BOSTON, (WWLP) – Hundreds of senior citizens seeking financial stability through reverse mortgages could miss out unless the Massachusetts Legislature acts to extend a COVID emergency order.

The order in question, according to industry experts like George A. Downey from Harbor Mortgage  Solutions, was one that allowed counseling of reverse mortgages to be done remotely. That order expired on December 15th, and Massachusetts law without the order requires in-person counseling for all reverse mortgage applicants. Massachusetts is the only state in the nation that does not allow reverse mortgage counseling by phone or videoconference.

Currently proposed house bill H1146 would make telephone and video counseling permanent. That bill is currently pending since its referral to the Joint Committee on Financial Services.

“If they [the legislature] do nothing, the ability of hundreds of seniors to leverage the equity in their homes during this extremely stressful time will be rendered impossible.  There is no rational reason why Massachusetts should be so out of step with every other state when it comes to giving seniors flexibility in arranging for safe and effective reverse mortgage advice,” Downey said.

According to a statement sent to WWLP by Harbor Mortgage Solutions, there are only 8 reverse mortgage counselors currently licensed in the state and none of them are currently seeing clients in-house due to the rapidly spreading omicron variant of COVID-19.

It is estimated that 1,500 seniors in Massachusetts annually utilize reverse mortgages as a signifcant percentage of their household income.