Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Cameron sat in his favorite seat for the meeting, facing the window looking
out over the calm of Massachusetts Bay. It
was an important meeting, after all.
Cameron's father had died long before, and his mother could use some additional money. She was 82 at the time, she
didn't work, and, although she wasn't destitute, she did not have
the cash to shop, give to charity, or spend on her grandchildren,
all her favorite pastimes. She had plenty of equity in her last
remaining asset – her one-bedroom condo – but like many
Jewish mothers, she originally wanted to leave that to her
children Cameron and Rick.
The answer was a reverse mortgage. And looking back on that
meeting nine years ago sitting in his favorite chair in his mother's
living room, Cameron knows it was the right answer.
“The reverse mortgage gave her great security just to have that
money in the bank,” he says. “It gave her the security that she
can stay in the place as long as she is well and doesn't have to
move, the comfort to stay there, not to worry, to do
what she wants to do at this stage in her life.”
That condo, in fact, had about $200,000 of equity, Cameron
says. The family looked into a home equity loan, but they didn't
want to saddle their mom with new monthly payments. They
looked into selling the condo and setting up their mother in a
rental, but she wanted to remain in her home – she loves the
Back then, reverse mortgages were a novel idea. Cameron had
read in a local newspaper about a gentleman named Joe
DeMarkey with Bank of New York, who had recently started
offering reverse mortgages. Cameron called him.
“What is this all about?” Cameron recalls asking DeMarkey.
DeMarkey ﬁrst shared some background on reverse mortgages,
before suggesting the meeting.
“He was just terriﬁc,” Cameron says. “He explained it on the
phone and then he came over and explained to me and my
mother. I tend to ask a lot of question. It just seemed like, ‘this
doesn't work -- is this a pyramid scheme?' But the government
insurance was the key.
At one point during the meeting, Cameron's mother addressed the decision
head on. As Cameron describes it, his mom was “afraid that they were
going to come after her for hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
DeMarkey and Cameron tried to explain the concept of
mortgage insurance to her.
“But they will come after me,” she said.
“They won't, Mom,” said Cameron. “Trust us.”
After some explaining, she understood. She also trusted them.
From there, they moved on to the documentation, and DeMarkey
worked with them during the next two or three weeks to get
everything in order. Once more before the loan closed, the family
got together to go over the documents. They sat around the
dining room table this time, the papers fanned out before them.
“My older brother, he is just like me, reading all the documents,”
Cameron says. “We were looking for holes and we couldn't ﬁnd
any. We realized, this is too good and it is true.”
Soon enough, his mom received around $80,000.
What's interesting about Cameron's mother is that she's been a reverse mortgage
consumer for so many years. She'll be 91 this November, and
the money from the loan has yielded far more beneﬁts than the
family ever imagined.
“She loves shopping. She loves clothes. She gives more to charity.
She is not waving it around; she spends it on her grandchildren,”
Cameron says. “She has two great grandchildren now and she
puts away money toward their education. [The reverse mortgage]
is like a domino effect. Sixteen
years from now, her great
granddaughter will go to
college, in part, on the reverse
mortgage she got years before.
It has an everlasting effect, as
corny as that may sound.”
Actually, it sounds pretty good.