Carole Walker, aged 79, and Janet Levasseur, aged 77, have been close friends for 32 years.  Both women live in Weymouth, MA, a town located south of Boston that’s the second-oldest settlement in Massachusetts, Plymouth being the oldest.

Carole worked in customer service for much of her professional career while Janet was a registered nurse.

In the spring of 2022, Carole read an article about reverse mortgages written by George Downey*, CRMP, owner and founder of Harbor Mortgage Solutions, Braintree, MA, and decided to schedule an appointment to learn more.

Janet was initially suspicious about reverse mortgages and tagged along to the appointment to make sure her friend Carole wasn’t being scammed.

Friends Carole Walker and Janet Levasseur

At the meeting, Carole and Janet listened to Downey explain how reverse mortgages worked and how one might fit into Carole’s retirement plan. The more Janet listened, the less skeptical she became.

In the end, both women got a reverse mortgage.

“I was living mostly on Social Security, but I had all this equity in my home,” says Carole. “I am using my reverse mortgage to pay my bills. Honestly, this is the best thing I’ve ever done. For the first time in my life, I feel financially stable.”

Carole lives in the Cape Cod-style home that she grew up in, while Janet lives in a condo by the water. Based on their homes’ appraised values, their ages, and interest rates at the time, both women chose to receive fixed monthly payments. Carole set up a plan to receive $2,000 every month for the next decade, while Janet gets that same amount for seven years.

Around the time she got the reverse mortgage, Janet had the misfortune of having some of her appliances break down. “I bought a new refrigerator and washer/dryer with some of my reverse mortgage proceeds,” says Janet. “I also bought a new sofa and chair for my living room. What money I don’t use each month, I will put into my savings.”

“I never had a traditional pension, but now that I have a reverse mortgage, my home is now my pension,” says Carole.

Janet concurs. “The reverse mortgage provides a financial cushion to pay bills or go out to eat.”

Both women stay active and spend part of their free time participating in a writer’s group that’s organized and run by a former reporter at The Patriot Ledger (Quincy, MA).

“Every week, we get a new assignment,” says Janet. “I’ve written poetry, fiction, my memoirs.” Adds Carole, “One of the last things I wrote about was ‘curiosity.’”  

Janet also loves to paint. “A lot of my paintings hang in Carole’s place,” she says with a laugh.

*Downey is now a regional senior vice president with The Federal Savings Bank.