Some reverse mortgage originators are on a mission. Theirs is a business endeavor first, but close behind the motivation for getting into this niche market can be personal, as it is for Michael Banner of Loan Well America in Clearwater, Fla.
“I decided to go into reverse mortgages because it helps the ‘greatest generation’,” Banner tells RMD, a reference to those who were young adults during the 1940s and World War 2. His father, who passed away nearly five years ago, was “the finest example of that generation – a highly decorated [war] veteran and a survivor of 14 months in a POW camp,” Banner recalls proudly. “He emerged from that experience with a gallant love of this country and the freedom it affords us all. That generation literally saved the world.”
So, although the junior Banner spent a couple of dozen years on the forward mortgage side of the business, it wasn’t until a few years ago that he even heard of reverse mortgages. “Until then,” he freely admits, “I thought all the wrong things about them.” Banner transformed “what used to be a fairly large company,” cutting it in half (by volume) 18 months ago and turning his attention to educating interested parties, consisting mostly of financial professionals, about reverse mortgages.
Today, Banner boasts of being “the first person in Florida approved to teach a CE class to state Realtors on the HECM-for-purchase program. “I educate them about [the HERA program] because “nobody’s really putting it out there,” he contends, noting that the program greatly benefits “the 65-year-old person who put 50 percent down and has no payments for the rest of their lives.”
Unafraid to speak his mind, Banner emphasizes the “need to get mortgage insurance premiums down” and keep the higher ceiling for government insured properties at $625,000.
Neil J. Morse has been a communications professional working in the mortgage finance industry for more than a decade. He can be reached at [email protected]