Reverse Mortgage

Retirees Clear In New Survey: We Want To Stay In Our Homes

Desire to ‘age in place’ increases significantly over time

BRYN MAWR, Pa., May 24, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — An overwhelming number of people nearing or in retirement want to remain in their current home as long as possible, according to the results of a new survey released by The American College of Financial Services.

The Home Equity and Retirement Income Planning Survey found that 83 percent of the respondents do not want to relocate in retirement.

“One very interesting notion was that the desire to age in place increases significantly as you get older,” said survey author Jamie Hopkins, Professor of Retirement Income Planning and Co-Director of The American College New York Life Center for Retirement Income Planning. “We saw more uncertainty between the ages of 55 and 62. But once we started getting past 62 and you start moving into retirement, we saw that these individuals really don’t expect or want to leave their homes.”

The study also saw almost no homeowners with a strong desire to rent in retirement.

Attitudes on Equity

The survey, created to better understand retirees’ attitudes about home equity and housing decisions, also revealed that 44 percent have considered using home equity in retirement, but that only 25 percent feel comfortable spending it as a source of income.

It also found that only about 20 percent of the respondents felt that it was extremely important to leave their home as a legacy asset to their children or other heirs, while 45 percent listed it as not important.

The results were based on surveys of more than 1,000 people between the ages of 55 and 75 with at least $100,000 in investable assets and $100,000 in home equity. About 53 percent of the participants were male, 47 percent female.

7 in 10 Don’t Understand Reverse Mortgages

Another purpose of the study was to gauge retirees’ knowledge of reverse mortgages. According to the survey, just 30 percent of the participants earned a passing grade on basic knowledge about reverse mortgages. Furthermore, 10 percent of respondents answered all ten questions incorrectly.

“This is really going to open a lot of eyes about just how little people moving into retirement with some home equity know about reverse mortgages,” Hopkins said.

One very interesting notion was that the desire to age in place increases significantly as you get older,

Other key findings include:

  • Despite a strong desire to age in place, only 14% of the respondents had considered a reverse mortgage, with only one respondent having entered into a reverse mortgage;
  • The number one reason (44 percent) people did not enter into a reverse mortgage was they did not need it because of sufficient income. Other reasons, in order, were “too young” (18 percent), “not ready” (10 percent) and “too risky” (9 percent);
  • The respondents were generally misinformed about reverse mortgages, while holding a slightly negative view on reverse mortgages as a retirement tool;
  • Respondents thought they were more knowledgeable on reverse mortgages than their knowledge quiz answers suggested, showing both some degree of overconfidence and misunderstanding.

So what to make of this new research? Hopkins says financial advisors need to do a better job educating and talking to their clients about home equity. Additionally, products and strategies like reverse mortgages need to be given a second look by consumers and advisors as there are a lot of misconceptions out there today as evidenced by the survey.

“Hopefully that’s the biggest takeaway from this survey,” he said. “Advisors and consumers need to start thinking about home equity, including reverse mortgages, as part of the retirement income planning process.”

NOTE: Results of the survey and interviews with the survey’s author, Professor Jamie Hopkins, are available upon request.




About The American College of Financial Services
The American College of Financial Services is the nation’s largest non-profit educational institution devoted to financial services. Holding the highest level of academic accreditation, The College has served as a valued business partner to banks, brokerage firms, insurance companies and others since 1927. The American College faculty represents some of the financial services profession’s foremost thought leaders. For more information, visit