The Changed Faces of Reverse Mortgage Loan Clients

fall leaf candles  I  hope that when I retire I can do crafty things like, say in October, make leaf lined candle jars, because I just never seem to have time  while working full time at what I love:  helping Grass Valley, Nevada City and Penn Valley seniors stay in their homes monthly mortgage payment free, with a reverse mortgage, the “peace of mind” loan. Truth be told, I love what I do so much that I just may never get to craft leafy type things anytime soon.

If you want to skip this blog post and go directly to my website or contact me for an appointment, here you go: or (530) 497-4010.

This is a non-technical post, lately I’ve done mostly technical type blog posts about different aspects of reverse mortgages, but as I enter my 8th year of full time specialization in reverse mortgages I’m reflecting on the changed faces of whom I am helping with the “peace of mind loan” once the loan is complete.   I have had almost all my clients of late call it such when we’ve either paid off their existing mortgage, created a credit line for them, or a combination of both, a few opt for lifetime incomes. When I check back in with clients, to a person, they all express the same things: that they were losing sleep over a depleted savings accounts and worrying about the inevitable repair, health crisis, or need for a newer car, all things in the back of their minds they knew could not be covered by savings, and that this loan had restored their peace in life and ability to enjoy life fully without nagging worry and sleep loss. Or, for the some of my clients, who could cover these types of expenses, but to do so the concern was they had to take more than mandatory draws out of a retirement fund, and then often they worried that they had “wasted money” to pay for a tax consequence in doing so.  Or the worry over NDFA, (No Damn Fooling Around) industry acronym for property taxes are due in November, must be paid by December, due in February must be paid by April. Ugh, worry over property taxes or the ever increasing fire and casualty costs that come with living in our beautiful mountain area, that’s no fun.

Often in the initial meeting or workshop seminar the clients I meet have worried faces, when the loan is complete there is a spring again in their step, a look on their faces of a weight lifted. Years ago I owned a successful real estate company in Sebastopol in Sonoma County, few women back then in all of Sonoma County had accomplished this, I was proud of having done so. Of course I was happy when the day came to hand over the keys to excited new homeowners, but nothing compares to the feeling I get now when I call clients to tell them we’ve just completed their reverse mortgage loan, and then a week or so later we meet for me to give them a thank you gift, because that is when I see happier faces and hear them feel free to express to me their feelings of relief and peace of mind restored, that’s their gift to me.


It’s a small community, even further down the line I run into my clients here and there post loan, that’s when I receive another  gift from clients, when they tell me how their life has changed post reverse mortgage: what new things they now can do, share with me a picture or two of a trip to see grandchildren, a motorhome taken out of storage and pictures of a trip, (where as before the gas had become too much of a budget buster to take trips at all), a falling apart deck now repaired and used for bbq’s and family gatherings, one set of clients whose mortgage was paid off through a reverse mortgage were still working part time well into their 70’s to cover the monthly payment, their comment was “we now have time to lay in a hammock and read a book overlooking the pond on our land, in our home”. Yes, I’m the lucky one indeed.

~Shawna McDonald, Loan Officer NMLS #271335, Real Estate Broker 00585530

Sierra Foothills Reverse Mortgage 412 E. Main Street, Grass Valley 530-497-3010


Shawna McDonald Opines: Reverse Mortgage Changes Part 2: Safety Net for Seniors in Retirement is Still Here and Going Strong for 2014!

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“River” Joni Mitchell

“It’s coming on Christmas

They’re cutting down trees

They’re putting up reindeer

And singing songs of joy and peace

Oh I wish I could find a river I could skate away on….”

I don’t know about you, but I always get a bit melancholy around the holidays, (fire up Joni Mitchell’s “River” from her 1971 album “Blue” and I can get a serious melancholy on).  Call it the cost of getting older if you will, I’m newly minted as 61, many of us may have experienced the loss of a loved one during the holidays, (a special person in my life perished in a plane crash), and yet every year we also can chose to adjust the “sight prisms” we see things through so that we see ways to give back to our communities to those less fortunate, celebrate the loved ones and dear friends who surround us in the here and now,  and look to the new year for a promise of re-newed hope and beginnings.

This year has been a challenging one for the HUD supervised and FHA insured reverse mortgage program, and yet what we have to celebrate is that the program still here, viable, and raring to go for 2014, albeit with some changes, and yet still providing an important, I repeat, important, safety net for seniors to allow them to age in place and enhance their retirement experience.

I have completed close to 400 reverse mortgages in my 5 year career in the industry and the feedback I consistently hear from clients is:  “Before we did the reverse mortgage we had more month than money, now that our mortgage is paid off we can go out to eat in a nice restaurant once and awhile and even travel  to see our grandchildren more often”, or for the more affluent, “We may never need the line of credit, but we sleep better knowing it is there, set up, and ready to go if we need it.”

No mortgage program, even the government backed reverse mortgage loan program, is invincible to the collapse of home values experienced in many states. As a multi-stated loan officer I worked with borrowers in many states but in particular in California, Florida, Indiana, and Texas:  I struggled to get loans completed for my clients having to work with the devastated home values that appraisals were bringing in.  So it is no surprise to me that this year HUD swooped in and reduced the formula we loan officers work with so that the dollar formula amount borrowers will qualify for is reduced. It had to happen, I knew it was coming.

And yet, the fabulous “no recourse” feature of this loan is, quite frankly, remarkably still in place, even though, as a result of decreased home values in many states, we saw the FHA insurance fund  somewhat depleted out over the last 5 years, it too is still going strong.  For example: a Floridian that passed away in the last few years, may have left a home whose appraised value was now ½ of what it was when the loan had been funded say back in 2006 when home values were at their peak. Heirs, as is their right under the “no recourse” loan provision of a reverse mortgage, would then notify the lender of the “gap” between the ultimate sales price in today’s market and what was owed on the reverse mortgage.  The lender in turn would look to the FHA insurance pool for reimbursement of the “gap” monies for a full payoff on the loan.

This scenario in some states such as Florida, Indiana, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, and even “golden” California,  to name a few,  was repeated over and over as lenders asked FHA to make them financially “whole” and fill in the monetary gap for the difference between the final sold price of the home and the reverse mortgage loan payoff amount.  Thus, in my opinion, this year’s HUD formula reduction on what can be borrowed with a reverse mortgage is a GOOD thing because it decreases the mortgage debt to equity ratio, thereby reducing the likelihood in the future that the FHA insurance fund will be frequently tapped. We want this program around for a long time, and the continued health of the FHA insurance fund will help that goal.

If you would like to know how the new reverse mortgage formula changes affect your qualifying numbers, and  how the next change to the program slated for January 2014  will affect you, (and there is one important change coming in the future), please feel free to contact me, I listen with great care to your retirement goals, and as you’ll see, or have seen, I love this program and the positive influence it has towards and improved retirement experience for my clients.

Shawna McDonald,

Loan Officer, Real Estate Broker

NMLS #271335  BRE #00585530

or by phone

Sierra Foothills and Sacramento area:  (530) 497-3010

Sonoma, Marin and Napa Counties (707) 634-7070

skating 2

If you need to get a little melancholy on:

Joni and “River”…

In the interest of equal opportunity  if you have no need for melancholy and want to go straight to holiday cheer:

Alvin and the Chipmunks (Who remembers Hula Hoops??)


Peanuts and the Holiday Lights Song

Enjoy and music links courtesy of :

Shawna McDonald, Loan Officer/Real Estate Broker

Specializing in Reverse Mortgages

office 2


    Office Location: 412 East Main Street, Grass Valley

( Take the Highway 80 Idaho Maryland Off Ramp  and carefully go west out of the round about, office is immediate right)

(530) 497-3010

NMLS #271335 

BRE #00585530


The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author. Copyright © 2013 -20014 · All Rights Reserved. NMLS #271335 BRE # 00585530. Borba Investments Inc, DBA MLS Reverse Mortgage Auburn, CA  NMLS #76801  BRE #01456165 HUD approved lender.                                                                                            png hud logo

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It’s Fall ~ The State of Things in the Reverse Mortgage World


Nevada County in All Her Fall Glory                                                                                                  

Fall is here and  the dust has settled on the 2013 HUD required changes to the reverse mortgage program, what just happened?  Is it a good thing, a bad thing, or a little of both?  Let’s take a look at some of the changes and the intended effect on the reverse mortgage program.

HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development), which governs the FHA insured reverse mortgage program, instituted these changes to fiscally strengthen the program by allowing less money to be borrowed upfront and to  the lessen the chance of default on the payment by the borrower on property taxes and insurance.

1) First-year money draw limit. A homeowner may now withdraw only up to 60% of the eligible sum during the first year unless they have a mandatory obligation, such as a mortgage, which if that loan payoff forces the initial draw above 60%, then in many cases they may draw an additional 10% that first year of the loan. Depending on the reverse mortgage program selected, (line of credit),  the remaining funds will be eligible after 1 year has passed.  This is designed to be a good thing. Limiting the amount of money taken out at the loan’s close is predicted by HUD to reduce the number of defaults on property taxes and insurance because a borrower has spent all their proceeds. This default rate for unpaid property taxes and/or had been climbing and HUD hopes to reduce this trend.

2) Reduced Loan Costs vs. Increased Loan Costs: Despite all the news and television headlines designed in my opinion to “inflame”,  the cost of the reverse mortgage can now be less than it had been previously and it can now also cost more. If a borrower elects to draw up to 60% or less of the available funds at the close of the loan the up front costs are reduced  for the required FHA mortgage insurance. If the borrower draws over 60% of the available funds at the close of the loan the upfront cost of the FHA mandatory insurance has gone up. Each borrowers individual scenario must be carefully analyzed by a licensed loan professional.

I produce INDIVIDUAL personalized loan scenarios thus I am not going to throw out a bunch of figures in this forum, but, having said that, generally speaking for more fee info see the next item for a general fee discussion:

3) Fee changes. Previously, the upfront fee for the mandatory FHA mortgage insurance on a standard reverse mortgage was approximately 2% of the property’s appraised value with a cap at the maximum program recognized home value of $625,500, (these differ a bit for a “jumbo” reverse loan, call me for a quote on that). With the new HUD rules, the upfront fee will be 0.5% of the home’s appraised value for those who take at the close of the loan under 60% of the available proceeds, if more is taken at the close of the loan due to mandatory obligation payoffs (such as an existing home loan) then the borrower pays of a 2.5%  of the home’s appraised value for the upfront mandatory FHA insurance premium. This is HUD’s incentive for borrowers to draw at close of the loan under 60% of available funds therefore  keeping  funds in reserve for property taxes and insurance. Sure, at day 366 following the close of the loan borrowers can access ALL the remaining funds (line of credit program only) and therefore potentially be unable to pay for property taxes and insurance later, so what about that?  Well, see item 4 below:

4) IMPORTANT: Set asides for property taxes and insurance and financial assessment are coming:  THIS IS COMING BY MID TO LATE JANUARY 2014 on reverse mortgage loans that are not started in 2013. In some cases HUD is going to require these types of set asides and in ALL CASES is going to require a financial assessment. If you would like to avoid these impending changes, NOW IS THE TIME to apply for your reverse mortgage. Sigh, I wish I could say the trend were different, by waiting it will get easier and you will qualify for more money, but this is not the trend currently.  If you start your reverse mortgage now I promise to be minimally annoying during the holidays,  here’s a plus: your house will look great for the 1 hour appraisal, so why not get it started now and avoid property tax set asides and a financial assessment? Give me a call, it is my mission in life to give you the best personalized service and aggressive loan cost pricing.

Have fun this month, run through the pumpkin patch, and at the same time, consider getting going on your RM now.

Tolay-Fall-Festival-Sonoma-County-Northern-California-LocalGetaways 2

Shawna McDonald, Loan Officer/Real Estate Broker

Specializing in Reverse Mortgages

office 2


    Office Location: 412 East Main Street, Grass Valley

( Take  Highway 49 to the   Idaho Maryland Off Ramp  and carefully go west out of the round about, office is immediate right)

(530) 497-3010

NMLS #271335 

BRE #00585530

The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author. Copyright © 2013 -20014 · All Rights Reserved. NMLS #271335 BRE # 00585530. Borba Investments Inc, DBA MLS Reverse Mortgage Auburn, CA  NMLS #76801  BRE #01456165 HUD approved lender.                                                                                            png hud logo