Reverse Mortgage Changes Coming to Mass. in November [Update]

A law that will impact reverse mortgage loans in Massachusetts goes into effect on November 1, 2010.

Signed by Governor Deval Patrick earlier this year, the law requires seniors with a gross income of less than 50 percent of the average area income or has assets valued at less than $120,000 (excluding a primary residence) receive written certification from a counselor that the applicant has received counseling in person on the suitability of the transaction.  Additionally, the borrower that meets this description must affirmatively opt in writing for a reverse mortgage loan.

The HECM counseling agency must be approved by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs.  If the borrower doesn’t provide documentation of attending counseling, the state can render the terms of the reverse mortgage unenforceable.

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The National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association was able to delay the in person counseling requirement until August 1, 2012, as it conducts a study on the impact of the provision.

Last year, there were around 3,600 counseling sessions in Massachusetts, with approximately 130 of those being face-to-face.  Based on a “mystery shopping” experiment, the association found only eight agency-approved face-to-face counselors in the entire state.

Editor Update: A previous version of this article stated that counseling would be changing as a result from the new law which is incorrect. Because NRMLA was able to delay the in person counseling provision, the only real change is that the borrower must affirmatively opt in writing for a reverse mortgage.  We apologize for the confusion.

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  • I read this article with interest. First, your mystery shoper only found 8 agencies that do face to face counseling. Unfortunately this is misleading as there are ONLY 9 agencies approved by the Mass Department of Elder Affairs to do reverse mortgage counseling in Massachusetts. One of those agencies, Spectrum Generations, is in Maine. (For those interested, the list can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/5l7l2l )

    Second, I am not sure about the average, but my agency only does face to face sessions and I, personally, did 95 counseling sessions from 10/1/09 to 9/30/10. I cannot believe that all seven of the other agencies only did a combined total of 45 counseling sessions. That just is not realistic. Especially since I know that Housing Assistance Corp. of Hyannis, MA also only does face to face sessions and that HOME of Braintree, MA prefers face to face sessions.

    I think someone’s numbers are wrong somewhere.

    Frank J. Kautz, II
    Staff Attorney

    Community Service Network, Inc.
    52 Broadway
    Stoneham, MA 02180
    (781) 438-1977
    (781) 438-6037 fax
    FrankKautz@csninc.org –work
    Frank@Kautzlaw.com –private

  • Will the existing “Intent To Proceed” documents already present in most lender’s application document sets and which have to be signed by the borrower(s) satisfy the MA Opt-In requirements?

    Looks like it to my non-legal-eagle eyes. The language of the law specifies only that the borrowers opt-in in writing, and the existing forms plus signatures would appear to meet that standard.

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