Less than 25% Plan to Use Home Equity to Finance Retirement says Study

Screen shot 2010-04-29 at 4.31.42 PM.jpgThe latest findings from the Del Webb 2010 Baby Boomer Survey show only 23% of those still working between the ages of 50 to 64 plan to use home equity to help finance retirement. The number dropped to 10% for 64 year old boomers who are no longer working said the study.

While the survey didn’t ask whether retirees would use a reverse mortgage to tap home equity, it’s clear many are continuing to work before turning to their home for help.

“Several decades ago, nearly 80 percent of our residents would be fully retired,” said Deborah Blake, Del Webb creative director. “These days many of our Del Webb communities have about 50 percent still engaged in the workforce. They’re either working part-time, starting new businesses or starting a new full-time career. They want to stay connected. It’s an important part of well-being to stay connected and productive.”

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As boomers no longer rely on social security as their primary source of income, many are being forced to delay retirement.  Of the people surveyed, those turning 64 found that the average anticipated retirement age has been extended by about four years. Whereas a majority of 50-year-olds polled in 1996 said they planned to retire at 63, those turning 50 today said they expect to retire around age 67.

Even if those surveyed said they don’t plan on taping home equity during retirement, a study from the Center for Retirement Research (CRR) at Boston College found protecting home equity may be a luxury that retirees can ill afford.  The CRR said that more than 60 percent of households are at risk of being financially unprepared.

“Even after the bursting of the housing bubble, our research shows that home equity remains a major financial asset and can significantly impact retirement security,” said Center Director Alicia H. Munnell. “The impact of home equity on the percent of households ‘at risk’ is greater than that of the recent stock market crash. How baby boomers and future generations decide to use their home equity could determine how well many fare in retirement.”

According to the brief, not tapping home equity through a reverse mortgage increases the percent of those at risk by about 10 percentage points, raising the National Retirement Risk Index in 2009 from 51 percent to 61 percent.

2010 Del Webb Baby Boomer Survey

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