Interview With First Reverse Mortgage Originator

Screen shot 2010-04-26 at 8.42.01 AM.pngAtare Agbamu’s HECM at 20 series of interviews sits down with Robert W. Evans Jr., the first reverse mortgage originator to close a reverse mortgage.

Now the managing director of Reverse Ultra, Evans has over 24 years of experience in mortgage lending and has held various positions throughout the industry. In addition, Evans serves as a director on the board of the U.S. State Department International Visitors Council of Kansas City and is the United States Honorary Consul of the Republic of Chile.

It’s interesting to hear how little information in terms of process and procedure were available when the first loan was written. See excerpt below:

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You have the distinction of being the first loan officer to originate an HECM loan in U.S. reverse mortgage history. How was the experience for your customer, Ms. Mason, and for you?

At the time Ms. Mason applied for her reverse mortgage, she did not know her adjustable-rate loan closing would become an industry first, not only for HUD and Fannie Mae, but for me as well. She viewed her reverse mortgage loan application as the answer to her specific need for additional income to maintain her financial independence in her own home. In 1989, Ms. Mason sought out information about how reverse mortgages would impact her home finances. Her major concern was how she would meet growing homeowner costs and other expenses on her limited fixed-income.

She was a single woman, living alone in a well-kept home. She had always maintained her property in good condition. Her concern was to keep ahead of the maintenance curve and to keep from going into debt. Ms. Mason was used to being in control of her finances and found that the HUD reverse mortgage was a viable option for her. It did not matter to her that she was one of the first applicants for the HECM, rather, she was grateful for the program offering and felt confident about her application knowing that HUD and Fannie Mae supported the product. I believe that the mortgage loan application and closing process was a good experience for her. It just made sense to her.

My experience as loan officer in the nation’s first FHA reverse mortgage was very positive. Before reverse mortgages, I worked with various “community-specific” mortgage loan products. As compliance agent for our community’s first-time homebuyer program, I worked closely and continuously with state housing organizations and bond issuers. From this background, I realized the importance of partnerships with local, state, and federal housing organizations for the overall success of this product. And I believe each community has a stake in the financial health of their senior homeowners, and they benefit from every closed reverse mortgage. How did you find Ms. Mason or how did she find you?
Ms. Mason was referred to me by the local Area Agency on Aging.

How was the HECM origination process in 1989? What were the required disclosures back then?

For the first applications, I did not have use of an origination software. I made use of the HUD application and secured required disclosures from the HUD manual. Since the basic borrower qualifications are still in place today as they were in 1989, the application package included: Age verification of all borrowers, evidence of property ownership. Evidence of property insurance and a credit report was made part of the origination package. As to the required disclosures, I do not have access to the file. 

The HECM at 20 Series (VI): The first HECM loan officer

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  • Every one of us can learn from Robert W. Evans Jr. I did a lot, particularly from his response to the question:

    What are some lessons you have learned about seniors, the market, and the business?

    Often the spotlight is on the “movers and shakers” in our industry. However, professionals like Mr. Evans are the real heroes of our industry. Thank you, Robert, for your example.

    • Atare,

      Another excellent interview.

      Without your dedication to providing this service for our industry we would be bereft of some of the most valuable insights into the heart of our industry. Keep up the good work.

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