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Elderly woman seeks quick cash for home repairs

Choosing between home equity loan and reverse mortgage

DEAR BOB: My stubborn mother, 78, owns her home free and clear, is alert and in quite good health. The house is worth about $450,000. When I recently visited her (I live about 1,500 miles away so don't get to see her often), I was shocked at how run down her house has become. The roof leaks. I could smell the mold. She finally admitted to me, after a glass or two of champagne at Sunday brunch, that she has outlived her assets, except for Social Security and a small pension. When I suggested a reverse mortgage, which you often recommend, she said her banker recommends a home equity loan to pay for a new roof and other repairs. She wants to stay in her house "forever," especially because she loves her garden. What do you suggest? --Thomas R. DEAR THOMAS: The big drawback of a home equity credit line is it requires monthly payments of at least interest only. If your mother is on limited income, how will she be able to afford the monthly interest payments? Purchase Bob Bruss reports onlin...

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