Home > Mortgages > HUD Eases Surviving Spouses’ Mortgage Burden

Comments 0 Comments


Under pressure from a powerful senior citizens’ group, the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced recently that widows and widowers won’t be forced to pay off reverse mortgage debt exceeding their home’s value—a policy that had previously left some seniors facing foreclosure.

The decision will help three seniors who’d filed suit against HUD to stay in their homes, and it could affect thousands more. But the American Association of Retired Persons, which is representing the plaintiffs, says it will continue its lawsuit anyway.

[Resource: Get your free Credit Report Card]

Reverse mortgages entitle senior citizens with significant equity in their homes to receive monthly payments from their lender based on the value of the house. In the past, when a mortgage holder died, heirs including spouses not named on the mortgage would never owe a bank more than the home was worth at the time of repayment, according to this press release from the AARP.

In 2008, HUD announced a change in policy, saying that widows or widowers who were not listed on the mortgage would be required to repay the loan in full, even if the loan amount was higher than the property’s value. The change came at an especially bad time, since the bursting housing bubble and declining home values meant that many homes were not worth the value of their mortgages.

That pushed a number of seniors into foreclosure. The AARP sued on behalf of three seniors who faced foreclosure because of the new rules. We covered the lawsuit here.

[Related article: Widows Sue Government, Claim Evictions Illegal]

“HUD has inexplicably turned existing reverse mortgage policies upside down,” Jean Constantine-Davis, a lawyer for the AARP, said in the press release.  “These are older individuals with limited means who have been blindsided by arbitrary, retroactive decision making.”

HUD rescinded the rule change in a letter released April 5. But the AARP will continue its lawsuit, trying to win a judge’s order that the federal agency can never force a surviving spouse to pay more to pay off a reverse mortgage than the home is worth.

Image © Olivier Le Queinec | Dreamstime.com

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other sponsored content on Credit.com are Partners with Credit.com. Credit.com receives compensation if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any financial products or cards offered.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team