GAO Studies Reverse Mortgage Industry at Request of Congress

When participants convened in private last week at the annual policy conference of the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association in Washington, D.C., government officials, academicians, attorneys and business executives could “let down their collective hair,” unencumbered by the news media, which were not permitted to attend.

One speaker, from the Government Accounting Office, spoke to RMD about his appearance there and summarized his remarks. The GAO is charged with “determining that government entities are doing what they are supposed to (and) that funds are being spent for the intended purposes, and that applicable laws and regulations are being complied with.”

Steven Westley, GAO assistant director, says his agency will issue results of two studies, respectively at the end of June and the end of July, each produced at the behest of Congress and the Obama Administration. The first examines reverse mortgage marketing, cross-selling and HUD’s oversight of counseling; the second reports on the impact of fees and loan limits on participation and product availability, according to Westley.

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He says the twin studies reflect feedback from “HUD officials, various independent participants, consumer groups, individual lenders and others”. The GAO, Westley notes, has not previously looked at reverse mortgages, “but now that they are more popular and important, Congress wanted [this] information.” Results must be made public within 30 days after they have been delivered to Congress and the White House.

Neil J. Morse has been a communications professional working in the mortgage finance industry for more than a decade, currently specializing in the reverse mortgage sector. He can be reached at [email protected]

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