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Bankrate: Reverse Mortgages Can Help Pay for Home Modifications

As aging in place becomes increasingly preferred among seniors, those who may have some trouble paying for necessary home modifications to make the process easier may find a possible path forward through a reverse mortgage loan. This is according to a new column appearing in Bankrate.

A majority of Americans over the age of 50 prefer to remain in their homes as they age, according to a 2018 survey conducted by AARP. Aging in place has taken on added importance in light of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, as nursing homes and assisted living facilities have struggled to contain the virus. For those interested in aging in place, making certain types of home modifications can help seniors to save money, according to DeDe Jones, a certified financial planner and managing director of Innovative Financial in Lakewood, Colo.

“What not everyone considers is that you can save money by doing the right home modifications,” says Jones to Bankrate. “The longer you can safely live in your home, the less you will need to pay for assisted living care, something that is not cheap.”

Examples of the best kinds of home modifications to facilitate aging in place include adding ramps to doorways, removal of trip hazards like carpeting or molding, having the master bedroom or suite on the first floor of the home, adding a bench and/or walk-in access to a shower, ample grab bars and railings, and easy-to-grip doorknobs.

In addition to typical financing options like a home equity loan, home equity line of credit (HELOC) or a specialty home improvement loan, a reverse mortgage can present a distinct opportunity to help a senior pay for necessary home modifications that will allow them to stay in their home.

“If you’re 62 or older and own your home, you may be eligible for a reverse mortgage, which converts a portion of your equity to cash while allowing you to continue living in the home,” writes Bankrate’s Jeanne Lee. “One of the most common kinds is a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM).”

In terms of the timing of home modifications, a lot of the necessity will depend on the senior’s specific situation, Lee writes.

“Getting older is a process, so it’s likely you’ll need to adapt your home more than once as your needs change,” the column reads. “You can add home modifications gradually or all at once, if finances allow. Sometimes it’s cost-effective to add aging-in-place home modifications as part of other planned renovations, such as building an addition or remodeling a kitchen.”

Seniors should also keep in mind that new assistive technologies are being developed and released all the time, so staying on top of additional and emerging ways in which aging in place could be made easier may be beneficial, Lee writes.

Read the article at Bankrate.