Fifty-six years later, and after 52 years of marriage, Ruth and Ralph remain as devoted to each other as they were as kids, raising three kids of their own—two daughters and one son—spending time with their ten grandkids and living all across the U.S., from Ohio to Boston to Florida, Illinois and finally settling in Mesa, Arizona.
While living in Florida, Ralph worked 17 years for the electric company, while Ruth worked with State Farm. After the kids had all graduated from high school, Ruth got Ralph a job with State Farm, which resulted in them moving to Bloomington, IL. Their youngest son Brad, who also works for State Farm, likewise resided in the Bloomington area.
When Ruth and Ralph Loftin met in their hometown of Cleveland, OH, they were 13 and 15, respectively. “Ruthie’s father was an explorer and a boy scout leader, and I joined his troop, and she was, well, she was additional,” muses Ralph, now 72. “I wasn’t allowed to date until I was 16, but the explorer group held dances and outings, so we had chaperones, mostly my parents,” adds Ruth, now 69. Ralph recalls fondly that Ruth’s mother didn’t care much for having him around, but after a while she finally threw up her hands and accepted the fact that he was going to be around for a very long time.
In July of 2018, when Brad was transferred to Mesa, AZ for work, he asked his parents to move too. With their oldest daughter, Janice, and her family in Grand Rapids, MI and their middle daughter, Dawn, whose husband is in the military, moving all over the world, Brad felt that as his parents aged, they would be better off being close to some family. Ruth and Ralph agreed that it would be a sensible move, seeing as how their closest family was now five hours away from them. And as Ruth jokingly puts it, “They have winter in Michigan, lots of snow. The climate in Arizona is much better for us. Though we never thought we’d be this far west, it’s an adventure.”
Both Ruth and Ralph retired from State Farm in June 2012, cashed in their unused vacation days and took a 12-day trip to Hawaii, Ruth’s dream trip, and then another week-long trip to Alaska in 2017, Ralph’s dream trip. Unfortunately, they are not able to travel much anymore, as Ralph struggles with health issues.
While Ruth and Ralph’s home in Illinois was a two-story condo, they decided that upon their move to Mesa, they would downsize to one story with a housing association that oversees the upkeep for them. Neither Ralph nor Brad wanted a home where they would have to maintain the grounds, and Ruth wanted something that was manageable for her on the inside. They ended up downsizing from 2,000 square feet to roughly 1,100 square feet with two bedrooms and two bathrooms.
As they began looking for a new home in Mesa, Ruth and Ralph didn’t want a reverse mortgage and initially planned on selling their Illinois home and getting a VA loan to cover the cost of the new condo. They set their price range at $200,000, but their realtor was having trouble finding something in their preferred area that fulfilled all of their requirements and was within their price range. So, the Loftin’s asked their realtor if she knew anyone in the area that could assist them with a mortgage. Fortunately for them, their realtor happened to be related to Brian Belluomini of Acrobat Financial Group LLC, and he was able to help the Loftin’s out.
Belluomini knew that the Loftin’s did not want a mortgage payment on their new home—the Illinois residence had no mortgage payment—so he suggested the HECM for Purchase. Initially they were hesitant to even consider it, Ralph explains, “It was hard for us to believe we could live in a home and not pay a mortgage, there had to be a catch. We were also concerned about passing away and leaving our children with the burden of paying for it.” But once they were educated on the power of the H4P, the shrewder option clearly became the one with no additional payment, no burden to their children and that allowed them to afford a nicer home in a nicer neighborhood. Thanks to the H4P, Ruth and Ralph don’t have a monthly payment—other than paying taxes and property charges—and were able to retain over $30,000 in their pockets from the Illinois sale.
Ruth says that while the VA loan would have been helpful, the application was online and even though they were able to speak with someone to ask questions, they prefer the one-on-one approach that Belluomini was able to provide. Additionally, with the H4P they were able to increase their price range another $50,000, allowing them to find a lovely condo in The Village at Apache Wells—a 55+ Community with a range of amenities, in a nice and safe neighborhood—which is only three miles from their son’s home.
Both Ralph and his son, Brad, were appreciative of Belluomini’s constant support and how he included Brad in all conversations, made sure they both had copies of all the paperwork and took his time explaining everything in detail to them. For Ralph it is all about trust. Because they trusted their realtor, and she in turn trusted Belluomini, the Loftin’s felt they could trust him as well. Ralph says, “It’s about being loyal. I would recommend Brian and Jennifer (the realtor) to anyone moving to the area, they were great.”
The Loftin’s new condo in Mesa is small, yet, cozy with stucco walls and what Ruth calls, “weird trees,” all around. They have stone and cacti and palm trees in their front yard, a far cry from the lush landscapes they were accustomed to in Illinois. And while it is clear from Ruth’s tone that she misses the topography and vistas she grew up with, it is also apparent that she has settled in comfortably in Arizona. Their new home has a patio out back, and while it is strange not having a front door—using garage doors or placing the main entrance on the side of the house is more common in the area—Ruth is grateful that their home has a washer/dryer inside instead of in the garage, especially in anticipation of the heat of summer. And even though they have sufficient storage space, such as an attic over the garage, Ruth is adamant about not using the space for fear of the scorpions that are notorious in Arizona.
The Loftin’s favorite pastimes are spending time together, going out to dinner and visiting with their kids and grandkids. To celebrate their first Christmas in their new home, the Loftin’s daughter, Janice, and her family traveled from Michigan to spend the holidays. And, of course, Brad and his family were in attendance as well. Ruth was able to show off the new condo, it’s open concept design with beautiful wood flooring, remodeled kitchen, lots of closet space (a good thing, since they aren’t planning to utilize the attic), a two-car garage and enviable plantation shutters. And conveniently, the master bathroom has a walk-in shower with a seat inside, should they ever require it.
To the Loftin’s pleasant surprise the whole relocation and reverse mortgage process was relatively seamless, from the move to obtaining the H4P to settling in. Even the housing association fees and taxes are less expensive in Arizona. And outside of feeling completely at home, the most surprising thing for Ruth was the fact that the H4P not only allowed them to increase their price, but it left them without a monthly payment on a traditional mortgage—one they feared they’d be paying for the rest of their lives—and meant they were able to purchase a home that exactly meets their needs.
Well, almost. As Ralph affectionately kids, “Like so many women, the newly remodeled kitchen doesn’t exactly meet Ruthie’s specifications.” But thanks to the H4P, the residual funds from the sale of their Illinois home will be spent on renovating the kitchen to those desired specifications. The design hasn’t stopped Ruth from baking some of their favorite pastries though. The house constantly smells of mouth-watering scents from nut rolls, kolaches, nut horns, cinnamon rolls and cookies.
While the home itself is a bit smaller than they are used to, the Loftin’s are acclimating, enjoying the warmer weather and have embraced a saying from one of their grandsons, “It’s ok, it’s alright.” They optimistically look at every new circumstance as simply another adventure. An exciting adventure that they have been on since they were kids.