The number of states in which elderly homeowners can get a reverse mortgage grew from 12 to 39 last year. A survey by the National Center for Home Equity Conversions said the growth was largely due to new programs for insuring, funding, and servicing reverse mortgage loans.

In a reverse mortgage, a homeowner borrows money that does not have to be repaid, in most cases, for as long as he lives in the home. The elderly can take out a reverse mortgage to supplement their incomes. The advantage is that they can draw on their usually large equity without having to sell and move elsewhere.

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