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posted: 4/22/2017 6:00 AM

Seminars help seniors with home-selling decision

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By Jean Murphy
Daily Herald Correspondent

Seniors and their adult children are taking interest in a series of free Home-selling Workshops for Seniors that American Fidelity Mortgage Services and RE/MAX Action, both in Lombard, have offered since late 2016 in conjunction with an attorney, home inspector and moving expert.

The next workshop is scheduled for May 18 at the Glen Ellyn Public Library. Additional venues and dates throughout DuPage County are now being sought.

Jackie Vincenzo, senior loan officer at American Fidelity, specializes in home financing for seniors. "We love to help older people who want to sell their current home and buy another one or who want to stay in their current home. Either can qualify for a reverse mortgage, also known as a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM)," she said. "Many don't realize that if they are retired and living on their pension and Social Security, they won't qualify for a regular FHA loan but they will likely qualify for a reverse mortgage and I can explain the basics through these workshops."

Darlene Mahnke, a senior real estate specialist with RE/MAX said: "I learned a lot about the aging process as it relates to moving when I was helping my mother, so I decided to help others understand the process, too. Whether they are planning to sell their home and relocate nearby or out of state, or stay in their current home, they will receive a wealth of educational information."

Mahnke and Vincenzo recruited other experts in related fields to assist them in educating seniors about home-selling and buying in today's market.

Donna Craft Cain is an attorney who regularly works with seniors. She explains the sales contract, tax implications and what to expect at the closing. Mike Ruszkowski of Home Team Inspection Service helps attendees know the types of repairs they will be required to make before selling and Sue Pagnoni of Bekins Century Moving explains the ins and outs of moving and gives suggestions on what seniors should take with them and what they should toss, donate or sell.

"Most of them have lived in their current home for 30 or 40 years and both they and their adult children need to be educated and included in a collective conversation," Vincenzo said.

Mahnke shares tips on preparing a home for sale, pricing it and searching for a smaller home or a retirement community. "All senior real estate specialists understand that it won't be a quick sale when you are dealing with a senior. They need to be educated and they just move slower, so brokers have to be patient and understanding and help them become comfortable with what they are doing," she said.

During the workshops, Vincenzo explains how a reverse mortgage can be used to help seniors buy a new house or stay in the home they are in. She is also willing to set up private, individual appointments in the days following the workshops to speak more specifically about a certain individual's situation.

As people grow older and retire, they confront the problem of having enough money to live on and enjoy life, and at the same time, being able to stay in their current home or a smaller home of their choice. So much of their accumulated wealth is tied up in their home that many end up "house rich and cash poor."

Jack Kemp, secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Reagan, actually anticipated this problem back in the 1980s and had his experts develop the HECM program, which is popularly known today as a reverse mortgage.

This program, which is guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration and backed by HUD, gives people 62 and older access to the equity they have built up in their homes without having to make any monthly payments. Borrowers can use the reverse mortgage to purchase a new home or to stay in their current home. After receiving the loan as a monthly payment or line of credit, or a combination of the two, the money is eventually repaid from proceeds of the sale of the house after the senior moves or dies.

"Most of the seniors we see have lost their spouse and they don't want to be a burden to their children," Vincenzo said. "Some want to move but others aren't ready to sell their longtime home. They just want to be able to maintain it. So we suggest a reverse mortgage so that they aren't stuck with a monthly mortgage payment. Instead, they can free up that money for maintenance, a vacation or even in-home health care if they need it. It is a great tool for those over 62. They do, however, have to continue to pay their property taxes."

For more information about upcoming home selling workshops, call Vincenzo at (630) 461-6720 or Mahnke at (630) 674-3678. Light refreshments and a raffle are always offered.

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