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Potential Beneficiaries from Reverse Mortgage Products for Elderly Homeowners: An Analysis of American Housing Survey Data


  • Sally R. Merrill
  • Meryl Finkel
  • Nandinee K. Kutty


A variety of reverse mortgage loan programs have been available to elderly households for over a decade. The number of unrestricted reverse mortgage loans issued by the private sector has been quite small. About 12,000 loans have been issued through mid-1992. Some researchers take this to mean that the size of the potential market for reverse mortgages is also quite small. Other researchers claim that current low levels of activity reflect supply and demand problems, but that the potential market is in fact quite large.This paper uses American Housing Survey (AHS) data to estimate the potential size of the market for unrestricted reverse mortgages. The 1989 national AHS shows that there are over twelve million elderly homeowners (age 62 and over) who own their homes free and clear. Depending on their income, age and the level of home equity, the group of households most likely to benefit from reverse annuity mortgages is considerably smaller. As one approach to defining a lower bound of the estimate of potential beneficiaries from reverse mortgages, we count the number of homeowners in a prime group consisting of the older elderly, aged 70 or above, with an annual income of $30,000 or less, with home equity between $100,000 and $200,000, who have lived in their homes for over ten years. We estimate that there are about 800,000 elderly households in this prime group. For such households, reverse mortgage payments could represent a substantial percentage increase in income; other definitions of target groups can also be explored using the tables provided.The paper uses the 1985 through 1988 AHS Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area (SMSA) surveys to identify areas that have a large number of elderly homeowners in the prime target group, and in which these homeowners represent a large fraction of the elderly homeowner population. These locations are likely targets for introduction of reverse mortgage products because any campaign can be targeted towards a high concentration of likely eligible beneficiaries. Copyright American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association.

Suggested Citation

  • Sally R. Merrill & Meryl Finkel & Nandinee K. Kutty, 1994. "Potential Beneficiaries from Reverse Mortgage Products for Elderly Homeowners: An Analysis of American Housing Survey Data," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 22(2), pages 257-299.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:reesec:v:22:y:1994:i:2:p:257-299

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Stiglitz, Joseph E & Weiss, Andrew, 1981. "Credit Rationing in Markets with Imperfect Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 393-410, June.
    2. Bostic, Raphael W. & Gans, Joshua S. & Stern, Scott, 1997. "Urban Productivity and Factor Growth in the Late Nineteenth Century," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 38-55, January.
    3. Robert B. Avery & Raphael W. Bostic & Paul S. Calem & Glenn B. Canner, 1999. "Trends in home purchase lending: consolidation and the Community Reinvestment Act," Federal Reserve Bulletin, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), issue Feb, pages 81-102.
    4. Douglas D. Evanoff & Lewis M. Segal, 1996. "CRA and fair lending regulations: resulting trends in mortgage lending," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Nov, pages 19-46.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mitchell, Olivia S. & Piggott, John, 2004. "Unlocking housing equity in Japan," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 18(4), pages 466-505, December.
    2. Hui Shan, 2011. "Reversing the Trend: The Recent Expansion of the Reverse Mortgage Market," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 39(4), pages 743-768, December.
    3. Sun Wei & Triest Robert K. & Webb Anthony, 2008. "Optimal Retirement Asset Decumulation Strategies: The Impact of Housing Wealth," Asia-Pacific Journal of Risk and Insurance, De Gruyter, vol. 3(1), pages 1-29, September.
    4. Sinai, Todd & Souleles, Nicholas S., 2007. "Net worth and housing equity in retirement," CFS Working Paper Series 2007/34, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
    5. Ming Pu & Gang-Zhi Fan & Yongheng Deng, 2014. "Breakeven Determination of Loan Limits for Reverse Mortgages under Information Asymmetry," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 48(3), pages 492-521, April.
    6. Makoto Nakajima, 2012. "Everything you always wanted to know about reverse mortgages but were afraid to ask," Business Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, issue Q1, pages 19-31.
    7. Maier, Andreas, 2010. "Immobilienverzehrprodukte: Potenzielle Profiteure und Nachfragehemmnisse," Thuenen-Series of Applied Economic Theory 115, University of Rostock, Institute of Economics.
    8. Ngee-Choon Chia & Albert K C Tsui, 2005. "Reverse Mortgages as Retirement Financing Instrument : An Option for “Asset-rich and Cash-poor†Singaporeans," Finance Working Papers 22566, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
    9. Buckley, Robert & Cartwright, Kim & Struyk, Raymond & Szymanoski, Edward, 2003. "Integrating housing wealth into the social safety net for the Moscow elderly: an empirical essay," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 202-223, September.
    10. Ermisch, John F. & Jenkins, Stephen P., 1999. "Retirement and housing adjustment in later life: evidence from the British Household Panel Survey," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 311-333, June.
    11. repec:eee:jhouse:v:38:y:2017:i:c:p:25-37 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Chiang, Shu Ling & Tsai, Ming Shann, 2016. "Analyzing an elder’s desire for a reverse mortgage using an economic model that considers house bequest motivation, random death time and stochastic house price," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 202-219.
    13. Irina A. Telyukova & Makoto Nakajima, 2011. "Reverse Mortgage Loans: A Quantitative Analysis," 2011 Meeting Papers 387, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    14. Disney, Richard & Whitehouse, Edward, 2001. "Cross-country comparisons of pensioners’ incomes," MPRA Paper 16345, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    15. Seungryul Ma & Yongheng Deng, 2006. "Insurance Premium Structure of Reverse Mortgage Loans in Korea," Working Paper 8568, USC Lusk Center for Real Estate.

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