A south-Atlantic mortgage bank recently launched its first-ever reverse mortgage lending operations helmed by one industry veteran who sees opportunities for growth in the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage for Purchase (H4P) market.
On March 1, Alpha Mortgage Corporation, a Wilmington, N.C.-based mortgage lender officially added the HECM product to its roster of services offerings under the guidance of reverse mortgage division manager and Certified Reverse Mortgage Professional Greg Gianoplus.
Established in 1983, Alpha Mortgage is one of the oldest independent mortgage bankers serving the Carolinas. In addition to basic mortgage services, Alpha provides in-house processing, underwriting, closing, funding and now, reverse mortgages.
“As southeastern North Carolina’s longest-standing independent mortgage bank, we’re deeply rooted in the communities we serve,” Gianoplus said. “We created a reverse mortgage program to give our customers access to beneficial and flexible new financial options, like the ability to purchase a house with a HUD-insured HECM.”
Alpha maintains several offices across North Carolina with locations in Wilmington, Fayetteville, Jacksonville, Hampstead and Greensboro. The company’s team of reverse mortgage specialists originate loans from the firm’s Wilmington and Raleigh offices.
The decision to launch a reverse mortgage lending channel was not necessarily a direct strategy for Alpha Mortgage, said Gianoplus, who admits it took several meetings, which were mostly educational in nature, with Alpha’s Founder and President Michael Lopez before the bank warmed up to the idea of adding HECMs to its service line.
Although Alpha at first was not interested in launching a reverse mortgage business, Gianoplus said the bank’s sentiment changed after learning more about the H4P and its potential to leverage the company’s purchase business, as well as its relationships with Realtors and home builders.
“Alpha is a traditional mortgage shop that has mortgage banking running through its veins,” Gianoplus said. “Once that window opened where Alpha saw the opportunity for HECM for Purchase, they embraced the idea of starting a reverse mortgage division.”
Alpha’s new launch is the latest reverse mortgage endeavor for Gianoplus, who in 2010 started the HECM division for Gateway Bank, the Raleigh-based mortgage banking subsidiary of Bank of Hampton Roads serving North Carolina, Maryland and Virginia. In this former role, he led the channel until October 2015, after a merger resulted in the discontinuation of Gateway’s reverse mortgage offerings.
That was when Gianoplus worked on an exit strategy to find a new home for the reverse division. During this process, he interviewed 15 potential banks who might be willing to take on a reverse mortgage segment, one of them being Alpha Mortgage, the owner of which he had a prior relationship with in the past.
Right now, the reverse mortgage division of Alpha Mortgage consists of five staff members, including Gianoplus. The vision, he says, is to build the division to include 25-30 well-trained reverse mortgage specialists.
For this new endeavor, Gianoplus said the plan is to develop a high-quality reverse mortgage business focused in choice local markets, rather than a big, multi-state footprint. While something that resembles a mini-call center model might be in the works later down the road, the company plans to keep its sales efforts more personal.
“We want to harvest the low-hanging fruit because we believe that since the implementation of the Financial Assessment, this business has become more knee-to-knee and knuckle-to-knuckle than ever,” Gianoplus said. “It’s easier to win the trust of a prospective client by meeting them face-to-face than it is through a call center.”
Written by Jason Oliva