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October 9, 2013

Texas voters will decide: should seniors have a new option for reverse mortgages?

Following is a look from the League of Women Voters at two of the nine proposed changes to the Texas Constitution that will be on the Nov. 5 statewide election ballot. Early voting is Oct. 21 to Nov. 1. Registered voters can vote at any county location during early voting. The last day to register is Oct. 7.

AUSTIN – Proposition 5 on the November 5 Constitutional Amendment ballot would allow a Texas senior, age 62 or older, to purchase a new principal residence and obtain a reverse mortgage within a single transaction.

It would also require reverse mortgage lenders to expand currently required counseling to borrowers to include disclosure of the specific behaviors that can lead to foreclosure on a property.

According to Sen. John Carona, the legislative author, Proposition 5 gives “seniors access to reverse mortgages for purchase, a financing tool available nationwide that provides homeowners with the opportunity to save money, while offering flexibility in the purchase of a new home. This law will be unique to Texas, however, in that it offers increased consumer protections, including a 12-day disclosure period.”

Others are concerned that reverse mortgages are complex financial products that consumers struggle to understand. Making good decisions is difficult even after required counseling. Homeowners could lose a lifetime of home equity as a result of fraud, scams, misleading advertising, aggressive sales tactics and discriminatory practices sometimes associated with reverse mortgages.

“To have a say on this and eight other ballot propositions, eligible Texans must vote in the Nov. 5 election,” said Linda Krefting, chair of the League of Women Voters of Texas Education Fund. “For those not already registered to vote, the voter registration deadline for this election is Oct. 7.”

The nonpartisan LWV-Texas Education Fund Voters Guide for the Constitutional Amendment Election with the ballot language, an explanation and balanced arguments for and against each proposition plus helpful information on the new photo ID requirement and other aspects of voting is available online at www.lwvtexas.org and www.VOTE411.org and distributed in print by local Leagues and through many libraries.

A Constitutional Amendment page on www.lwvtexas.org provides additional information on the constitutional amendment process and proposals considered by the 2013 Texas Legislature.

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