that can be used to mitigate the impacts of sequence of returns risk. Since 2012, this has been the focus of a series of research articles highlighting how the strategic use of a reverse mortgage can either preserve greater overall legacy wealth for a given spending goal, or can otherwise sustain a higher spending amount for longer in retirement.
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.