Reverse Mortgages

Are they too good to be true?

The ads for reverse mortgages, aka Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECM), tout them as a way for older people to take the equity out of their homes so they have money to spend on other things they want or need. They’ve been effective — more than 1 million reverse mortgages have been sold since introduced in 1990. In one ad, Tom Selleck, a celebrity who is credible among older folks, begins by saying, “I know what you’re thinking. Some things are too good to be true.”


I’ve always been skeptical of such products. As my initial impression, based only on the most cursory information, they’re just another way for financial companies to take advantage of people who are not money-savvy and are possibly facing difficult times. In other words, perfect marks for a con.

So I decided to look into whether they are indeed too good to be true. Here’s what I’ve learned…

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