Federally insured reverse mortgages grew by 77% in fiscal year 2006, according to the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association.The Federal Housing Administration insured 76,351 Home Equity Conversion Mortgages in fiscal 2006 (ended Sept. 30), compared with 43,131 the year before. NRMLA attributed the dramatic growth to several factors, including high home appreciation rates that allow senior citizens to access greater amounts of equity; a growing number of lenders offering the product; and greater acceptance of reverse mortgages as a wealth management tool. "More seniors are recognizing that traditional retirements tools, such as IRAs, pensions, and 401(k)s, are not providing sufficient income to help fund everyday living expenses and health care," said Peter Bell, president of NRMLA. The Santa Ana, Calif., metropolitan area displaced Los Angeles as the top reverse mortgage market in the country, with 5,825 loans funded versus 3,067 in 2005, NRMLA reported. A reverse mortgage is a loan that enables homeowners 62 or older to borrow against the equity in their home without having to sell it or give up title. NRMLA can be found online at http://www.nrmlaonline.org.

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