Grassroots Effort: Bringing Reverse Mortgage Experiences to Capitol Hill

With the industry relying almost entirely on the support of a government insured HECM product, the need to communicate the importance of the product to representatives in Washington, DC, has never been more important.  Even with the support of organizations like the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association and Coalition for Independent Seniors, there hasn’t been a system in place to contact reverse mortgage borrowers and communicate the important role they can play in ensuring the HECM products future until now.

Developed by John Mitchell, Founder of 1st AA Reverse Mortgage, Inc., Reverse Voice is an independent grassroots campaign designed to help lenders reach out to customers and explain the value of writing local representatives if they feel reverse mortgages have had a positive impact in their lives.

The process begins when lenders send out a customer satisfaction inquiry after their loan closes.  Included in the survey is an additional one page letter provided by Reverse Voice explaining why the industry needs their support. Within a week of receiving the one-page letter, an independent company follows up with a phone call to each customer to determine their interest in writing their representative(s) a letter.

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The call is non-invasive and respectful of the seniors time and only communicates the merit of sending it out to their local representative.  Mitchell understands that people could be concerned about a call center contacting its clients but he says it’s essential to the process.

“The call center is really what makes it work, just sending a letter won’t be effective” he says. “Our call center won’t strong arm people to write letters, rather, it will be to answer any questions they might have regarding the process of writing their representative.”

The company used is Senior Voice, staffed with employees who are trained to work with seniors. On a quarterly basis, participating companies will receive a report showing the number of letters sent to representatives from their company as well as the industry as a whole. According to data provided to RMD, Mitchell’s company sent out 370 letters to clients and was able to talk to 75% of the people who received letters.  Of those, 38% (105 people) said they would write a letter.

A follow up call to those same people two weeks later found that 86% (90 people) sent a letter. Other lenders including Stay In Home Mortgage and Generation Mortgage have had similar success using the system according to Mitchell.  The cost to participate is minimal, “we will provide each lender that wants to participate with the standard letter to send out after their loans close.”  The lender must pay for the cost of sending the surveys, but the call center is something that everyone will have to fund.  “I really wouldn’t expect the cost of more than five dollars a loan,” he said.

After developing the process for his company, Mitchell tells RMD he felt the need to lead the industry effort for two reasons.

“First, it ensures the long-term viability of my own business. Secondly, as the largest reverse mortgage broker in the country, I’d like to give back to this business that has given me so much.” The group plans to seek the support and endorsement of NRMLA, which Mitchell believes “would only help make NRMLA’s lobbying effort all the more effective.”

The organization said it hopes to officially launch during the associations annual conference in New Orleans.

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  • Maybe it is the article and not the concept but with so little information, it seems there is some kind of hidden agenda. For example, once the data is gathered what will be done with it when a campaign is completed? How will it be safeguarded? How will the company introduce itself in telephone surveys or requests for letters or answer the phone if borrowers call back? Will this competitor make it their own marketing and branding venture at our cost? If there is a request for response by email or regular mail, what company abbreviation or name will appear in the URL or address? While this may not make any difference to the correspondents it currently supports, it could make a real difference to others.

    There is no information about what will be done in the future or how this information will be protected in case of a sale of this entity to another or simple abandonment of continuing such campaigns. For example, how much will future campaigns cost? In the current cost estimate there is the initial cost of gathering the data. What is the cost estimate for future campaigns? Is this a full time venture or one that will fill up time for existing staff so that the campaign is not the primary concern of this company? And so on and so on.

    There are far easier ways to do the same thing at slightly higher costs (perhaps even lower) through companies which already provide such services. Many of the questions and motive issues end if those entities are engaged to do this. It is not the idea that this needs to be done which is in question; it is the idea that a competitor is doing this with so little information about the business plan, the internal controls, and the assurance that this entity will not somehow see this venture as a means of marketing or branding itself at our cost.

    Let me be clear, if our firm was a participant and even one of my current HECM customers refinances through this company, questions would arise, guaranteed. Maybe a follow up article could be done addressing the issues in this reply.

  • It’s not just one, others like Generation and StayInHome are doing it as well. It’s brand new, so I’d give him some time to get others on board.nnI know he is talking to a couple of the big lenders and has made some progress. nnMitchell doesn’t want to run it day to day, but he didn’t see anyone else doing it so he decided to get it started. There is no financial benefit to him.

  • The principle is great; one lender providing this service. The question is why? rnrnIF the purpose is to provide a base from which to send letter campaigns to Congress, why not start with the Big Four HECM lenders? They could provide instant access to a great number of borrowers with the smallest amount of effort and cost.rnrnAre the Big Four leery of this gesture? One has to ask what the principal by-product of this effort is. Could it be to get the customer lists of other lenders at no cost? Maybe I have just seen the Gecko speech in Wall Street one too many times but it seems less about altruism than about gaining a competitive edge.rnrnIt could be simply a great idea run by the wrong entity. This would be better done through a nonprofit entity with strong confidentiality agreements with participants.rnrnIf this is the substance of what is being proposed, I hope it is quickly put to rest. It is just another great idea with little protection for the participants.rn

  • Thanks, Greg. We should just keep driving home that message at every opportunity: Reverse mortgages are part of the solution to our national debt crisis, not a government handout to seniors. rnrnI believe the magnitude of the fiscal problems we face will compel them to pay attention.

  • Thank you for your efforts John. Maybe we should start to pay our $15/closed loan to John since he is actually doing something rather than talking about doing something.

  • Every effort at communication with policymakers helps, but the issue is more than just sharing stories of how reverse mortgages saved grandma or grandpa from total financial ruin. We have been doing that for 21 years!rnrnThe deepest anxiety of most conscious policymakers today (and years to come) is our escalating national debt crisis at a time severe shortage of public funds. For our message to register with policymakers, we must reposition reverse mortgages as a part of the solution to our long-term fiscal problems. Please see my July 1st post, “Reverse Mortgages as National Security Assets” at http://www.thinkreverse.com.

  • Maybe it is the article and not the concept but with so little information, it seems there is some kind of hidden agenda. For example, once the data is gathered what will be done with it when a campaign is completed? How will it be safeguarded? How will the company introduce itself in telephone surveys or requests for letters or answer the phone if borrowers call back? Will this competitor make it their own marketing and branding venture at our cost? If there is a request for response by email or regular mail, what company abbreviation or name will appear in the URL or address? While this may not make any difference to the correspondents it currently supports, it could make a real difference to others.

    There is no information about what will be done in the future or how this information will be protected in case of a sale of this entity to another or simple abandonment of continuing such campaigns. For example, how much will future campaigns cost? In the current cost estimate there is the initial cost of gathering the data. What is the cost estimate for future campaigns? Is this a full time venture or one that will fill up time for existing staff so that the campaign is not the primary concern of this company? And so on and so on.

    There are far easier ways to do the same thing at slightly higher costs (perhaps even lower) through companies which already provide such services. Many of the questions and motive issues end if those entities are engaged to do this. It is not the idea that this needs to be done which is in question; it is the idea that a competitor is doing this with so little information about the business plan, the internal controls, and the assurance that this entity will not somehow see this venture as a means of marketing or branding itself at our cost.

    Let me be clear, if our firm was a participant and even one of my current HECM customers refinances through this company, questions would arise, guaranteed. Maybe a follow up article could be done addressing the issues in this reply.

  • It’s not just one, others like Generation and StayInHome are doing it as well. It’s brand new, so I’d give him some time to get others on board.nnI know he is talking to a couple of the big lenders and has made some progress. nnMitchell doesn’t want to run it day to day, but he didn’t see anyone else doing it so he decided to get it started. There is no financial benefit to him.

  • The principle is great; one lender providing this service. The question is why? rnrnIF the purpose is to provide a base from which to send letter campaigns to Congress, why not start with the Big Four HECM lenders? They could provide instant access to a great number of borrowers with the smallest amount of effort and cost.rnrnAre the Big Four leery of this gesture? One has to ask what the principal by-product of this effort is. Could it be to get the customer lists of other lenders at no cost? Maybe I have just seen the Gecko speech in Wall Street one too many times but it seems less about altruism than about gaining a competitive edge.rnrnIt could be simply a great idea run by the wrong entity. This would be better done through a nonprofit entity with strong confidentiality agreements with participants.rnrnIf this is the substance of what is being proposed, I hope it is quickly put to rest. It is just another great idea with little protection for the participants.rn

  • Thanks, Greg. We should just keep driving home that message at every opportunity: Reverse mortgages are part of the solution to our national debt crisis, not a government handout to seniors. rnrnI believe the magnitude of the fiscal problems we face will compel them to pay attention.

  • Thank you for your efforts John. Maybe we should start to pay our $15/closed loan to John since he is actually doing something rather than talking about doing something.

  • Every effort at communication with policymakers helps, but the issue is more than just sharing stories of how reverse mortgages saved grandma or grandpa from total financial ruin. We have been doing that for 21 years!rnrnThe deepest anxiety of most conscious policymakers today (and years to come) is our escalating national debt crisis at a time severe shortage of public funds. For our message to register with policymakers, we must reposition reverse mortgages as a part of the solution to our long-term fiscal problems. Please see my July 1st post, “Reverse Mortgages as National Security Assets” at http://www.thinkreverse.com.

  • Every effort at communication with policymakers helps, but the issue is more than just sharing stories of how reverse mortgages saved grandma or grandpa from total financial ruin. We have been doing that for 21 years!

    The deepest anxiety of most conscious policymakers today (and years to come) is our escalating national debt crisis at a time severe shortage of public funds. For our message to register with policymakers, we must reposition reverse mortgages as a part of the solution to our long-term fiscal problems. Please see my July 1st post, “Reverse Mortgages as National Security Assets” at http://www.thinkreverse.com.

    • Thanks, Greg. We should just keep driving home that message at every opportunity: Reverse mortgages are part of the solution to our national debt crisis, not a government handout to seniors.

      I believe the magnitude of the fiscal problems we face will compel them to pay attention.

  • Thank you for your efforts John. Maybe we should start to pay our $15/closed loan to John since he is actually doing something rather than talking about doing something.

  • The principle is great; one lender providing this service. The question is why?

    IF the purpose is to provide a base from which to send letter campaigns to Congress, why not start with the Big Four HECM lenders? They could provide instant access to a great number of borrowers with the smallest amount of effort and cost.

    Are the Big Four leery of this gesture? One has to ask what the principal by-product of this effort is. Could it be to get the customer lists of other lenders at no cost? Maybe I have just seen the Gecko speech in Wall Street one too many times but it seems less about altruism than about gaining a competitive edge.

    It could be simply a great idea run by the wrong entity. This would be better done through a nonprofit entity with strong confidentiality agreements with participants.

    If this is the substance of what is being proposed, I hope it is quickly put to rest. It is just another great idea with little protection for the participants.

    • It's not just one, others like Generation and StayInHome are doing it as well. It's brand new, so I'd give him some time to get others on board.

      I know he is talking to a couple of the big lenders and has made some progress.

      Mitchell doesn't want to run it day to day, but he didn't see anyone else doing it so he decided to get it started. There is no financial benefit to him.

      • Maybe it is the article and not the concept but with so little information, it seems there is some kind of hidden agenda. For example, once the data is gathered what will be done with it when a campaign is completed? How will it be safeguarded? How will the company introduce itself in telephone surveys or requests for letters? Will they make it their own marketing and branding venture at our cost? If there is a request for response by email or regular mail, what company abbreviation or name will appear in the URL or address? While this may not make any difference to the correspondents it currently supports, it could make a real difference to others.

        There is no information about what will be done in the future or how this information will be protected in case of a sale of this entity to another or simple abandonment. For example, how much will future campaigns cost? In the current cost estimate there is the initial cost of gathering the data. What is the cost estimate for future campaigns? Is this a full time venture or one that will fill up time for existing staff so that the campaign is not the primary concern of this company? And so on and so on.

        There are far easier ways to do the same thing at slightly higher costs (perhaps even lower) through companies which already provide such services. Many of the questions and motive issues end if those entities are engaged to do this. It is not the idea that this needs to be done which is in question; it is the idea that a competitor is doing this with so little information about the business plan, the internal controls, and the assurance that this entity will not somehow see this venture as a means of marketing or branding itself at our cost.

        Let me be clear, if our firm was a participant and even one of my current HECM customers refinances through this company, questions would arise, guaranteed. Maybe a follow up article could be done addressing the issues in this response.

  • Maybe it is the article and not the concept but with so little information, it seems there is some kind of hidden agenda. For example, once the data is gathered what will be done with it when a campaign is completed? How will it be safeguarded? How will the company introduce itself in telephone surveys or requests for letters or answer the phone if borrowers call back? Will this competitor make it their own marketing and branding venture at our cost? If there is a request for response by email or regular mail, what company abbreviation or name will appear in the URL or address? While this may not make any difference to the correspondents it currently supports, it could make a real difference to others.

    There is no information about what will be done in the future or how this information will be protected in case of a sale of this entity to another or simple abandonment of continuing such campaigns. For example, how much will future campaigns cost? In the current cost estimate there is the initial cost of gathering the data. What is the cost estimate for future campaigns? Is this a full time venture or one that will fill up time for existing staff so that the campaign is not the primary concern of this company? And so on and so on.

    There are far easier ways to do the same thing at slightly higher costs (perhaps even lower) through companies which already provide such services. Many of the questions and motive issues end if those entities are engaged to do this. It is not the idea that this needs to be done which is in question; it is the idea that a competitor is doing this with so little information about the business plan, the internal controls, and the assurance that this entity will not somehow see this venture as a means of marketing or branding itself at our cost.

    Let me be clear, if our firm was a participant and even one of my current HECM customers refinances through this company, questions would arise, guaranteed. Maybe a follow up article could be done addressing the issues in this reply.

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