Reverse mortgages continue to grow in popularity

Pink piggy bank with trail of coins to a house

If you're 62 or older and need cash but don't want to sell your home, a reverse mortgage could supplement your retirement.

Provided that your home is paid for, or almost paid for, you can borrow against its equity.

You can get the cash as a lump sum, monthly income, line of credit or a combination of the three -- without having to sell the home or give up its title.

There are no limits on how the money is spent, you have no obligation to pay it back and there's no way you'd lose your home.

Higher food and energy costs are making it hard for seniors on fixed incomes to make ends meet -- one probable reason why reverse mortgages are on the rise.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development data show that creation of new reverse mortgage loans grew 4.2% in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2008.

The National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association says a record 112,100 such loans were closed during those 12 months.

Reverse mortgages are expected to become even more popular next year because of an increase in the federally insured loan limit.

Lending limits previously varied by county and ranged from $200,160 in rural areas to $362,790 in the most expensive markets. The new limit is $417,000.

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