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The case for reverse mortgages in Australia : applying the USA experience

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conference contribution
posted on 2003-01-01, 00:00 authored by Richard Reed, K Gibler
In the USA, reverse mortgages have been promoted as a means of accessing equity locked up in a residence, especially after the owner/s has retired. Although there have been some teething problems, the concept of mortgaging the family home after achieving freehold ownership has many merits. Often an asset-rich household must survive on relatively small regular income, and is unable to access the increasing wealth of the family home. A reverse mortgage overcomes this hurdle.

The largest asset for many ageing households is their primary place of residence, the traditional house and suburban land parcel. Recently, the Australian housing market has witnessed substantial growth in the value of its capital city housing, especially on the east coast of Australia. This can be attributed to factors such as owner-occupiers trading up to a better class of dwelling, and the continuing gentrification process for owners choosing not to relocate. At the same time, demographic changes have placed pressure on the regular income of retirees, many of whom have no superannuation fund. For example, life expectancy rates continue to rise and there are an increasing proportion of single person households in society. This has placed additional pressure on financial resources of retirees, especially those with a substantial investment in their family home and a relatively small pension.

This paper visits the reverse mortgage scenario in the USA and considers potential implications for the Australian market. Strengths and weaknesses of this product are contemplated, and the viability of reverse mortgages is discussed. Although there are obvious benefits for certain segments of society, reverse mortgages are a unique product and caution should be exercised to ensure the public is fully knowledgeable from the outset.



Pacific Rim Real Estate Society. Conference (9th : 2003 : Brisbane, Queensland)


1 - 13


Pacific Rim Real Estate Society


Brisbane, Queensland

Place of publication

[Brisbane, Qld.]

Start date


End date




Publication classification

E1.1 Full written paper - refereed

Copyright notice

2003, PRRES

Title of proceedings

PRRES 2003 : Proceedings of the 9th Annual Conference of the Pacific Rim Real Estate Society 2003

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