As you may be aware a reverse mortgage allows you to borrow money against the value of your home. In Australia, people often use the equity released via a reverse mortgage as ‘income’ to fund their retirement. Reverse mortgage continues to grow in popularity among seniors as the retirement funding shortfall for baby boomers starts to really bite in the community.
Although few Australians are aware of it, the government has a kind of ‘reverse mortgage scheme’ that has many advantages not offered by the private sector. The Centrelink and Department of Veterans Affairs have a Pension Loan Scheme wherein people who are on a part age pension can get a loan against their home or investment property. Just like any reverse mortgage, the loan is repaid once the property is sold. The loan serves as an additional income stream that when combined with the part-pension, gives them the benefit of maximum level of pension. The interest rate is also lower than the usual variable interest rates offered by reverse mortgage providers. The government reverse mortgage has a fixed interest rate currently of 5.25%.
Recently the Australia Institute argued though that the government scheme is available only for the wealthy retirees. Why is this so? Those retirees who own their homes, but are considered poor enough to be on full age pension, cannot access this government scheme. In short, only those Australian retirees who don’t have access to full age pension (because their wealth and income makes them ineligible) are able to enjoy and benefit from the government reverse mortgage scheme. In addition, those self-funded retirees who own property and ineligible for the age pension (because of income test or asset test) can also access the scheme. However, if they are ineligible for age pension under both tests, they won’t be able to access the scheme.
Therefore it’s perhaps no surprise the Australian Institute said that the government scheme is only available for those who need it the least. This compels most aged pensioners to use private reverse mortgage providers instead. After all, unlike the government scheme that is only limited and capped to the aged pension rate, retirees can borrow from a private sector reverse mortgage lender and take it as a lump sum – this is a major advantage. This gives borrowing power to a huge class of retirees who are on their full age pension and cannot access the government scheme. Read this for a full list of PROs & CONs to both the pension loans scheme and reverse mortgages that should be carefully considered.
The Australian Institute suggests that the government scheme should be available for every one of pension age. This should not be limited to rich people who are in the first place, ineligible for the full age pension because of their income or assets. If the scheme is made available for everyone, this will allow retirees who own property to potentially double their retirement income and live the rest of their lives to the fullest.
According to Australian Institute, this would not have a significant effect on the government’s budget if they open the scheme for everyone. What do you think? Do you think Centrelink should make the pension loans scheme available to every retiree? Tell us in the comments!
The day is finally here: I’m really excited to announce the official re-launch of Seniors First!
I can’t quite believe it, but it’s been eight whole years since we first started helping Australian seniors with reverse mortgage and equity release finance. Where did the time go??
It feels just like yesterday, but since 2006 we’ve helped thousands of people, won industry awards, and developed a reputation I’m really proud of. If you’re interested, check out our history page (yes, I’ve aged!)
What’s Our ‘Re-launch’ All About?
Well it’s my view that all good organisations never stand still for long. To be successful over the long-term companies must constantly listen, adapt and develop over time so that the needs of customers always met. The world changes fast, and we must change with it to keep up. Our re-launch is a conscious way to demonstrate to you, staff and partners that we are positioning for the future of reverse mortgages. And that future is online.
To this end, we’ve refreshed the Seniors First brand identity with an updated logo.
And we’ve worked with my other business to build this amazing new website. Our objective was to create a leading online resource for reverse mortgage and senior’s home equity release in Australia. We want this site to become THE destination for retirees, pensioners, and families who are considering reverse mortgage finance so we’ve packed it full or really useful information and tools:
Why Are We Re-launching Now?
The GFC of 2008/2009 was very hard on the reverse mortgage market in Australia. Essentially the number of lenders shrank from over twenty to just a handful. This was bad for consumers and the lack of product choice resulted in many borrowers missing out, or perhaps paying more in interest and fees that they otherwise might have. A lack of competition is never healthy for any market.
However I’m pleased to report that (five years later!) new lenders and products are once again emerging. As this rate of innovation of product choice increases, senior borrowers will need a specialist finance broker more than ever before.
In addition, there are signs of ‘shifting sands’ in public policy that are worrying many pensioners and self-funded retirees. The Government is increasingly giving signals that aged pension funding, health card concessions, and tax breaks that favour seniors are under review and may be reduced, or cut. In this environment – and with the vast majority of household wealth stored in property – the ability to release equity from the home safely and easily may become crucial for many Australians.
In the near future, it’s very possible that government policy will push more of the retirement funding burden to individuals and thereby increase the demand for reverse mortgages. With our new website, extra staff, and investment in online technology, I’m pleased to say this is a challenge that Seniors First is ready to meet.