Reverse mortgages are no longer for homeowners in dire straits. There are a number of creative ways to use the proceeds from a reverse mortgage to avoid tapping into your other assets or retirement accounts. For this reason, many financial planners today are recommending reverse mortgages as a viable retirement planning tool.

Reverse Mortgage

As you age, you may go through some health issues and your home may not accommodate you as well as it once did. One of the biggest financial shocks among retirees is the cost of home repairs, according to a recent survey from the Society of Actuaries.

If you are 62 or older, you can use the proceeds from a reverse mortgage to make your home more suitable for your situation as you age. The reverse mortgage may help offset some, if not all, of the renovation costs.

Even if you are considering moving to a new home altogether to better accommodate your aging lifestyle, a reverse mortgage may be able to help fund upgrades to your current home to make it a place you can stay in.

More specifically, universal design may be the way to go to ensure your home will be there with you every step of the way. Universal design, which is also known as inclusive design, is the design and composition of an environment that can be accessed, understood and used by all people regardless of their age, size, ability or disability.

Some popular universal design features that may make your home more livable include:

  • Wider hallways; usually four feet
  • Wider doorways, 36 inches to accommodate wheelchairs
  • Low-pile carpeting or no carpeting
  • Curbless entrances to showers
  • Non-slip bathroom tiles
  • Pocket doors
  • Garages that are 1.5 times the average size to help those in wheelchairs
  • Dishwashers mounted higher off the ground
  • Various countertop heights in kitchen and bathroom

Reverse Mortgage – Myths

There are many misconceptions when it comes to universal design. One of those myths is that universal design is not the most appealing way to design a home. Fortunately, with the staggering number of baby boomers retiring each day, more and more companies are seeing the need for universal design, especially for those who wish to age in place. This recent push is making universal design elements more attractive than ever.

Even large high-end bathroom manufacturers, such as Wisconsin-based Kohler, have developed aging in place solutions that aesthetically pleasing as well as highly functional. Kohler’s bathroom line “Aging Gracefully” includes bathtubs with raising walls to make them easier to step into, “comfort height” toilets, wall-mounted bathroom sinks and attractive hand showers and grab bars designed to be helpful for all ages.

Universal design is often thought of as a more expensive option for home renovations, and that is also a myth. Even if you were to build a house from scratch, integrating universal design features would only bump up your costs by 2% to 3%, according to Bob Aquilino, president of Accessible Design & Build, a universal design builder based in Raleigh, N.C.

When it comes down to it, universal design is not much different from current design trends. The floor plans tend to be very spacious and open to allow for anyone to easily travel through the house without bumping into walls. The style mirrors the highly popular open floor plans that are typical of many new homes being built today.

If you’re more interested in buying a new home altogether or relocating, there is also a reverse mortgage for purchase option that may help you purchase a new home with features equipped for aging.

For more information on different ways to use the proceeds from a reverse mortgage to fund universal design upgrades or how to find out if you’re qualified for a reverse mortgage for purchase, contact your trusted financial advisor.

Article references: 2015 Risks and Process of Retirement Survey