Older Americans who own Orlando real estate are not immune to the foreclosure process
Many Americans that are 55+, grew up thinking that real estate in Orlando would only appreciate in value and that you need to own a house to be financially secure. That way of thinking was passed on from there parents and was shared by just about everyone else in that generation. Unfortunately, according to AARP Senior Americans got in just as much hot water as the younger generations.
The perception is that older Americans are more housing secure than younger people, but the truth is that millions of Americans that are over the age of 55 are carrying more mortgage debt than ever before, over three million of which are at risk of losing their homes. And as of December 2011, approximately 3.5 million loans of people age 55+ were upside down, meaning that their home is worth less than the loan amount. From 2007 to 2011, a staggering 1.5 million + older Americans lost their homes to foreclosure.
Even though older Americans still have lower foreclosure rates than people that are under 55, they are increasing at an alarming rate.
Older Americans weren’t immune to the Orlando real estate boom and bust. They took out equity lines of credit when Orlando property values shot up, sold their homes for retail prices and purchased investment properties that floundered just like everybody else.
The biggest difference here is that if you’re under 55 and lose your house to foreclosure, you still have time to get back on your feet through hard work and perseverance. Older Americans don’t have this option because the truth of the matter is that time is not on their side. When I think about Older people losing their homes to foreclosure, it literally brings tears to my eyes, it’s just really sad.
For generations, home ownership has been a safety net in retirement, the report notes. Equity that built up over decades could be tapped for medical bills, supplement fixed incomes or help transition into an assisted living facility. If a senior needs to transition to an assisted living facility but can’t sell his house to get the money to pay for it, then that’s a huge problem.
Gail Matillo, director of elder housing for the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, recommends seniors call a local aging resource center if they are having trouble with house payments. The statewide hot line is 800-863-5337.