Older Americans Face A New Fear - Foreclosure

More American seniors are looking for creative ways to avoid foreclosure and keep their homes. People of retirement age have always had the standard concerns — having enough in savings, long-term health care, providing for children — however, losing their home wasn’t typically one of them. Times are different now. After our country’s housing market collapse, a terrible recession, and more people using their homes as cash machines, millions of seniors are struggling to make house payments.

Over the past two decades, the baby boom generation was faced with new retirement worries. As more and more employers eliminated traditional pensions, workers were forced to manage their retirement savings. Many didn’t save enough, invested poorly, or drained their retirement account.

Seniors who use retirement money to pay housing costs can face disaster if their health deteriorates or their savings run short. They’re more likely to need help from the government, charities, or their children. Many must keep working well into retirement.

According to The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Office for Older Americans:

  • 30% of homeowners 65 and older were paying a mortgage in 2013, up from 22 percent in 2001
  • 21% of homeowners 75 and older carried a home loan in 2011, up from only 8 percent in 2001
  • The median mortgage held by Americans 65 and older has more than doubled since 2001

In markets hit hardest by the housing bust, including sections of Florida, a significant share of older Americans are glued to mortgages that eclipse their home’s worth. The result was foreclosure for many. Between 2007 and 2011, 1.5 million Americans age 50 and older lost their homes, according to an AARP study.

Seniors fell into housing trouble due to various reasons: Some lost jobs, some overpaid for homes during the housing boom, and some made poor decisions to refinance mortgages in order to pull cash out of their homes to cover unexpected costs. Whatever the reason, they are now seeking innovative ways to keep their homes.

In Florida, older residents are exploring innovative ways to earn extra money in order to save their homes: Performing musical gigs, selling goods at open markets, applying for jobs in the corporate world, and even filing bankruptcy. They are leaving no stone unturned to avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes.