American Advisors Group

Borrower Stories: Janet and John P.

Janet and John P. standing in front of their home

How Two U.S. Army Vets Used a Reverse Mortgage to Get Over the Hump

As you read this amazing story, you may think it’s too good to be true. Take a little trip with us before you decide.

John, from Wisconsin, and Janet, from Virginia, somehow found their way to Wyoming after each served eight years in the U.S. Army. They first laid eyes on each other at a cattle-branding event.

Quick on the draw, John soon proposed. After all, it seemed the perfect match, the handsome deputy sheriff fighting crime like the fictionalized lawman in the television series “Longmire,” and his beautiful and talented wife, nurse Janet. 

“The joke was John would shoot ‘em up, and I’d patch ‘em up,” Janet said.

Many joyful years later into what is now a loving 36-year-old marriage, Janet and John had built up sufficient equity in their home and thought it might be a good idea to tap some of it with a reverse mortgage loan. It’s not that they needed it. They just liked the idea of having it, kind of like having snow chains or jumper cables in your trunk for emergencies.

“Getting a reverse mortgage doesn’t mean you’re rich or poor,” Janet said. “You still own your home. It helps decrease any financial concerns that you may have. We worked very hard for our money, and now we wanted to start using some of our equity while we were alive.”

But even with all they learned and liked about reverse mortgages, they still had their doubts. In their professions, they knew the importance of maintaining a healthy skepticism while gathering and confirming all the facts.

“When we first looked into a reverse mortgage, we thought it was almost too good to be true, as if there was something we were missing or not picking up on,” John said.

In exchange for the tax-free loan they would receive, they understood they would not be required to pay off the negative amortizing loan as long as they continued to live in their home and meet their loan obligations, including maintaining and paying property taxes and homeowners insurance on it.

“The government doesn’t take over your home,” Janet said, reciting some of the loan’s basic features. “You can live in your home as long as you like. If you go to sell, you pay what you owe, and whatever is left over is yours.

“You must still pay your [property] taxes, homeowners insurance premiums and maintain your home, but the way we looked at it, you have to do those things anyway.

“AAG was never asking us for anything more than what’s required of any homeowner.”

After working with their AAG Loan Professional Aline Simon and meeting with an independent, HUD-approved counselor, they applied. “We knew exactly what we were signing up for and what we were getting into,” John said. “There was no hidden agenda. Everything was upfront.”

Janet described the entire reverse mortgage loan process more poetically.

“We kept waiting for our rose-colored glasses to come off,” Janet said. “But they were never cracked, scratched, or broken in any way.”

If Janet and John have one regret, they said it’s that too many seniors are overlooking reverse mortgages as part of their retirement mix.

“It’s too bad more people aren’t looking at it as a way to boost their retirement,” John said. “I can’t say one negative thing about them. Everything we understood about them has come true.

But Janet and John’s tale of retirement success didn’t stop there. In many ways, it was just beginning.

After braving many Wyoming winters, they were in search of warmer climes with a small-town feel. They entertained Mesquite and Laughlin, Nev., as possible new hometowns but kept looking for a third. While watching “Wheel of Fortune” one night, the first contestant said he was from Pahrump, Nev., a town about 60 miles west of Las Vegas. To get there you cross the Spring Mountains, directions that locals have shortened to, “Go over the hump to Pahrump.”

Unfamiliar with the town, John and Janet grabbed their atlas and were in town three weeks later. They immediately fell in love with this desert oasis on the cusp of California and Death Valley.

“I can’t tell you how friendly everyone was, and how thankful they were for the veterans,” Janet said about her first impression of the town.

The couple found a lovely home on a cul-de-sac, which they financed with another reverse mortgage loan, called a HECM for Purchase. They put down about half of the purchase price and financed the rest with the HECM (the government-insured reverse mortgage loan).

In the two years since John and Janet purchased their home, it has appreciated about $150,000.

“Frankly, we were shocked,” Janet confessed, describing their home’s dramatic rise in price.

When the shock wore off, they knew exactly what to do when Aline reached out again to let them know their good credit and the appreciation of their home entitled them to a line of credit. They asked Aline to get started on their reverse mortgage refinance*, this one as a line of credit that they could use at their discretion.

Asked to describe how they feel after their third reverse mortgage with AAG, John and Janet said they felt “happy, secure, and content.”

“It’s money we can keep in our pockets so we can enjoy our later years in life,” John said.

“Our lives,” Janet added, “are better because of AAG.”

A tale too good to be true? Go over the hump to Pahrump and see for yourself. Or better still, ask your reverse mortgage loan professional or financial advisor if a reverse mortgage could be right for you.

To find out if a reverse mortgage loan is right for you, click here.

*By refinancing, a customer’s total finance charges may be higher over the life of the loan.

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