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More Homeowners Taking Mortgage Debt Into Retirement

July 17, 2014, 10:10 PM by Angela Kennecke

More Homeowners Taking Mortgage Debt Into Retirement

Many people plan to pay off their mortgage before they retire, but that's less common these days. 
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that mortgage debt is rising among older Americans and could threaten their financial security in retirement. 

But some older homebuyers are also less fearful of carrying a mortgage balance into their golden years. 

Realtor Brad Anderson just got remarried.  He and his wife Jada are about to close on a new home in southern Sioux Falls and at age 50, Anderson will be taking out a 30-year mortgage. 

It's not for everybody.

Anderson says it's for him because of the low interest rate on his mortgage loan. 

"In my opinion it's better to make your money work for you and not be afraid to take a mortgage.  At 4.5 percent, that's pretty cheap money," Anderson said.

He doesn't plan to stay in the home a full 30 years. 80 percent of people aged 65 or older own their home, but the refinancing boom may be one reason why mortgage debt is up eight percent among seniors over 65 and doubled for those 75 or older.

"I think a lot of that could be due to the economy we had in 2008, some of the issues we had in that time frame and maybe expenses came up that people didn't anticipate. So maybe they did have to tap into their equity to do that," Dave Kelly said.

Kelly is a mortgage planning specialist. He says deciding whether to carry a mortgage balance into retirement, depend on the circumstances.

"So if they're 50-years-old, when are they planning on retiring? We want to know exactly when that's going to happen. Do they plan to retire at 60 or 65?  And how does this bear on them being able to afford that mortgage. What is their retirement income going to look like as a function of that," Kelly said.

Anderson sees himself working well past retirement age, at least part time. But that's not the case for all seniors with mortgage debt. 

Senior delinquency and foreclosure rates went up by five times during the financial crisis.  Older consumers have a tougher time recovering from foreclosure because they have more health problems and difficulty returning to work.

Managing Mortgage Debt in Retirement

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