By Alain Vallès, CSA, MS, MBA, Managing Director
Helping Hands Community Partners, Inc.
Many of us are currently facing very tough economic times and uncertainty. And if you are fortunate to be in a good place then the odds are extremely high that you have a family member or friend not as well off. Even worse, they may be giving the appearances of everything is ok while privately suffering.
I was reflecting on my mission to educate older homeowners about different housing options, including reverse mortgages, and the song written and recorded by Bill Withers called “Lean on Me” came to mind. Several of the verses ring so true when it comes to home financing challenges and not seeking help including:
“Sometimes in our lives we all have pain”
The financial pain of not being able to pay the mortgage, real estate taxes, credit cards, medical expenses, or home repairs are just a few examples of trying to remain financially independent at home. Or you might have a friend struggling to make ends meet who has lost their smile.
“Please swallow your pride if I have things you need to borrow”
Reverse mortgages conjure up many emotions. Mostly negative. This is due to a lack of education of how the program works. The stigma that it is only to be used for a last resort is not true. My experience helping thousands of older homeowners is that many unfortunately view financial hardship as a reflection of their personal worth. How untrue! Wouldn’t we all advise our children and friends that it is a sign of strength to raise your hand to seek assistance and education?
“Lean on me, when you’re not strong and I’ll be your friend”
As a Managing Director of the self-funded nonprofit Helping Hands Community Partners mortgage company, our mission is to educate people about housing options – including reverse mortgages. We are the only licensed nonprofit in Massachusetts that focuses on sharing reliable information on the pros and cons about reverse mortgages and, when appropriate, we are approved to arrange them for eligible homeowners.
Our belief is not everyone should get a reverse mortgage, but everyone should have a better understanding of the facts and myths. Once informed, I am repeatedly asked by my clients – “Why doesn’t the government tell everyone about this?” Likely they don’t have the resources but I’m trying to get the word out the best I can one person at a time. I have had the immense pleasure over the past decades helping so many homeowners who have become my friends. What a joy to resolve their financial pain and see their smiles return.
The end of the song “Lean on Me” repeats “Call me” 14 times. I’ve written well over 60 articles encouraging people to get free factual information, to learn about the pros and cons of reverse mortgages, to see if a reverse mortgage will strengthen one’s retirement plans or improve one’s quality of life but in the end you must take the first step to be better informed. “If you just call me”… you will know quickly if we’ll be friends.
Get the facts: Obtain your free “How to Use Your Home to Stay at Home” 36-page book
Please give me a call at 781-724-6221 or email [email protected] to receive your free copy of “Use Your Home to Stay at Home,” the official reverse mortgage consumer booklet approved by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development and published by the National Council on Aging. This is a great place to get basic information.
Alain Valles is Managing Director of Helping Hands Community Partners, Inc. and was the first designated Certified Reverse Mortgage Professional in New England. He obtained a Master of Science from the M.I.T. Center for Real Estate, an MBA from the Wharton School, and graduated summa cum laude from UMass Amherst. Alain can be reached directly at 781-724-6221 or by email at [email protected].