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Reverse Mortgages

Nancy Nall Reporting
Reverse mortgages can be described as a form of piggy bank – for years, you put money in your house (the piggy bank), and eventually paid off your mortgage, or reduced the balance dramatically. Now, in your later years, your earning power diminished, you need to tap that the equity, but you don't want to move. The reverse mortgage is designed for people like you.

A reverse mortgage can be arranged to pay out in a lump sum, in monthly installments or tapped as a home equity line of credit. The twist is, these loans need not be repaid as long as you stay in your home; they're settled when the borrower dies, sells or moves out permanently.

Reverse mortgages can be a significant source of income for older people living on Social Security, pensions and savings, and without requiring them to leave their homes.

Of course there are fees attached, and legal stipulations you need to know before you make a decision. But there's lots of information out there to help you settle on a strategy. The AARP has a fine online resource, including calculators and eligibility guidelines. You can also find information from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Yahoo! Finance, which offers a good all-around primer on the subject.

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