Getting older now means more housing distress

Tue Jun 22, 2010 4:57pm EDT
 
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By Lynn Adler

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Amma Holmes expected to pay off the mortgage on her Tampa, Florida, home in the next few years. Instead, she lost her job and her two adult sons have moved back in to help pay her bills.

She isn't alone.

For the first time in generations, getting older means carrying more mortgage debt and less savings into retirement, thanks to the housing crash and rising joblessness among those 45 and older.

The average age of borrowers seeking foreclosure prevention help from CredAbility, a national nonprofit credit counseling agency based in Atlanta, rose this year to 48 from 46 last year, and 43 in 2006.

Holmes, 53, modified her mortgage earlier this year, cutting monthly payments by $375 a month. But she lost her job at Tampa General Hospital, and her sons moved in to help pay the debt.

"In 2014, my house would have been paid for," she said, but the end date is now 2036 after the modification. "I feel good about the modification, but it's like starting all over again."

Holmes originally bought her home in 1993. But she refinanced with an adjustable-rate mortgage in 2006, and then struggled to make payments when her hours were reduced.

With the wage cut, "I was always behind, with my paycheck what it was. I didn't have that much to pay," said Holmes, who is looking for a new position at the hospital where she worked for over 20 years.   Continued...