WSJ: Reverse Mortgage Can Help Buffer Against Market Swings

Reverse mortgages have a place in the conversation about retirement and market swings, prompted by the recent global selloff resulting from Chinese currency pressures. At least, that’s the message presented by Prof. Wade Pfau, of American College of Financial Services in Bryn Mawr, Pa., who was interviewed by the Wall Street Journal this week. 

Buying into market dips may be prudent for young investors, WSJ’s Money Beat blog notes, but for those approaching—or already in—retirement, the same rules do not apply.

“That’s not merely because stocks can take years to recover from losses and you have fewer years left as you age,” columnist Jason Zweig writes. “The problem is what retirement researchers call ‘sequence risk.’ The order in which stocks earn good or bad returns can matter—a lot.”

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If they rely solely on stock withdrawals, retirees can be forced to sell their investments during market downturns, which can take a toll on the value of their assets. 

That’s where a reverse mortgage could come in for some, Pfau tells the WSJ. 

“Another possibility, [he says], is to consider taking out a line of credit under the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage program guaranteed by the federal government, using it only during periods when the value of your stock portfolio is declining,” the article writes.

The strategy is one that some financial planners have touted in recent years as a “standby” strategy to weather market swings.

“This way, you reserve the right to borrow against your home at reasonably competitive rates,” WSJ writes. “But you would draw on the money only at times when you would otherwise have to lock in losses on your stock portfolio.”

Read the full article at WSJ, or a reprint at MSN.com.

Written by Elizabeth Ecker