Reverse Mortgage Applications Fall, HECM Saver Gains 120%

The number of reverse mortgage applications fell 10.6% in January, but the month posted a 120% increase in HECM Saver endorsements over last month, according to data released this week by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

January posted a seasonally-adjusted rate of 1,450,900 single-family mortgage applications overall, which represents the lowest January estimate since January 2007, partly attributable to strong storms across the country, according to the Federal Housing Administration report accompanying the data.

HECM endorsements totaled 6,464, down 1.4% from December 2010. Of all FHA endorsements, 117 were HECM for Purchase, and 165 were HECM Saver loans. HECM Saver endorsements more than doubled, from 75 total in December. January marks the fourth month of the HECM Saver program, which launched Oct. 1, 2010.

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The total proportion of reverse mortgage closings relative to total mortgage closings was 5.4%, a slight increase over the proportion last year, which was 4.8%.

Total endorsements for purchase and refinancing were down 29% and 19.3%, respectively, over totals from January 2010.

To view the full application data for January, click here.

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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  • For the fourth straight month, HECM case number assignments are up when compared to the same four months in the prior fiscal year. However, with only four months left in the FHA case number assignment season for this fiscal year, the assignments are still running over 4,500 behind what they were in the same eight month period last assignment season.

    The Case Number assignment season for any endorsement fiscal year runs from June 1 of the prior calendar year to May 31 of the calendar year in which the fiscal year ends. For example, for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2011, the assignment season started on June 1, 2010 and will end this coming May 31, 2011. While not exactly precise, it is commonly believed that it takes approximately 120 days for an endorsed HECM to go from receiving a FHA Case Number to actually becoming endorsed.

    There is no rational argument at this time to be made that HECMs will exceed 100,000 endorsements this fiscal year. Without Bank of America, it is doubtful we will see it grow beyond 75,000 endorsements for this fiscal year if that much. So can that number be reached for the calendar year 2011? It came as somewhat of a surprise that the endorsement numbers for the calendar year 2010 were worse than the fiscal year which ended September 30, 2010. It is quite likely that will happen again this calendar year.

    As of October 2010, HUD projected 75,000 HECMs for this fiscal year in its Single-Family Outlook. What is interesting is that no Savers were included in those numbers. HUD forecasted 2,400 HECM for Purchase and with one-third of the fiscal year gone, the number is only 432 which is 101 lower this year than last when the total endorsed was less than 1,400. This flies in the face of several who were promoting the idea that HECMs for Purchase would be growing this fiscal year; they are not.

    At 259 endorsements, Savers are growing remarkably well and are now almost 60% of the volume of HECMs for Purchase. This is even more encouraging when one realizes that there were no Savers in the endorsement inventory as of October 3, 2010. At over 1% of current endorsement activity, it would not be surprising to see Savers at over 2% of all endorsements for this fiscal year. What makes this all the more promising is that the case number assignment season for Savers will only be 8 months instead of 12. I know it is not the volume some analysts were calling for but 1% at this point is nonetheless very good.

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