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Posted: 12:00 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2009

Reverse mortgages continue to be a bad deal for seniors

Clark is no longer recommending Reverse.org

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Reverse mortgages have been very popular as of late with seniors. With a reverse mortgage, an elder gets to stay in his or her home and collect a check each month from the mortgage company.

You essentially turn your house into an ATM. It's been particularly attractive to seniors who can't afford to sell at a loss and are in need of supplemental income.

But what seems good in concept has not been good in reality. Reverse mortgages have historically come with exorbitant fees and expenses. The forthcoming September issue of Consumer Reports has a write-up on why they stink. Keep an eye out for it shortly on a magazine rack near you.

Clark is no longer recommending Reverse.org

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve is taking a look at the main part of the mortgage market. There are new proposed rules now open to comment from the mortgage industry through November.

In short, the Fed is trying to force mortgage lenders to lay out in plain English what will happen to you in a loan or home equity line. The proposals would also outlaw kickbacks where lenders purposely put you into a higher cost loan to earn compensation.

Clark hopes the Fed stands up to the mortgage business and doesn't weaken its proposals. We need the industry to have fiduciary duty and work for us, not against us.

And remember to always get several mortgage offers before making a final decision.

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