Liz White, 74, is a Colorado native and resident of Morrison, CO. Morrison (pictured below) is often referred to as the gateway to the Rockies, and it is near Denver. Red Rocks is a featured attraction. The beautiful park has soaring red rocks that tower against the blue sky. It also has a natural outdoor amphitheater that hosts some of the world’s most famous musicians.
Liz was a traveling sales representative for 30 years, selling lady’s lingerie to department stores in Colorado, Wyoming and the panhandle of Nebraska. “Initially, I worked for Sara Lee. Who knew that a giant food corporation sold lady’s intimate apparel? Many years later, that portion of Sara Lee was spun off and acquired by Hanes.”
She was successful and made good money. But after turning 62, Liz was laid off. She was in a precarious position with a mortgage payment and no healthcare or income stream.
“I wasn’t planning to retire until my early 70s,” says Liz, “but they, as companies often do, lay off the higher wage earners. They cleaned us off the company rolls.”
Liz wanted to wait until she turned 65 before claiming Social Security. She also had a modest 401(k). But depleting her retirement nest egg to pay off the remaining $116,000 mortgage balance would have caused a huge tax liability, and it would have eliminated a major source of income to help her live comfortably over the next several decades.
“I had to do something,” she says. “I wanted to keep my house, but the job market for my age was nil.”
Liz had heard about reverse mortgages from a radio show she listened to. She contacted Wells Fargo and was referred to Bruce Simmons. This was around 2010.
Simmons met with Liz and answered her questions. Liz also met with an independent housing counselor who provided additional details, as well as alternatives to getting a reverse mortgage. In the end, based on her circumstances, Liz proceeded with getting a reverse mortgage.
The home appraised in the low $200,000s. Liz paid off her existing mortgage with the reverse mortgage proceeds. “Eliminating my monthly mortgage payment was a huge relief,” Liz says.
Over the intervening years, as her home kept climbing in value, she refinanced her reverse mortgage in 2015 and again in January.
The first refinance allowed Liz to pay off her credit cards. On this last occasion, she established a line of credit to cover future home improvements. “My water heater is going to go at some point, and I want to paint the house and fix the driveway. These aren’t exciting things, but it’s important to maintain my home,” she says.
Each time she refinanced, Liz worked with Bruce, who left Wells Fargo to work for a family-owned mortgage company in downtown Denver.
“The reverse mortgage changed my life course,” Liz says. “It allowed my home to take care of me. Whoever came up with the concept of a reverse mortgage should get the Nobel Peace Prize.”