When Roberta, 72, retired from
her position as a housekeeper at New York
City’s Helmsley Hotel on 42nd Street, it was
time for a change. She had no children and
no family in New York since her husband
had passed away, so she decided to move to Miami to live near
her also widowed sister, 70-year-old Harriet. Roberta
sold her New York home and with the proceeds built a new one
in Miami’s Hadley Park neighborhood on 12th Avenue. It was an
ideal location, because the grocery store, doctor’s office, and park
were all very close by. Best of all, her sister lived within walking
distance on 47th Street, directly off of 12th Avenue. Currently, the
sisters are still living in these homes. That may have changed a few
years ago, but luckily, Roberta had a plan to help her sister.
Harriet could no longer afford the mortgage payments on
her home because chronic asthma had forced her to retire from
her career as a home healthcare provider. Roberta's biggest
asset was her newly built home for which she had paid cash and
therefore owned outright. She decided that she would take out
a reverse mortgage on her house and use some of the proceeds
to cover the closing costs for a reverse mortgage on her sister’s
nearby home. To this end, she began working with friendly and
knowledgeable Pamela Kirkpatrick of Allied Mortgage Group.
Everything went as planned, until Roberta discovered that
someone had tricked her.
According to Ms. Kirkpatrick, deception was the only logical
conclusion after she tried to uncover the truth behind a mysterious
mortgage note on Roberta's home, discovered while Ms.
Kirkpatrick was preparing the reverse mortgage transaction. “She
had owned her home free and clear, or so we thought, until we
found out about that bogus loan….[Roberta's alleged lender]
did produce disclosures that had her signatures on them…[but] I
think they just slipped in pieces of paper and had her sign
everything,” said Ms. Kirkpatrick. “It was a $9,000 note that [Roberta] had no knowledge of…it had accumulated interest, and
she had never received notification that it existed.” By the time the
note was discovered, it had accumulated over $3,000 in interest,
all without the alleged lender sending any bills to Roberta.
Ms. Kirkpatrick was doggedly determined to get to the bottom
of this dilemma, but the attorney for Roberta's alleged lender
stonewalled her at every turn. “I grilled the attorney that had
worked on [Roberta's home sale], and I said, ‘What are you
trying to pull here? This is wrong.’” They could not, however,
explain why they had never sent any notifications of payment
due and had never alerted credit bureaus about Roberta's
alleged failure to make payments.
The existence of this alleged debt came as distressing news to Roberta, but because time was of the essence for helping her sister, she chose not to pursue the matter further at that time.
She was focused on obtaining the cash needed to save her sister’s
home. “We made [Roberta] aware of the ‘unknown’ mortgage
and provided [her] with the ammunition to seek legal counsel,”
said Ms. Kirkpatrick. Ms. Bailey has not yet taken action against
the organization behind the mystery mortgage, but she is relieved
that it is no longer accumulating interest and that it did not
ultimately interfere with her plan to save her sister’s house. After
Ms. Kirkpatrick put a stop to growth of the alleged loan, Roberta’s HECM closed without delay. She received the funds
necessary to help her sister. “Everything was beautiful,” says Roberta of her experience with Ms. Kirkpatrick and Allied. Roberta was eligible for $105,161, and she chose to access it
through a line of credit. Her initial draw covered the $23,169 in
closing costs for the reverse mortgage on her sister's home.
Thanks to her sister, Harriet was able to go forward with Ms.
Kirkpatrick and Allied for the reverse mortgage on her house.
She was eligible for $130,000, which entirely paid off the
mortgage on her home and relieved the severely asthmatic retiree
of burdensome monthly mortgage payments. She is able to
remain living in her home on Miami’s 47th Street. Harriett
delights in visiting regularly with her five sons and eighteen
grandchildren as well as her sister. The sisters see each other
nearly every day and enjoy cooking and eating together, especially
barbeque in the style of their native Jamaica.
When asked what advice she would give to other seniors who are
considering a reverse mortgage, Roberta replies that reverse
mortgages are “very helpful…a good thing, especially if they
have family that needs help.” In this case, two sisters helped each
other—if it wasn’t for Roberta's reverse mortgage, Harriett may not have been able to stay in her home. If it hadn’t been for Harriet's dilemma, however, Roberta may not have learned
of the mysterious mortgage on her home until the accruing
interest reached an unmanageable amount. It is fortunate that
the sisters were able to use reverse mortgages as a tool to make a
profound positive impact on both of their lives.