Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Atlanta to Offer Free Reverse Mortgage Counseling

/PRNewswire/ -- Beginning immediately, Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) of Greater Atlanta will offer free reverse mortgage counseling sessions nationwide.

The decision comes as a result of a $1.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which was awarded to the national nonprofit counseling agency late in 2009. While most of the agency's other services are offered free to consumers, reverse mortgage counseling has historically required a consumer payment. This new grant funding will allow CCCS of Greater Atlanta to provide more than 12,500 reverse mortgage counseling sessions at no cost through September 2010.

A reverse mortgage (also called a home equity conversion mortgage, or HECM) is a loan that allows a homeowner to convert the equity in their home into tax-free income without having to sell the home, give up the title, or take on a new or additional monthly payment. Instead of making mortgage payments each month, the homeowner can receive income in the form of a lump sum, or as monthly payments. As long as the homeowner lives in the home, pays the property taxes and insurance, and keeps the home in good condition, they will not lose the home.

To be eligible for a reverse mortgage, homeowners must be 62 years of age or older, have paid off their mortgage or have only a small balance remaining, and their home must be their principle residence. In addition, HUD requires consumers to speak with an approved HECM counselor prior to obtaining the loan.

"A reverse mortgage can offer seniors greater financial security," said Suzanne Boas, president of CCCS of Greater Atlanta. "It can be used to supplement social security or meet unexpected medical expenses, allowing seniors to remain in their homes. However, it can be an expensive option, and is not the right solution for everyone."

"We hope seniors across the country will take advantage of this opportunity," Boas continued. "Obtaining this free counseling from a reputable and qualified nonprofit agency will help them understand all aspects of a reverse mortgage loan, and make an informed decision that is best for their unique situation."

HUD requires all reverse mortgage lenders to provide homeowners a list of nonprofit counseling agencies that provide reverse mortgage counseling. CCCS of Greater Atlanta is one of a small number of counseling agencies designated by HUD to provide counseling nationwide.

Seniors can schedule a reverse mortgage counseling session by calling CCCS of Greater Atlanta directly at 866-616-3716, seven days a week, in English and Spanish. Counseling can also be initiated online at www.cccsinc.org/reverse.

All of the agency's reverse mortgage counselors are college graduates, have completed the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) qualification exam approved by HUD and participate in reverse mortgage education classes.

To learn more, visit www.cccsinc.org and click on "I'm looking for information on a reverse mortgage" in the "Get Help Now" menu. There you will find a step-by-step guide to evaluating a reverse mortgage as well as helpful resources from organizations such as AARP.

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