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Study Finds Reverse Mortgage Market Performing Well Despite Tough U.S. Economy

May 06, 2011

The National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA)/RiskSpan Reverse Mortgage Market Index (RMMI) estimates the value of home equity held by seniors aged 62 and older to be $3.3 trillion as of the end of 2010. The index has tracked reverse mortgage market opportunity since 2000 by analyzing and reporting on trends in senior home values and home equity levels. The impact of falling home prices on aggregate senior equity levels has been partially offset by the demographic growth of the senior population and its lower mortgage debt levels relative to the rest of the population. The level of senior home equity has fallen by 18 percent from peak levels, compared to a 31 percent decline for the total population of homeowners. “This data shows us that the home equity is still an important component of total wealth for seniors. As such, this equity will be increasingly important to help seniors fund longevity as they outlive the generations before them,” said Peter Bell, president of the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA). National home prices and mortgage debt levels indicate a stabilizing of the RMMI. After a slight uptick in the third quarter, housing prices fell again in the fourth quarter, according to Federal Housing Finance Authority (FHFA) index data. The RMMI fell to 157.7 in the fourth quarter of 2010 (the RMMI is indexed to Q1 2000), 0.3 percent lower than the preceding quarter’s level and 18 percent below the fourth quater of 2006 peak. Based on RiskSpan’s analysis of FHFA and U.S. Census Bureau data, the aggregate value of senior housing fell by $15 billion to $4.3 trillion, while senior mortgage debt levels fell by $4 billion, resulting in an $11 billion reduction in the level of senior home equity.  
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