Wakefield, Rhode Island
Eleanor first heard about
reverse mortgages back in
the 90s, but at the time she
didn’t see the need to get
one. In 2007, she decided
that if she was going to
remodel her home, now might
be the time to reconsider.
Eleanor, 79, is very happy living in the
Cape Cod-style home built by her father 58 years ago.
When she married in 1961, it was
the perfect place to raise their son.
Wakeﬁeld is part of South Kingstown, a town in
southeast Rhode Island.
Its location on the Saugatucket River and the Old Post Road
– one of the earliest postal routes between New York and
Boston – attracted settlers in the early 18th century.
“I’ve lived in Wakeﬁeld my entire life,” says Eleanor. “The people
are friendly, everybody knows one another and the location is
perfect, right on the water.”
Through her home is solidly built, time has slowly taken its toll
on the roof, the fence surrounding the property, and various
rooms. If she was going to continue living there at this stage of
her life, the home would have to be refurbished.
She considered her options. Her husband passed away in 1979, so Eleanor has been more or less supporting herself for the past
She was a nursing supervisor at the local hospital for many years.
When the hospital fell on ﬁnancial hardship in the late 80s, Eleanor accepted early retirement and was promised cost of
living increases as part of her pension.
“Unfortunately, those cost of living increases never came and I
was offered only a small pension equal to 38 percent of my
annual salary,” she says. Although she’s living comfortably on the
pension and Social Security, there was no way she could afford
the home repairs from her savings.
“I didn’t want to get a home equity loan either, because I didn’t
want a monthly payment,” adds Eleanor.
Eleanor ﬁrst heard about reverse mortgages back in the 90s,
but at the time she didn’t see the need to get one. In 2007, she
decided that if she was going to remodel her home, now might
be the time to reconsider. She contacted Holly Knott, a reverse
mortgage specialist at The Washington Trust Company, to get
Her home was appraised for $380,000, which made her eligible
to receive $220,000 in reverse mortgage proceeds. She proceeded
with the loan and set up the funds in a line of credit.
So far, she has drawn down $60,000 to ﬁx the roof and fence
and refurbish her bathroom.
“Now when something goes kaput, it’s nice to know that I have
the funds to ﬁx it,” says Eleanor.
She admits that growing up a child in the Great Depression
has made her very frugal. “I could have received monthly
payments or a lump sum, but I’m not one to buy a fur coat or
take a vacation,” Eleanor adds. The most important thing right
now is maintaining her home, so she can continue living there
for as long as possible.
“I don’t think a reverse mortgage is right for everyone, but it was
for me,” she points out. What partially sold her on the product
was who she was working with. “I felt very safe with Holly, who
carefully explained things and was able to answer all my
questions. It’s very important that you have complete trust in