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Proposed Constitutional Amendments
Article By: by Texas State Rep. Larry Phillips
Posted: 9/19/2013 Views: 1691  Impressions: 5347
Categories: Politics

This week's column will be the fifth in a series outlining the proposed constitutional amendments on which Texas voters will decide on November 5. These amendments were joint resolutions that were passed during the recent legislative session; however, because they change the Texas Constitution, they need state-wide voter approval before they can take effect. This information is taken from a report by the House Research Organization, a nonpartisan agency that provides information to the legislature.

Amendment No. 5 (S.J.R. 18)
The constitutional amendment to authorize the making of a reverse mortgage loan for the purchase of homestead property and to amend lender disclosures and other requirements in connection with a reverse mortgage loan.
The proposed amendment would authorize advances under a reverse mortgage for the purchase of homestead property that the borrower will occupy as a principal residence and expand the conditions under which a lender may require repayment of this type of reverse mortgage to include the borrower's failure to timely occupy the homestead property within the specified period. It would prohibit the making of a reverse mortgage unless both the prospective borrower and their spouse complete counseling regarding the advisability and availability of reverse mortgages and other financial alternatives at least 12 days before the closing. S.J.R. 18 would also replace the constitutionally required written notice provided by lenders to borrowers of a reverse mortgage with a separate written notice containing detailed language related to reverse mortgages, including the grounds for which the lender may foreclose the reverse mortgage.
Supporters say it is not uncommon for older homeowners to find themselves in the market for a new home, whether for purposes of downsizing, relocating, or simply lowering the cost of homeownership. To do so, Texas seniors currently must sell one home and purchase another, either by paying in cash or by taking out a new mortgage, in two separate transactions, with separate closing costs on each transaction. The proposed amendment would add a reverse mortgage for purchase option to the reverse mortgage currently available to older homeowners, allowing Texas homeowners age 62 and older, who may be house-rich and income-poor, to sell one property and purchase another in a single transaction using the equity in an existing house to make a cash down payment on a less expensive residence. By combining the selling and buying of the two properties into one transaction and eliminating a set of fees, a homeowner could save several thousand dollars in closing fees.
The proposed amendment would also provide important safeguards for potential reverse mortgage borrowers by requiring detailed disclosures that would include information regarding the consequences, including a possible foreclosure, of the borrower's failure to meet contractual obligations such as payment of property taxes on the home.
A review did not reveal any apparent opposition to the amendment.
You can view a complete list of the proposed constitutional amendments with analyses online at For more information regarding these propositions, you can contact my office by writing to P.O. Box 2910, Austin, TX 78768-2910 or by emailing me at My district office phone number is (903) 891-7297.

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