A Powerful But Often Underused Financial28 April 2017 Written by By Beth Miller-Rowe
Published in May 2017 Articles
That first episode came on me without warning.
I spent three hours writhing on my bedroom floor while undergoing horrible stomach pains. I was in a delirious state with painful flashes of light stabbing through my head.
I am a Michigan girl transplanted to California in 1982 after I graduated from college. I came out to visit my sister and, somehow, never went home. It is funny because it is now, in my 50’s, that I have discovered a renewed pride in being a Michigan girl. I enjoy going back to visit and remembering all those nuances that are unique to Michiganders (yes, that is what we call ourselves). We drink pop, use our hand as a map, play Euchre, and can drive 65 in the snow. My husband and I visited “Up North” this past fall specifically to see the fall colors. Michigan was voted the best fall color state even above the New England region. Who knew? It was gorgeous. If you ever get the chance, visit the Tunnel of Trees. You will be amazed! Stop by one of the local wineries, too. Even though I have lived 45 minutes from Napa for 37 years, I was impressed.
I spent the first part of my life in Atlanta, Georgia, and then my formative years in Michigan. I attended Michigan State, which was something of an anomaly since my dad was the Director of the School of Education at University of Michigan. I transferred to Drake University in Des Moines and graduated cum laude in 1982 with a dual degree in Economics and Business Administration. Following graduation, I packed my car and moved to California. Once I arrived in California, I landed a job in the mortgage business, selling traditional “forward” mortgages. I did forward mortgages for more than 25 years. At one point, in 1996, I took a careful look at reverse mortgages, but the market and the product were not quite right yet.
I continued in the traditional forward mortgage business until 2008 when the entire economy crashed down around all of us. I took advantage of the transition to think about the next phase of my career. Society was graying, members of the baby boomer generation were nearing retirement, and the time seemed right to give reverse mortgages a try. I learned that MetLife was the industry leader, and I very much wanted to work for Snoopy. I pursued it with a passion and was hired by MetLife’s Reverse Mortgage division in December 2008. I worked for MetLife until 2011 and was the number one rep in the country all three years.
My life changed dramatically when my dad contracted dementia with Lewy bodies. My dad and I were very close. He lived very close to me, and when my mom passed away, he and I spent a lot of time together. As Dad’s dementia progressed, he moved into a small care facility a couple of houses down from me and my kids, but I served as his primary care provider. I took care of doctor appointments, finances, shopping, communication, and, of course, being there with and for him. His condition continued to worsen and my MetLife position was placing heavy demands on my time, so I resigned in order to provide the any-time care that Dad required. Given the opportunity I would do it again and again. I cherish the time I got to spend with him before his passing in 2013.
After leaving MetLife, I still had 2 kids, 2 cats, 2 dogs and a mortgage. In order to survive, I started my own company - The Reverse Mortgage Group. This allowed me to set my own schedule and opened all kinds of doors for me professionally and personally.
The one thing that sets me apart is that I personally meet with all my clients and create a strategy to meet their needs. As is true in all things related to real estate the key is location, location, location. Being your local Reverse Mortgage Specialist allows me to sit down at your kitchen table and review your goals. Why are you considering a reverse mortgage? Will a reverse mortgage accomplish that goal for you? Doing business through phone calls and Fed Ex is not appropriate when dealing with your home, your security, and your future. This face to face meeting is one of the most important pieces of the reverse mortgage process. In my opinion, it will determine the success of the reverse mortgage in the short term but, more importantly, in the long run.
The reverse mortgage is becoming an increasingly more important tool for members of our graying American society.
A reverse mortgage provides seniors with access to equity in their home without having to incur a monthly payment as a means of creating financial security and improving their quality of life.
As a Reverse Mortgage Specialist I experience the joy of changing people’s lives every single day. I have too many stories to share them all but just a few who have touched my heart are too good not to share.
I had a client in Pleasant Hill who owned her home with no mortgage. Her daughter and grandson had to move in with her and they were struggling. They were living on just her Social Security and it was hard to even afford groceries. We did a reverse mortgage for her and it transformed her life. She called me the day the loan closed and she was in tears. She said all she wanted were Velcro shoes because she couldn’t bend over to tie her tennis shoes anymore. She told me that day that she was going to buy two pair of those Velcro shoes and was on her way to the grocery store to buy all the groceries they could possibly eat. It brought tears to my eyes as it really dawned on her how her life had changed.
I had another client who was power of attorney for her mom. She called me and said her mom owned her home and wanted to stay there until she died. Her mom had dementia just like my dad and I could so relate to all they both were going through. The daughter was devastated watching her mom deteriorate but she also had to be strong and continue to take care of business. It was only a few times I saw the tears well up in her eyes. I knew exactly what she was feeling. We got the loan done and her mom was able to stay in her home with 24/7 care. I will never forget what someone told me when I was taking care of my dad. They said “You need to be his daughter right now; let us take care of him.” It still brings tears to my eyes. I knew that my client was going to be able to be her mom’s daughter for the time she had left.
Another client of mine was a 90 year old woman who had raised 10 kids. She wanted to pay off all her credit cards, finish the painting on her home and have some money to enjoy her remaining years. She is my hero. There was no talk of death or limited time. She just spoke of being ready for some fun and no more worrying about bills and kids! Mind you, some of her “kids” were age eligible for a reverse mortgage but our kids are always our kids.
I once had a woman who needed major dental work and there was absolutely no way they could afford to have it done. They took out a reverse mortgage and she got a full set of implants. Her smile lit up the room when she was done.
I had a situation where a brother and a sister inherited a home from their parents. She wanted to stay in the family home and he wanted his inheritance so he could buy a home. We did a reverse mortgage for her and took out enough money to give him his inheritance. He has purchased his new home and she still lives in the home she grew up in. A win-win for everyone.
HOW IT WORKS
A reverse mortgage can take the form of a line of credit, a monthly disbursement, or a lump sum draw or any combination. Picture your financial resources as a big bucket of money that includes IRAs, 401Ks, pensions, Social Security, investments, equity in your home, and other sources. In many cases, home equity is the largest source of dollars in a homeowner’s bucket but right now it is not liquid. A reverse mortgage allows some of that equity to become liquid. Some people look to a traditional home equity line of credit to create cash flow. The problem is they often are thinking they will draw funds from a traditional home equity line of credit to make the payments on that same home equity line of credit balance. It can become a vicious cycle, ending up with the line of credit at its cap and now there is no money to make the payments but the payments continue to be due. Best case is that there is sufficient equity to do a reverse mortgage and payoff the line of credit; worst case is the home has to be sold.
Reverse mortgages aren’t for everybody. Homeowners are still responsible for such things as property taxes, property insurance, and any applicable HOA dues. If they cannot afford to pay the property charges, they could lose their home through foreclosure. A solution for some would be to sell the home, leverage the equity and utilize a reverse mortgage to purchase a more-affordable home.
Over the years my team has grown as demand for reverse mortgage has increased. We now have seven people in my office. Krissy Thinger, like me, is a Reverse Mortgage Specialist and works directly with our clients; Tiffany Clark, my amazing Executive Assistant, takes care of the day-to-day business; Kristine Lundgren, is my right hand person and my Senior Processor; Julie Huettl, is our Processor who keeps us on track day in and day out; and Charlie Rowe keeps our wheels turning smoothly. My oldest, Quinn Bornemann, helps with marketing, while attending Humboldt State. I love that he is part of my business as it lets us both continue to be a big part of each other’s lives even though he no longer lives under Mumsie’s wing.
I very much look forward to meeting with you for a stress-free, no obligation conversation in the comfort of your home. Call me today at 925-969-0380.
Beth Miller-Rowe NMLS #294774
BRE: 00950759/01215943 NMLS: 831612/1850
American Pacific Mortgage Corporation is licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Residential Mortgage Lending Act.