Monthly Archives: August 2018

“Warming up to HECM mortgages”, Mike Taylor

FINANCIAL ADVISOR CHANGES HIS MIND ABOUT HECM MORTGAGES

By Michael Taylor — Michael Taylor is a columnist for the San Antonio Express-News and author of “The Financial Rules For New College Graduates.” (Click on this link for more on Taylor’s credentials).

August 24, 2018 Updated: August 24, 2018 7:20am

A reader named Jesse, 73, called to relay his experience trying to get a reverse mortgage on his house, and to ask for my advice.

He’d seen advertisements by Tom Selleck for a company called American Advisors Group and it seemed to fit his financial circumstances. A reverse mortgage, sometimes called a home equity conversion mortgage, is only available to homeowners over age 62.

Home equity, I should clarify, is the difference between the value of a house and the amount of debt on the house. That means a $300,000 house with a $100,000 mortgage has $200,000 in home equity. A reverse mortgage is a kind of home equity loan, specifically to borrow in old age without having to make payments, if you don’t want to. For Jesse, his idea was to use the money he could pull out of his house to help pay for taxes and insurance in the coming years.

I had never paid much attention to reverse mortgages, although I’d previously had a vaguely negative feeling about them.

In the course of following up on Jesse’s inquiry, I learned two unique and kind of awesome features of reverse mortgages which I have never seen in any other loan product.

First, a borrower can decide to never make any principal and interest payment on the loan. For life! The debt accrues interest of course, meaning it grows over time, but the borrower can choose to never pay on that interest or principal. The lender gets paid back eventually, when the house is either sold or the owner dies, but in the meantime the loan doesn’t require any payments. Ever. I’ve never seen that loan structure before.

Second, as long as the homeowner complies with the mortgage agreement – which means staying current on taxes and insurance – neither the homeowner nor the homeowner’s spouse can be evicted from the house. Ever. It’s a bank loan backed by collateral, but the bank can’t take the collateral for the life of the borrowers. This is also something I’ve never seen before.ll describe my three previous issues with reverse mortgages, as well as my evolving views.

My first worry was that as a relatively unusual loan product, consumers could be more likely to make bad choices about a thing they don’t understand very well. Even a traditional home mortgage can seem complex but it resembles other products we’re familiar with, like an automobile loan or a personal loan.

A reverse mortgage, by contrast, acts a bit like a retirement account or annuity, in that you can take money out over time as you get older. It’s also a bit like a credit card or home equity line of credit, in that it “revolves,” meaning you can take money out but also pay it back as often as you like. But it’s also different than a credit card or home equity loan, because you don’t have to pay it back with regular or even any payments (until you die). One of my guiding principles of finance is simplicity. Reverse mortgages may be a complicated form of debt for some people, and complicated is the enemy of the good.

Somewhat reducing my fear, however, is that every prospective reverse mortgage borrower must take a financial counseling course by phone, mandated by the Federal Housing Authority (FHA), which regulates reverse mortgages. Guy Stidham, owner of Mortgage of Texas and Financial LLC, a San Antonio-based mortgage broker who offers both traditional and reverse mortgages, says these courses cost about $150 and take a few weeks to schedule, which serves as a kind of “cooling off” function for prospective borrowers. (Disclosure: I have done consulting projects for Stidham in the past.)

My second worry was that reverse mortgage would be niche-y, high cost products for borrowers. This fear turns out to be somewhat unfounded, although there’s some nuance to the cost issue.

Joe DeMarkey, Strategic Business Development Leader of Reverse Mortgage Funding, a reverse mortgage lender, estimated fixed rates now between 4.375 and 5.125 percent, in the same ballpark as a traditional 30-year mortgage. So, I should not have been so worried about high interest rates on fixed loans.

Technically, however, DeMarkey points out that 80 percent of reverse mortgages have floating interest rates. With floating rate loans, the initial interest rate often starts out reasonably low but there’s always a risk that future higher interest rates make that same debt more expensive later.

Also, Stidham allows that a broker like him can be compensated more by the lender to sell a reverse mortgage in part because they are a less competitive product. His fee for brokering a reverse mortgage could be up to 3 times higher than with a traditional mortgage.

My third problem with reverse mortgages was that they clashed with my traditional view of the incredible wealth building potential of home ownership – a way to automatically build up a store of wealth by making affordable monthly principal and interest payments on your house over a few decades. Because reverse mortgages drain that value over time, they made me want shout “Wait…But that’s…that’s not how it’s supposed to work!”

But, you know, I can evolve. It remains a noble goal to fully pay off your home mortgage, and we should all aspire to do that. But that’s not reality for everyone in retirement. Reality for many is that accessing the equity built up in our house, without selling it, might be a key to living comfortably in old age.

As my wife reminded me recently, one of my other long-standing theories of personal finance is that kids shouldn’t inherit stuff. Since we don’t intend to bequeath our house to our girls, I shouldn’t be opposed to draining the house of our home equity once we hit our 70s or 80s. At that age, the goal shouldn’t be to continuously build up assets (For what? For whom?) but rather to spend money to make our lives better.

If we planned to stay in our house, my wife and I recently agreed we’d be open to a reverse mortgage in our 70s.

Does this seem like your circumstances?”

For detailed information about whether you should entertain a reverse mortgage (Home Equity Mortgage Conversion (HECM)), open the “information” tab on the home page for contact information, and answers to your questions. There’s lots of information on this webpage designed to help solve your questions. Thank you for considering HECM. “I’d be happy to support you — talking to me won’t cost you anything at all,” Warren Strycker, veteran mortgage professional. (928 345-1200)

 

 

Half of retirement savers are “Chasers” who are behind on savings goals

July 31, 2018

Anxious Savers Want to Catch Up, but Worry They May Be Too Late

Key Findings Snapshot:

85% of Chasers worry that if they don’t increase savings soon, it will be too late for them to have a comfortable retirement

54% of Chasers say they have too many other expenses right now to save for retirement

84% of Chasers say they are interested in a financial product that offers growth potential with some protection from loss

MINNEAPOLIS, July 31, 2018 – Although 90% of active retirement savers agree that accumulating enough savings is an important factor in their ability to enjoy their future retirement, a significant subset of these Americans is worried they’re already too far behind to reach their savings goals. According to the Chasing Retirement Study* from Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America (Allianz Life®) of Americans age 45-65 actively saving for retirement, these “Chasers,” who make up half (49%) of the total respondents, think they need to catch up on their retirement savings but need help to understand potential solutions to close their savings gap.

For the purposes of this study, Chasers are defined as those who are saving but have either fallen behind on where they should be, wish they could accumulate savings faster, or worry that if they don’t increase savings soon it will be too late to have a comfortable retirement. More than eight in 10 (85%) Chasers feel they have fallen behind where they should be in saving for retirement compared to just 4% of non-Chasers, and the same percentage worry it will be too late for them to have a comfortable retirement if they don’t increase their savings soon (versus 2% for non-Chasers). The vast majority of Chasers (98%) also say they wish there was a way they could accumulate funds faster to make up for lost time versus 41% for non-Chasers, but nearly two-thirds (63%) of Chasers also say they can’t take the risk of investing in high risk/high reward financial products.

“Among those Americans actively saving for retirement, our study finds a dramatic difference between those who feel on track and those who feel behind, with this subset wishing for ways to catch up but without taking on too much risk,” said Paul Kelash, vice president of Consumer Insights for Allianz Life.  “While it’s a positive that they are actively saving for retirement, the level of anxiety is concerning and many are simply not aware of potential solutions to help them catch up.”

Despite having a mean retirement portfolio of more than $400,000, Chasers struggle to keep up with their retirement savings goals and may need more education about financial products. More than half (54%) say they have too many other expenses right now and one in five say they are saving for other financial goals. As a result, two-thirds of Chasers fear they will run out of money in retirement, and more than six in 10 (61%) believe they will need to keep working instead of retiring.

In addition, Chasers own fewer financial products. Only 53% of Chasers have an individual retirement account (IRA), and even fewer own individual stocks (35%), mutual funds (35%), have a pension (37%) or own an annuity (14%). In contrast, a full 70% of confident savers own an IRA while more also own individual stocks (56%), mutual funds (51%), have a pension (53%) or own an annuity (28%).

Although the fastest way to accumulate funds may be to take on more investment risk, Chasers are not very interested in that approach. Only 34% of Chasers said the only way to save enough for a comfortable retirement is “to invest in high risk/high reward financial products.” Instead, Chasers gravitate toward protection as part of their growth options. More than eight in 10 Chasers (84%) say they are interested in a financial product that offers growth potential with some protection from loss, and 71% of Chasers are willing to trade off some upside growth potential to have some protection from losses.

“Although Chasers will likely need to be more aggressive in order to catch up on their retirement savings goals, they still need to maintain some focus on protection because they are closer to retirement,” noted Kelash. “A financial professional can help them determine the right mix of financial products.”

In fact, Chasers are less likely than non-Chasers to say they are currently working with a financial professional. Only 39% of Chasers are currently working with a financial professional, compared to over half (53%) of their more confident counterparts. “Working with a financial professional can help Chasers understand how they could take on more risk, yet still have protection in their portfolio,” added Kelash.

For those behind on their retirement goals, consider the HECM for a big part of your solution. This mortgage rids you of past mortgages, cleans the deck so to speak and doesn’t hold you accountable. Your home/property will stand the debt after you are gone. No one else is held accountable. The lender has his protection too. Using home equity for retirement is smart, legal and available if you have built a home equity wall of security against the very thing you fear. Use it in pride — like much of the citizens worldwide are doing. Give this solution a chance to get you back on the road to solvency. Don’t let the worry warts rule your decisions” says veteran mortgage professional, Warren Strycker. See “Information” tab for additional contacts. “This solution has been tried and tested and brings the USA government into the mix to make sure it protects your interests. All it takes is your attention and trust that you have done the right thing,” says Strycker. “Stop your hand wringing. The time to act is now”, Strycker concludes.

 

Social Security is running out of money — Stossel

John Stossel

Posted: Aug 15, 2018 12:01 AM (Stossel works nights).

Social Security is running out of money.

You may not believe that, but it’s a fact.

That FICA money taken from your paycheck was not saved for you in a “trust fund.” Politicians misled us. They spent every penny the moment it came in.

This started as soon as they created Social Security. They assumed that FICA payments from young workers would cover the cost of sending checks to older people. After all, at the time, most Americans died before they reached 65.

Now, however, people keep living longer. There just aren’t enough young people to cover my Social Security checks.

So Social Security is going broke. This year, the program went into the red for the first time.

Presidents routinely promise to fix this problem.

George W. Bush said he’d “strengthen and save” Social Security. Barack Obama said he’d “safeguard” it, and Donald Trump said that he’ll “save” it.

But none has done anything to save it.

“There is a plan out there to save it, but it requires some tough choices,” says Heritage Foundation budget analyst Romina Boccia.

Heritage proposes cutting payments to rich people and raising the retirement age to 70.

Good luck with that. Seniors vote. Most vote against politicians who suggest cutting benefits.

This summer, interviewing people for my new video about Social Security’s coming bankruptcy, was the first time I had heard the majority of such a group say they were aware there is a problem. One said, “We’re already at a trillion dollars (deficit) … (I)t’s almost like a big Ponzi scheme.”

Actually, more like a pyramid scheme. Ponzi schemes secretly take your money. But the Social Security trick is written into the law — there for anyone who bothers to look.

Social Security isn’t the only hard choice ahead of us. Medicare will run out of money in just eight years. At that point, benefits will automatically be cut. Social Security hits its wall in 15 years.

Amazingly, as we approach this disaster, Democrats say — spend even more.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., proudly announced, “Nearly every Democrat in the United States Senate has voted in favor of expandingSocial Security.”

How would they pay for it? “Raise taxes on the wealthy!” is the usual answer.

I tried that on Boccia: “Just raise taxes on the rich!”

“There isn’t enough money, even that the rich would have,” she countered, “to pay for the $200 trillion in unfunded liabilities.”

One partial solution proposed by Heritage and others is to let younger workers put some of their Social Security money into their own personal retirement accounts.

“Imagine being able to own and control your own retirement dollars,” urged Boccia, with genuine excitement. “You could invest it in businesses, grow the economy, whatever rocks your boat.”

If history is any guide, private accounts would almost certainly pay retirees more than Social Security will ever pay.

“Even a conservative portfolio of stocks and bonds that got you about a 5 percent annual return, you would make many times more,” said Boccia.

Editor’s Note: “A recent effort by the President’s daughter (She’s a “well heeled” boomer it’s not her fault) aims at draining social security even more — tapping social security to pay mother’s to stay home when babies are born to them, so the world’s mother’s will vote against you if you take Social Security, Consider HECM here. Tap into home equity as soon as possible.”

Big GDP numbers impact housing market, drive up appraisals, cash benefits

August 10, 2018 by Korene Clopine-Seaman

Positive economic growth numbers are always cause for celebration and the second quarter GDP just went vertical. After nearly four years of sub-par growth, the real GDP hit 4.1 percent in the second quarter.

While that economic news has everyday Americans excited that we may be entering a new age of prosperity, drawing a concrete link to the real estate market may be difficult. But by looking long and hard at this uptick and its potential impact on housing, you may get a better idea about buying, selling or standing pat on residential and commercial property.

GDP Report Points To Demand

Among the positive measures from the recent economic report, consumption enjoyed a positive increase. The first quarter numbers were disappointingly sluggish in this area at a modest 0.5 percent. The second quarter took off like a rocket, by comparison, at 2.25 percent.

Although that figure shows an upwardly mobile economy, some experts are calling it discouraging given the extraordinary consumer confidence that has risen to record highs of more than 101.0 since November 2017. This opinion begs the question: why are economy gurus disappointed?

The first part of that answer has to do with the implementation of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that is putting more money in American paychecks and rolled back income tax liability. Many economists forecast that this personal wealth growth would turn into solid consumption. While working families have enjoyed a breather in terms of scratching from paycheck to paycheck, home purchases have not gone through the roof.

Home availability remains relatively low. With Millennials scooping up many of the starter-home listings and Baby Boomers downsizing, a significant housing shortfall exists. If you have ever heard the term “seller’s market,” this is it.

Inventory Shortage Means Buy Quickly

There are always naysayers that point to lower than expected consumption and claim the economy is weak. The facts in the GDP report clearly dispute any such ideas.

Business investment spiked to a powerful 11.5 percent and then 7.3 percent in the first two quarters. Fixed business investment is on fire based on deregulation, soaring profits and confidence.

That’s why real estate resources are saying that the only thing holding the market back is inventory. Home sale data is not keeping pace with other sectors of the economy because there simply is not enough inventory to keep up with demand. For first-time buyers, this means get prequalified and act swiftly if you find a dream home. It won’t stay on the market long.

Prospective homebuyers may be relieved to know that positive construction indicators are trending. New homes are expected to improve the inventory shortage heading into 2019. Still, demand is likely to stay ahead of inventory.

Editor’s note: If you are thinking about a HECM Reverse Mortgage to draw some cash out of your home equity,  you may be favored with a higher appraisal resulting in a larger cash benefit. The fact that you will get rid of a mortgage payment may be enough to take the bait now. You can discuss this with your HECM lender. That would be Warren Strycker for Patriot Lending. Contact and credential information can be found on the information tab on the home page. Call 928 345-1200 with your questions.

 

The rate of people 65 and older filing for bankruptcy is three times what it was in 1991

By Tara Siegel Bernard

Aug. 5, 2018

For a rapidly growing share of older Americans, traditional ideas about life in retirement are being upended by a dismal reality: bankruptcy.

The signs of potential trouble — vanishing pensions, soaring medical expenses, inadequate savings — have been building for years. Now, new research sheds light on the scope of the problem: The rate of people 65 and older filing for bankruptcy is three times what it was in 1991, the study found, and the same group accounts for a far greater share of all filers.

Driving the surge, the study suggests, is a three-decade shift of financial risk from government and employers to individuals, who are bearing an ever-greater responsibility for their own financial well-being as the social safety net shrinks.

The transfer has come in the form of, among other things, longer waits for full Social Security benefits, the replacement of employer-provided pensions with 401(k) savings plans and more out-of-pocket spending on health care. Declining incomes, whether in retirement or leading up to it, compound the challenge.

Cheryl Mcleod of Las Vegas filed for bankruptcy in January after struggling to keep up with her mortgage payments and other expenses. “I am 70, and I am working for less money than I ever did in my life,” she said. “This life stuff happens.”

As the study, from the Consumer Bankruptcy Project, explains, older people whose finances are precarious have few places to turn. “When the costs of aging are off-loaded onto a population that simply does not have access to adequate resources, something has to give,” the study says, “and older Americans turn to what little is left of the social safety net — bankruptcy court.”

“You can manage O.K. until there is a little stumble,” said Deborah Thorne, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Idaho and an author of the study. “It doesn’t even take a big thing.”

The forces at work affect many Americans, but older people are often less able to weather them, according to Professor Thorne and her colleagues in the study. Finding, and keeping, one job is hard enough for an older person. Taking on another to pay unexpected bills is almost unfathomable.

Bankruptcy can offer a fresh start for people who need one, but for older Americans it “is too little too late,” the study says. “By the time they file, their wealth has vanished and they simply do not have enough years to get back on their feet.”

The data gathered by the researchers is stark. From February 2013 to November 2016, there were 3.6 bankruptcy filers per 1,000 people 65 to 74; in 1991, there were 1.2.

Not only are more older people seeking relief through bankruptcy, but they also represent a widening slice of all filers: 12.2 percent of filers are now 65 or older, up from 2.1 percent in 1991.

The jump is so pronounced, the study says, that the aging of the baby boom generation cannot explain it.

Although the actual number of older people filing for bankruptcy was relatively small — about 100,000 a year during the period in question — the researchers said it signaled that there were many more people in financial distress.

“The people who show up in bankruptcy are always the tip of the iceberg,” said Robert M. Lawless, a law professor at the University of Illinois and another author of the study.

The next generation nearing retirement age is also filing for bankruptcy in greater numbers, and the average age of filers is rising, the study found.

Given the rate of increase, Professor Thorne said, “the only explanation that makes anysense are structural shifts.”

Ms. Mcleod said she had managed to get by for a while after separating from her husband several years ago. Eventually, though, she struggled to make ends meet on her income alone, and she fell behind on her mortgage payments.

She collects a small Social Security check and works at an adult day care center for people with intellectual disabilities and mental health problems. For $8.75 an hour, she makes sure clients participate in daily activities, calms them when they are irritated and tries to understand what they need when they have trouble expressing themselves.

“When I moved here from Los Angeles, I was wondering why all of these older people were working in convenience stores and fast-food restaurants,” she said. “It’s because they don’t make enough in retirement to support themselves.”

Ms. Mcleod said she hoped that filing for bankruptcy would help her catch up on her mortgage so she could stay in her home. “I am too old to move out of here,” she said. “I am trying to stay stable.”

For about one in three older people who receive Social Security benefits, their monthly check accounts for 90 percent of their income, according to the Social Security Administration. Spending by those over 65 by income is based on Medicare beneficiaries, most of whom are 65 and over; the remainder are younger and disabled. | Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

The bankruptcy project is a long-running effort now led by Professor Thorne; Professor Lawless; Pamela Foohey, a law professor at Indiana University; and Katherine Porter, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine. The project — which is financed by their universities — collects and analyzes court records on a continuing basis and follows up with written questionnaires.

Their latest study —which was posted online on Sunday and has been submitted to an academic journal for peer review — is based on a sample of personal bankruptcy cases and questionnaires completed by 895 filers ages 19 to 92.

The questionnaire asked filers what led them to seek bankruptcy protection. Much like the broader population, people 65 and older usually cited multiple factors. About three in five said unmanageable medical expenses played a role. A little more than two-thirds cited a drop in income. Nearly three-quarters put some blame on hounding by debt collectors.

[The Times’s guide to retirement savings answers your questions about financing life after you stop working.]

The study does not delve into those underlying factors, but separate data provides some insight. The median household led by someone 65 or older had liquid savings of $60,600 in 2016, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, whereas the bottom 25 percent of households had saved at most $3,260.

That doesn’t provide much of a financial cushion for a catastrophic health problem. Older Americans typically turn to Medicare to pay their medical bills. But gaps in coverage, high premiums and requirements that patients shoulder some costs force many lower-income beneficiaries to spend more of their own income on those bills, the Kaiser Family Foundation found.

By 2013, the average Medicare beneficiary’s out-of-pocket spending on health care consumed 41 percent of the average Social Security check, according to Kaiser, which also estimated that the figure would rise.

More people are also entering their later years carrying debt. For many of them, at least some of the debt is a mortgage — roughly 41 percent in 2016, compared with 21 percent in 1989, according to an Urban Institute analysis.

And those who are carrying debt into retirement are carrying more than members of earlier generations, an analysis by the Employee Benefit Research Institute found.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the lowest-income households led by individuals 55 or older carry the highest debt loads relative to their income. More than 13 percent of such households face debt payments that equal more than 40 percent of their income, nearly double the percentage of such families in 1991, the

Older Americans’ finances are also being strained by the needs of those around them.

A little more than a third of the older filers who answered the researchers’ questionnaire said that helping others, like children or older parents, had contributed to their seeking bankruptcy protection. Marc Stern, a bankruptcy lawyer in Seattle, said he had seen the phenomenon again and again.

Some parents, Mr. Stern said, had co-signed loans for $10,000 or $20,000 for adult children and suddenly could no longer afford them. “When you are living on $2,000 a month and that includes Social Security — and you have rent and savings are minuscule — it is extremely difficult to recover from something like that,” he said.

Others had co-signed their children’s student loans. “I never saw parents with student loans 20 or 30 years ago,” Mr. Stern said.

“It is not uncommon to see student loans of $100,000,” he added. “Then, you see parents who have guaranteed some of these loans. They are no longer working, and they have these student loans that are difficult if not impossible to pay or discharge in bankruptcy, and these are the kids’ loans.”

Keith Morris, chief executive of Elder Law of Michigan, which runs a legal hotline for older adults, said the prospect of bankruptcy was a regular topic for his callers.

“They worked all of their lives, and did what they were supposed to do,” he said, “and through circumstances like a late-life divorce or a death of a spouse or having to raise grandkids, have put them in a situation where they are not able to make the bills.”

For Lawrence Sedita, a 74-year-old former carpenter now living in Las Vegas, the problems began when he lost his health insurance about two years ago. He said he had been on disability since 1991, when a double pack of 12-foot drywall fell on his head at work.

After his union, the New York City District Council of Carpenters, changed the eligibility requirements for his medical, dental and prescription drug insurance, he lost his coverage.

Mr. Sedita, who has Parkinson’s disease, said his medical expenses had risen exponentially. (A spokesman for the union declined to comment.)

A medication that helps reduce the shaking — a Parkinson’s symptom — rose to $1,100 every three months from $70, Mr. Sedita said. “I haven’t taken my medicine in three months since I can’t afford it,” he added.

He said he and his wife, who has cancer, filed for bankruptcy in June after living off their credit cards for a time. Their financial difficulty, he said, “has drained everything out of me.”

Gofinancial’s chief editor, Warren Strycker, is in that age group and works to help people in a financial bind in retirement years. He has a HECM mortgage on his own home to verify his belief system that using home equity is smart and safe for seniors who live longer than their retirement plan provided. The HECM plan is regulated by FHA/HUD and currently serves some 50,000 elderly homeowners annually, aged 62 or more,  in the United States.

“It seems to me,” Strycker says, “that a pretty solid case can be made to seniors that using home equity to defend these families from bankruptcy, comes with a lot of logic — talk to me.” For contact information, press  the “Information” tab on the home page.

Turned down for a loan? Let us get you approved when other banks say NO!

Patriot Lending meets Struggling Middle Class seniors with innovative financial tools

Editor’s Note: Patriot Lending and Capital Solutions of Miami Lakes, FL has stepped up their lending to support middle class seniors who are entering retirement now and to give them financial tools when financial ends don’t meet as the cost of living continues to rise against an income that doesn’t. Patriot Lending is launching a capital branch to support seniors who need financing to Fix n Flip real estate and other projects that will fill in the income gaps during retirement years. The HECM mortgage opens up home equity to support reduction of debt and income shortages. This in an effort to provide solutions to tight budgets and limiting income. The following describes the fix a lot of elder retirees find themselves in coming out of (or not) the recent recession.

 

America’s wealth gap between middle-income and upper-income families is [the] widest on record.”  So reads the title of a Pew Research Center analysis by Richard Fry and Rakesh Kochhar that sheds new light on the persisting anxiety of middle-class Americans.

The analysis offers a useful definition of wealth as the difference between a family’s assets and debt.  Wealth is an important dimension of household well-being, notes Fry, because “it’s a measure of a family’s ‘nest egg’ and can be used to sustain consumption during emergencies (for example, job layoffs) as well as provide income during retirement.”  Wealth is an index both of resiliency in the face of shocks and of preparation for the future.

In the 30 years that the Federal Reserve Board has been collecting these data, the gap between upper-income and middle-class families has rough doubled.  In 1983, the median net worth of upper-income families was 3.4 times that of their middle-income counterparts.  In 2013, that figure stood at 6.6 times.  Although the increase occurred by fits and starts throughout the past three decades, it accelerated dramatically during the Great Recession and its aftermath.

The key point, however, is not that the ratio doubled but why.  Corrected for inflation, the median wealth of upper-income families has doubled since 1983, from $318,000 to $639,000.  By contrast, the median wealth of middle-class families has stagnated during that period–$94,000 in 1983, $96,000 today.  To be sure, middle-class wealth increased to $158,000 between 1983 and 2007 but the Great Recession reversed that gain, and the middle class has not participated significantly in the stock market surge that began in mid-2009.

While we should welcome the increased pace of job creation and early signs of wage gains, the middle class is unlikely to regain a sense of security until the nest eggs of average families reclaim the ground they have lost since the onset of the Great Recession.

 

To have a conversation with a Patriot Lending professional, access contact information on the home page navigation bar.