This is an interesting situation very similar to our struggle for housing for younger professionals today in many high priced metro areas. The couple in the story above is massively house rich. 80 percent of their net worth is tied up in housing. Their retirement accounts are paltry assuming they will be living off this amount for 15, 20, or even 30 years. The house does not throw off any income. The only way to unlock the money is to sell. A home equity loan essentially means resetting the clock on additional debt. Downsizing or moving to a cheaper area is the only way to leverage that massive gain in housing. But how many people actually move? In the U.S. we pointed out that most people are home bodies that would rather eat cat food in their million dollar home versus selling and using the money to live a decent retirement.