“93% of borrowers said that a reverse mortgage had a positive effect in their lives”    –  AARP 

The Three Basics of Reverse Mortgages

1. Never a Monthly Payment:

A HECM is the only mortgage that never requires a payment until you pass away or move out of your home. You are required to always pay taxes and insurance on your home, but whether you take a line of credit, monthly checks, or a lump sum, you will never be required to make a payment during your lifetime as long as you live in your home.

However, you do have the option of making payments if you wish to have more equity than cash.

2. Never Owe More Than What the Home is Worth:

When you permanently move out of the home, whether you have passed away or are still alive, the value of the home is responsible for paying off the mortgage – not your assets or those of your estate or your heirs. AND, whatever value is left belongs to you or your heirs. If there is a deficit, the difference is forgiven, regardless of any other assets you may have. At all times, you or your heirs have the ability to pay off the mortgage and keep the home. If the mortgage is higher than the home value, you can purchase the house back from 95% of the current appraised value.

3. Tax Free Money From Your Home Equity:

A reverse mortgage is simply a financial tool to turn equity in your home into cash that can be used for many different purposes that will enhance and extend your retirement plan. If you have a mortgage currently, it could eliminate your monthly payment and allow you to use that monthly cash flow in a better way than creating equity that is not readily accessible. A Reverse Mortgage is really very similar to an IRA or a pension.

You have spent many years putting the money into a special account called home equity and now you can draw it out, – except without a tax penalty! The mortgage terms are insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and called a HECM (Home Equity Conversion Mortgage)

How Can Reverse Mortgages Help You Today? – Watch Now!

The Top Myths And Misunderstandings

Why is there so much anxiety and so many concerns voiced about reverse mortgages from friends, relatives and the media?

It is very simple. In the beginning before HUD and FHA were involved in the program, there were problems with private reverse mortgages and there was some fraud that happened and hurt some retirees. The program is better and now heavily regulated and much easier to understand than years ago. But some of those old stories are still circulating. People have always been afraid of the dark because there is uncertainty of what is there. You need to turn on the light when there is darkness to find out whether there are dangers or not. When you turn on the light, you will find a very different product –quite unlike the rumors and misunderstandings promoted by the news media and the simple gossip. Some of the people that pass on negative things about reverse mortgages are not mean spirited or purposely lying—they are simply misinformed and it is our job to give you the best education available with the most up to date facts so you can make a clear and unemotional decision. Our loan officers are very experienced and well trained in a variety of senior, real estate and retirement issues so you can feel much more secure about making a decision with one of your most valuable assets – your home. Here is a quick rundown of the top myths we encounter.

MYTH: I could lose my home and be forced to move.

FACT: FHA, the Federal Housing Administration guarantees that you can stay in your home for as long as you maintain the home and pay taxes and insurance.

MYTH: The safest thing is a house “free and clear” 

FACT: In the event of an extended nursing home stay or a lawsuit, all your home equity can be lost that you spent your whole life to create. A reverse mortgage can unlock that equity and allow you to properly manage it for the benefit of your family.

MYTH: Reverse mortgages are too expensive.

FACT: There have been major changes in the HECM FHA program in the last couple of years that dramatically reduced costs. While they are more expensive than a traditional mortgage they are safer and guarantee more than any other mortgage available including no payments and a rising credit line. Quite frankly, you get what you pay for!

MYTH: Your home will be taken away when you pass away and the family loses the rights to the property.

FACT: Because the house is in your name, you or your heirs make the decision to sell or to pay off the mortgage balance. If the mortgage balance is too high, your payoff is limited to the value of the house and the remaining amount is paid by the FHS insurance fund.

MYTH: Only people that are in financial trouble get a reverse mortgage.

FACT: While we enjoy helping people that are in financial trouble, many people use a reverse mortgage as a part of their financial plan to better their lives today and their childrens’ in the future.

MYTH: I will be giving up the deed to my home and I won’t own it anymore. 

FACT: The deed always stays in your name and you have the rights that you do now. You can sell it, remodel it and keep any equity that is left when you move.

MYTH: I can’t afford making a payment on a mortgage – that’s why I don’t have a mortgage now!

FACT: You will have no monthly payments as long as you live in the home – no matter what. You will just pay the taxes and the insurance just like you do now. A reverse mortgage is a “payment optional” mortgage. You can continue to make payments for tax purposes or to manage equity when and for how much you want.

MYTH: My children could get stuck with a big mortgage debt if I live too long.

FACT: Your children can never be liable for any amount over the value of the home because the loan is guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration Mortgage Insurance Fund.

MYTH: Your house must be debt-free to quality for a reverse mortgage.

FACT: You can use a reverse mortgage to pay off a current mortgage provided the loan amount is high enough to cover your balance.


My husband and I were ready to take the next step in our life. We wanted to buy our first home. I knew nothing about buying a house! So I got on the phone and started to call around. Most people I talked to sounded too busy to answer my questions and just wanted me to fill out the application right away.

Then I call Fairway and I spoke with Louise. She was so kind and patient with me.

Jessica H

Marie’s best asset – besides being a top-notch lender ~ she thinks outside the box. If you have a buyer that wants to buy and a seller that wants to sell to that buyer, Marie will get it done… all legally, quickly and painlessly. She just has “that” ability to know how to review a buyer’s qualifications and then package a loan the correct way. She has taken several loan packages that were turned down and examined the faults and made them whole. She knows what the lender is looking for to make it a smooth transaction. I highly recommend Marie to my colleagues and clients.
Jo Anne Wyatt, Windermere

JoAnne W

My wife Becky and I have now purchased 11 homes in the past 43 years. This was the Least painful purchase we have ever experienced.
We really like the way Marie anticipated issues and got ahead of the game regarding needed documentation. The result was a very smooth closing and two very happy customers. Thank you, Marie.

Richard H

For at least three years, we wanted to move from Chattanooga, Tennessee, to the Bellingham, Washington, area. We drove the 2,600 miles twice in the past three years to scope out the area in advance of my June 2017 retirement from teaching.

When we put our house on the market in Chattanooga, our real estate agent suggested Carol Cattle of Windermere Realty who in turn referred us to Marie Bjornson and Fairway Mortgage.

Jim D

As a licensed realtor and homeowner, I consulted with Marie several times in the last couple years. I heartily recommend Marie Bjornson for those interested in easy, no hassle loans. Here is a professional who gets loans approved when most others cannot. Her vast familiarity in all phases of the loan and banking industry, accompanied by her experience as a Lender and a Certified Public Accountant let you know right away that you are dealing with the best. Yet, what makes dealing with Marie Bjornson truly remarkable is her unfailing dedication to you, her client, to make the process simple and to ensure that you do not spend one dime more than necessary. I am always grateful for the kindness and care that Marie gives those I may refer to her.

Bob T

Marie Bjornson and her Fairway Mortgage Team are hard-working, accurate, and thorough. Like many I think, we came in with our own set of challenges and through Marie’s creative thinking, dedication and initiative we were able to secure a mortgage and close on-time. Buying a house and securing a mortgage is nothing less than high-anxiety. I personally had more than one melt-down during the process and Marie and her team were wonderful and patient, talking me through the steps, answering all of my questions and allying the fears that arose.

Felicia J
I want to let you know that I was very impressed with your thoughtfulness and your ability to offer different options based on our goals. I have been getting home loans for 43 years and I’ve never been presented with the information like you presented yesterday.
You know you are my #1 pick, but this was really amazing. Thanks so much for persisting when I thought it was just option 1, 2 or 3. Option four was perfect.
Colleen M

I tried to use Whidbey Island bank long story short, days before closing the underwriters decided not to approve me. They gave several reasons such as recent short sale and potential payment-shock. I was forced to look for a different lender and I’m so thankful to find Marie. Marie and her crew were able to foresee all the potential underwriting concerns and got this same mortgage through without any troubles. My experience with Marie is that she is hardworking, experienced and proactive.  If you are buying a house and especially if you have anything “tricky” with your situation–I highly recommend Marie. Lending now days has tough requirements and it’s nice to have someone as experienced as Marie for help. Today Marie continues to be willing to help me and recently sent a friend to her who had a great experience.

Paulo M

I just closed on a difficult transaction with Marie as the lender and myself as the Seller and Buyer representative. Marie was very creative through the whole process and communicated extraordinaire. I could tell she really cared about the outcome for the client. We closed the transaction and both Seller and Buyer are more than pleased. I would recommend Marie for any financial needs, especially home purchasing.

Jim P

Kathy, our real estate agent, recommended Marie.  We were told she was the best.  Our goal was to get a mortgage for a condo in Birch Bay.  Marie was very creative and was able to think outside the box – she made it happen!  She was able to put all the puzzle pieces together.  We had a very difficult loan to deal with and she was able to get our rental home refinanced, a new car with the payments cut in half and our condo with the ocean view!

Mark M

Marie went way above and beyond the call of duty, 7 days a week, working with me and my realtor to help with numerous offers until we finally got one accepted in this insane market.

Scott N

Marie is an outstanding loan officer.  I’ve turned to her on advice regarding investment loans, reverse mortgages and many other loan types that require a high level of expertise.  She is always “in the know” and gives unconditionally to her clients.  It’s rare to have someone with so much knowledge and a heart of gold.  I would recommend her to anyone!

Keane N

Marie is friendly, professional and efficient. Her office staff complements the comfortable atmosphere she provides in her office. We thoroughly enjoyed meeting her and working with her on our Reverse Mortgage Loan (mortgage conversion).

Judyth S., Your Content Goes Here

Marie Bjornson is the most awesome person to work with. Even when we felt it was a shot in the dark to ever own our own home, Marie assured us we will get there. She held our hand for over a year as we got ourselves in a home buying position. During that time Marie became more like a friend then a lender and her insights made all the difference. We plan on working with Marie again in the future for our next home-buying excursion. Fairway Mortgage in Bellingham is Fabulous!

Michelle D

I just worked with one of the real estate agents that Marie recommends, and am so thrilled. I found the home I wanted but it sold before I could make an offer. A few weeks later that same property came back on the market. My real estate agent (along with Marie) helped me jump on it before others put in offers. I was the first in line with an offer this time and we closed the loan yesterday! (30 days from start to finish)

Also, who would have known there are so many choices and ways to do a loan … I didn’t, even though I have worked for Marie in the past.

Marla V
We are eternally grateful for Marie and her team. They far surpassed our expectations and made our dream home a reality. Marie takes a personal interest in each client’s scenario, and really makes some magic happen! Thanks, you guys! You’re awesome!
Joseph M

What can we say about Marie? We had no Realtor and no prior experience buying a house. We needed some “hand-holding” (understatement). Marie and her team took GREAT care of us! She worked TIRELESSLY to get us a great rate and saw us through the process from beginning to end. Do not hesitate to call her, she is a GEM!! Thank you Marie!

Kim D

THE THREE BUCKETS… and The Sacred Cow of Home Equity

Many people feel that paying off their home and having no mortgage with lots of equity is the Holy Grail of retirement. Several people wait until their home is paid off before they retire and then feel they are safe to do so. The truth is that home equity is good, but it is not great because it is not liquid. In the face of fluctuating home prices along with nursing home and long-term care threats, it is typically better to have your equity in cash and in a form that you can control instead of relying on uncontrollable factors.

With people losing their homes in the depression era of the ‘30s and in the latest round of the housing foreclosure crisis starting in 2008, there are many people who feel that having a paid-off home in retirement is the safest way to go. The fact is that when a reverse mortgage enters the picture, the rules change because there is no payment and no risk of foreclosure as long as you live in the home as your primary residence and pay insurance and property taxes and maintain the home. (Of course you have to pay property taxes even if you don’t have a reverse mortgage.)

Find out if a reverse mortgage is the right option for you. Get personal guidance from a reverse mortgage expert

Reverse Mortgage in Bellingham

Additional HECM Resources to Read

HECM Counselors

1. QuickCert, Inc.
Phone: 888-383-8885

2. Debt Helper – HUD / FHA Counseling
Toll Free Phone: 800-920-2262

3. Smart Money Housing
Phone: 800-403-3807

4. Black Hills Children’s Ranch, Inc (Pioneer Credit Counseling)
Phone: 877-898-7622

5. Horizon Counseling Inc.
Phone: 888-315-4326

6. Navicore Solutions
Phone: 866-855-7356

7. Clearpoint Financial Solutions, Inc
Phone: 877-877-1995

8. Greenpath
Phone: 888-860-4167

9. National Foundation for Credit Counseling
Phone: 866-698-6322