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Confronting HECM Fiction: Harlan Accola


Part 2

Reverse mortgage information exposed & corrected

Join us for the final installment of our interview with Harlan Accola who penned a column in NASDQ fact-checking Dave Ramsey’s erroneous reverse mortgage claims.

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Editor in Chief:
As a prominent commentator and Editor in Chief at, Shannon Hicks has played a pivotal role in reshaping the conversation around reverse mortgages. His unique perspectives and deep understanding of the industry have not only educated countless readers but has also contributed to introducing practical strategies utilizing housing wealth with a reverse mortgage.
Shannon’s journey into the world of reverse mortgages began in 2002 as an originator and his prior work in the financial services industry. Shannon has been covering reverse mortgage news stories since 2008 when he launched the podcast HECMWorld Weekly. Later, in 2010 he began producing the weekly video series The Industry Leader Update and Friday’s Food for Thought.
Readers wishing to submit stories or interview requests can reach our team at:

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  1. Excellent segment. Harlan is correct. When it comes to the children, what’s the difference between a $500K house and a $500K IRA.

    • An IRA versus a house? Really? They are GENERALLY not comparable.

      An IRA is a vehicle to hold assets. So what is in the IRA? Are they marketable securities, TICs or other forms of real estate, precious metals, or what?

      Is the IRA, an after tax IRA, a taxable IRA, or a Roth IRA that is more 5 years old? If it is a Roth that is at least 5 years old, there are no tax issues and generally selling commissions on underlying assets are less than 4%. The beneficiary can take any percentage of the assets without “disposing” of the IRA. There are NO taxes associated with HOLDING the IRA.

      What are the net proceeds from selling a $500,000 house (after selling and fix up costs)? Holding this asset means daily accrual of real estate taxes (most likely accrued taxes from last paid to date of death as well). What are typical real estate commissions in the area? Is the property so far away that it is unmanageable?

      For income tax purposes, the house will generally get a step in basis. IRAs have no step up in basis but the distributions on a Roth IRA that is over five years are not taxable for income tax purposes. The after tax IRA is only table on any increase in value that is considered distributed; while the increase is ordinary income (versus capital gains), the return of contributions are non-taxable. All distributions from a taxable IRA are taxable as ordinary income.

      So if the IRA is a Roth that is at least five years old and the underlying assets are marketable securities, give me the IRA every single time.

  2. Great interview, Shannon! Kudos to Harlan for carrying the reverse mortgage banner forward.

  3. Shannon, those two interviews with Harlan were EXCELLENT. Thanks so much for sharing that information with us loan originators.

    I’m looking forward to watching any future interviews with Harlan. As I’ve told you many times before, you’re doing a great job at Reverse Focus, I hope you continue to do it for many years to come.

    Owen Coyle

  4. Thanks so much for putting these interviews together Shannon. So much great info!

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