Credit issues are not cool, but reverse mortgages are

Susan Lee has seen a lot in her years as mortgage adviser in Greater Vancouver, but what still surprises her is how people view credit.

“Probably the biggest thing is that people are not properly educated about credit,” she says, and tells the story of a 28-year-old teacher earning upwards of $75,000 a year but still using her father’s credit card — and had no credit rating.

“She couldn’t get a mortgage,” says Lee. “Sometimes I think they should teach this in Grade 12 or something.”

Another concern is when people obsess over how much they can borrow. “They always want to know how much they qualify for, and start thinking in those terms. They have to ask themselves if they really want to carry that much in a mortgage,” she says.

The bare minimum right now is to be pre-approved for a mortgage, says Lee, adding that it’s wise to have a financial assessment before venturing into the realm of mortgages and pre-approval and locking down a rate for 90 days.

And as boomers retire and sell the million-dollar homes and move to smaller communities, they’re often helping out their millennial offspring, which is making reverse mortgages — where homeowners can access their equity — trendy and kind of cool.

“That negative connotation is gone — it’s a solution now,” she says.