Just as Dorothy in the “Wizard of Oz” had her ruby slippers that could have gotten her back to Kansas at any time with three clicks of her heels, retirees have the option of tapping their home sweet home to bridge income shortfalls.
Yet, according to research from the National Council on Aging, only 20 percent of retirees polled said they would be willing to use their home equity to generate income. Information was obtained through focus groups with 112 people aged 60 to 75, and two surveys of 254 financial advisers and 1,002 older homeowners.
When you’re in a pinch, here’s how to get the max out of your home.
- Get over the notion a home is sacred: “Using your home equity to generate retirement income can help you delay claiming Social Security,” says Gary Borowiec, a financial adviser and managing partner at Atlas Advisory Group in Cranford, New Jersey.
- Audit your housing situation: Determine if you’re using your home equity wisely. “Is a senior citizen living in the same home where she raised her children who have now gone off to live on their own? Would it make sense to downsize to an apartment with lower costs and fewer maintenance issues? If so, redirect some of the equity from the original home to investments that can generate an income stream over the course of her retirement,” says David Reiss, a professor at Brooklyn Law School specializing in real estate.
- Consider a reverse mortgage: Says Sherrie Grabot, founder of GuidedChoice in San Diego, “It provides a monthly income. But your equity is reduced for future heirs.”