Most people think of reverse mortgages as the last-gasp attempt to stay in your house when you’ve run out of money in retirement. But even before they get into financial trouble, some seniors are using these loans as a financial planning tool, so they can leverage the equity in their homes on their own terms. That’s according to a recent op-ed written by MarketWatch Investing Columnist Beth Pinsker

In addition to discussing how reverse mortgages work, Pinsker interviewed 76-year-old retiree Paul Dandrea, who faced this decision a few years ago and decided to go with a reverse mortgage.

His goal was to buy in Arizona before selling his home in North Carolina. So he leveraged a house he knew he was going to end up selling, and shifted the assets into what he expects will be his long-term retirement home.  

“It’s a smart planning tool if you happen to get your hands on some equity, knowing you don’t have to pay it back until you’re ready to sell your home,” he says. 

Read the full op-ed.