George A. Downey, a longtime reverse-mortgage lender, walked into a seminar designed to help people explore creative financing alternatives in an attempt to avoid default and foreclosure. "There were some older folks in the room, but nothing was ever offered about a reverse mortgage being a possibility," said Downey, founder of Braintree, Mass.-based Harbor Mortgage. "The numbers have to work, but if they do, it can be a godsend for them. The current mortgage is paid off; they keep the house; and they have no future payments. …" According to the United States Bureau of the Census and the National Center for Health Statistics, the older population -- persons 65 years of age and older -- numbered 35 million in 2000. While the years since the last census have altered the numbers, it showed the over-65 group represented 12.4 percent of the population -- about one in every eight Americans. The census data showed nearly 80 percent of the nation's seniors own...
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