My Parents Didn't Get a Reverse Mortgage, I Did

Wildwood, New Jersey

Roger remembers when he recommended a reverse mortgage to his parents after his father’s health began to decline. This was in the early Nineties, not long after the Federal Housing Administration introduced the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage.

“They weren’t interested,” says Roger. But he kept information on the program anyway, just in case. In 2005, he suggested to his ailing mother that she get a reverse mortgage to pay for the care she needed to remain at home.

Same response. No.

“My mother ended up dying in this house,” he said. “She was in her Nineties when her health started to decline, but she refused to go into hospice. She wanted to be live here until the very end.”

After his mother’s passing, Roger remained in the home his parents built in Wildwood, NJ in 1982, and got a reverse mortgage.

“It’s a small house, just 30 feet by 100 feet, but that’s typical for the area,” he explaines.

Roger grew up in New York City, but every summer his parents brought the family to Wildwood, a shore town up the boardwalk from Atlantic City. “I make sure my grandkids get to do the same thing,” he said.

After Roger graduated from high school, his family moved to Wildwood permanently. He went to college and then into the military for four years where he served as a second lieutenant. After leaving the service, Roger moved back to New York City and worked for a community development agency, then as a probation officer, followed by a stint at Grumman in the aerospace division. He retired as a program analyst for the Department of Health and Human Services.

“I’ve had a very interesting work life,” he chuckles. “My favorite job was in community action, working for a community development agency. This was the late Sixties. Money was coming into the inner city neighborhoods, like Harlem, for revitalization efforts. It was an exciting time.”

Even so, by the time he retired in 2001, Roger admits he hadn’t attained much in the way of retirement benefits. “By the time I retired, I was living on Social Security and a small pension,” he says. His motivation for getting a reverse mortgage was to completely remodel his parent’s home, and pay off all his debts. He contacted Wendy Whitaker of Princeton Mortgage Corporation and got a reverse mortgage in 2006.

“I installed a new roof, a new back porch…I basically remodeled the whole house,” notes Roger. “Then I paid off all my debts and back taxes. I helped out my family too. I called my brother and asked him how much credit card debt he owed. He told me. Then I paid that off too.”

He bought a new car with cash and has managed to do a little traveling as well.

“I’m not living a lavish life by any means, but I count myself lucky, because I’m retired and completely debt free,” says Roger. “Not many retirees can say the same thing.”