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The Importance of Home Equity in Retirement Planning

Thursday, June 22, 2017   /   by Vanessa Saunders

The Importance of Home Equity in Retirement Planning

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We often discuss the difference in family wealth between homeowner households and renter households. Much of that difference is the result of the equity buildup that homeowners experience over the time that they own their home. In a report recently released by the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), they reveal how valuable equity can be in retirement planning.

Craig Copeland, Senior Research Associate at EBRI, recently authored a report, Importance of Individual Account Retirement Plans and Home Equity in Family Total Wealth, in which he reveals:

“Individual account retirement plan assets, plus home equity, represent almost all of what families have to use for retirement expenses outside of Social Security and traditional pensions. Those families without individual account assets typically have very low overall assets, so they have almost nothing to draw from for retirement expenses.”

The report echoed the findings of a working paper, Home Equity Patterns among Older American Households, authored by Barbara Butrica and Stipica Mudrazija of Urban Institute. Fannie Mae highlighted these findings for their blog The Home Story this past winter, quoting Butrica and Mudrazija:

 “For most adults near traditional retirement age, a home is their most valuable asset — dwarfing retirement accounts, other financial assets, and other nonfinancial assets. Although relatively few retirees tap into their home equity, having it provides financial security… In fact, many retirement security experts argue that the conventional three-legged stool of retirement resources — Social Security, pensions, and savings — is incomplete because it ignores the home.”

USAToday interviewed two area experts to comment on the EBRI report. Randy Bruns, a private wealth adviser with HighPoint Planning Partners, agreed with the findings:

“Social Security and home equity are major pieces of the retirement puzzle.”

Wade Pfau, Professor of Retirement Income at The American College of Financial Services and author of Reverse Mortgages: How to use Reverse Mortgages to Secure Your Retirement, said having the equity without a plan to use it won’t help:

“Home equity is a very important asset for American retirees, and so it is important to think about how to make best use of home equity in retirement planning.”

Bottom Line

Whether you use the equity in your home through a reverse mortgage or by selling and downsizing to a less expensive home, it should be a crucial piece of your retirement planning.


  home investment, hudson valley real estate, buying vs renting, retirement

Global Property Systems
Vanessa Saunders MBA MIMC CIPS - NYS RE Principal Broker
56 Lafayette Avenue Suite 320
White Plains, NY 10603
914-290-5258

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The data relating to real estate for sale or lease on this web site comes in part from MHMLS. Real estate listings held by brokerage firms other than Vanessa Saunders - Global Property Systems are marked with the MHMLS logo or an abbreviated logo and detailed information about them includes the name of the listing broker. The information appearing herein has not been verified by the Mid-Hudson Multiple Listing Service, Inc. or by any individual(s) who may be affiliated with said entity, all of whom hereby collectively and severally disclaim any and all responsibility for the accuracy of the information appearing at this web site, at any time or from time to time. All such information should be independently verified by the recipient of such data. This data is not warranted for any purpose. ©2019 Mid-Hudson Multiple Listing Service, Inc. All rights reserved.
The data relating to real estate on this website comes, in part, through the IDX of the Multiple Listing Service of Ulster County, Inc. Real estate listings held by brokerage firms other than Vanessa Saunders - Global Property Systems are marked with the IDX logo and detailed information about them includes the name of the listing broker.