When it comes to the mainstream media, I’d say our industry has three well established journalists who provide fair and balanced reporting when it comes to reverse mortgages. One of those is Newsday columnist Saul Friedman, who tells his readers Don’t Worry, Reverse Mortgages are Safe.
In his Gray Matters column, he writes that “to hear Sen. Claire McCaskill talk about federally insured reverse mortgages, you’d think the popular program is riddled with fraud and victimizing older Americans and costing the government billions.”
Friedman says not to worry, reverse mortgages are safe and so is the 20-year-old program that has insured such loans for more than 500,000 older homeowners, including 112,000 last year.
Despite recommendations from the government, AARP, Kiplinger, and others, McCaskill continues her crusade to clean up what she called a “program that is leaving our seniors vulnerable to predatory practices leading to fraud and victimization.”
Our industry is certainly aware that there are some problems but government auditors have found scant evidence of fraud in the market for the HECM. Friedman asked McCaskill’s office to provide him with evidence but was only given the witnesses at her hearing where several suggested that the lucrative reverse mortgage market was becoming a target for deceptive advertising but no cases of fraud were cited in the HECM program.
Our industry was well represented by NRMLA Peter Bell at the hearing who said that after polling state law enforcement officials, “no one has identified any incidence of widespread malfeasance specifically in reverse mortgage cases.”
I can’t speak for everyone but “Thank You Saul Friedman”. The fact that someone from outside our industry is calling out McCaskill means that people are listening and hopefully she will stop the crusade and work with HUD and NRMLA to protect seniors without harming the very people who need the product.