But they didn't want to get into a costly reverse mortgage.
Instead, the Dollars signed up for a relatively new product called a Rex Agreement.
It gave them $117,000 in cash to spend however they wanted, and they owe no payments until they sell the house.
At that time, they'll owe Rex & Co. the $117,000 plus half of the appreciation in their home's worth between the time they signed the agreement and the time they sell the house.
If the house goes down in value, Rex & Co. will eat half of that loss as well.
Since they signed the agreement last October, prices in their neighborhood have dropped.
So far, it's been a good deal for the Dollars (yes, that's their real name.) Rex is the first of several new products on the market aimed at this shared equity or shared appreciation concept.
Others are Equity Key and My Equity Freedom.
They all have differences in the way they are structured, but all aim to replace interest payments (and high reverse mortgage costs) with an unknown share of future profits.
It's a risk for the issuers, but homeowners who enter these agreements have risks, too.
For starters, the timing of these deals might be bad for homeowners.
Home prices have been falling by historically high percentages in the last two years, and many economists are predicting inflationary times ahead. That could signal another round of increases in home prices.
Mortgage rates remain near historic lows. So homeowners entering these deals might be establishing a low baseline for their home's value and giving up sizable increases in future equity just to avoid locking in a low interest rate now.
Some folks may still want to do that.
Older homeowners who want to stay put through retirement may have too much equity in their homes, may need to take cash out to live on, and may not be in a position to make monthly payments.
The average homeowner has 50 percent of his home's value in equity, says Rex & Co's managing director, Jeffrey Cusack.
The average homeowner has 80 percent of his net worth tied up in his house.
That might be out of balance, so selling part of that equity for cash now could make sense. But first, here are some points to consider.
Do The Math
Under the Rex Agreement, a homeowner with a $500,000 house can get $71,429 now in exchange for a 50/50 split on the home's appreciation (or depreciation) going forward.
Over the last 20 years, single-family home prices have gone up 6.5 percent a year, according to industry data compiled by data360.org.
If the home appreciates 6.5 percent a year for 10 years, that means that in 2018, the home would be worth $938,568.
The homeowner would owe Rex $71,429 plus $219,284, half of the appreciation, for a total of $290,713.
If, instead, the homeowner borrowed $71,429 at 10 percent interest—higher than the current going rate for second mortgages for good credit risks — he would end up paying $41,844 in interest, for a grand total of $113,273.
Why the huge disparity? Part of it is because these figures don't account for the time value of money; that the homeowner would be paying off that loan over 10 years and not at the end of 10 years.