What do Robert Wagner, Pat Boone, Fred Thompson and Henry Winkler have in common? If you've watched TV lately, you probably know the answer: They are all celebrity spokesmen for companies that offer reverse mortgages. Once you get over the shock of seeing the Fonz with gray hair, it's hard not to be intrigued. Life without mortgage payments! A government-insured loan! The retirement you deserve!
Like a traditional mortgage, a reverse mortgage allows you to borrow against your home equity. You don't have to repay the loan as long as you remain in your home. You must be 62 or older to qualify, and your home must be your primary residence. If you need extra income to supplement your retirement savings, a reverse mortgage may seem like the answer to your prayers. But the TV ads don't say much about the downsides.
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