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More Seniors Using Reverse Mortgages to Raise Cash
CNBC.com | March 16, 2012 | 09:54 AM EDT

Finding themselves financially strapped, more seniors at an earlier age are trying to get reverse mortgages on their homes in order to survive, according to a new report.

The study says the percentage of people aged 62 to 64 applying for reverse mortgages has increased 15 percent since 1999.

The reason for the dramatic upswing among 'younger' seniors is simple, the report concludes: They need the money.

"The average age for taking out reverse mortgages has been around 71," explains Sandy Timmerman, director of the MetLife Market Institute who conducted the survey with the National Council on Aging.

"But with job losses, higher debt and living costs, more and more of the 'younger' seniors are looking at reverse mortgages as a way to pay their bills and keep their homes," Timmerman adds. "It shows the devastation some seniors have gone through since the financial downturn."

Reverse mortgages—which allow homeowners to borrow against the value of their homes—have been around since the early 1960's, but have grown in popularity. TV commercials with celebrities like Henry Winkler, Robert Wagner and Fred Thompson promoting reverse mortgages, are rampant during weekends and late night viewing hours.

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