As Funds Dry Up, Reverse Mortgage Counseling Startup Sees Opportunity

Many housing counseling agencies saw their government funding dry up on Oct. 1, 2011, the same day that QuickCert, a non-profit agency devoted solely to reverse mortgage pre-application counseling, opened its doors, boasting quick “turn times” compared to other agencies with two to three-week-long waiting lists.

Before transitioning into a Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-approved counseling agency, QuickCert, headquartered in Tulsa, Okla., worked in a non-profit senior environment for about six years, offering financial counseling to seniors under the name Senior Independence.

As the topic of reverse mortgages increasingly cropped up as a viable solution for hundreds of seniors the agency was counseling, Team Manager Vince Bond said the transition to pre-application reverse mortgage counseling was “natural.”

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“It got to the point where we found that some of the information they were getting wasn’t quite up to speed with the current market; some were having to wait two to three weeks for turn times,” Bond told RMD. “After investigating that, and doing discussions with HUD, we decided that we could really come out and make a dramatic impact on that.”

Right now, QuickCert is operating at 24- or 48-hour turn times.

This is partially due to the agency’s recent beginnings, and it currently has just six licensed counselors in its Oklahoma headquarters. Its plans for expansion include currently developing offices in North Carolina and Puerto Rico, with another office potentially located in Massachusetts.

Initial expectations will place anywhere from three to seven counselors at each location, says Bond, which were chosen carefully in consideration of certain state requirements for face-to-face counseling.

“It’s a numbers game,” he says, adding that they’ll add more staff to keep turn times low, depending on workload.

QuickCert’s goal is to gain 20% of the market within its first year, says Bond, which would put them at about 1200-1500 counselings a month. Like many other HUD-approved counseling agencies, including CredAbility or Cambridge Credit Counseling Corporation, QuickCert doesn’t have much in the way of funding, but Bond says they expected this.

“We put this in place because we knew the funding for counselors were going to be going out, and there would be a void that needed to be filled,” he says. And, as the need for senior financing and reverse mortgages rises, “more people are going to need services like ours.”

The agency charges $125 upfront for its counseling services, but in some circumstances works to finance the fee into the loan closing, says Bond. However, at least 30% of counselees never close on a loan, and the agency is already making use of licensed counselors’ volunteered time. However, if QuickCert is managed correctly, its counseling services can maintain itself, Bond added, although they may look into government funding “down the road.”

Other HUD-approved counseling agencies are also feeling the crunch, with those seeking free counseling often facing weeks-long waits. Some agencies who up until now offered free or pay-at-closing agencies have been forced to charge upfront fees.

Written by Alyssa Gerace

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  • I called QuickCert this morning and they said turn times were still 24 hours even after all the calls they had this morning, as long as borrowers had already received the 2 required HUD booklets they print with my doc set. I did have to look up their number because it wasn’t with the article and it’s 888-383-8885.

  • Mortgagee Letter 11-09 states that :

    “Counseling agencies choosing to charge HECM fees should not collect a fee at the time of the counseling session from a client whose income is below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty level. Agencies may charge these clients a HECM counseling fee at closing provided the client has been advised during the counseling session of the amount of the fee.”

    Under the current Federal Poverty level guidelines that means than any individual borrower making less than $1815/month or any couple making less than $2452/month cannot be charged upfront for HECM counseling.  Are all counseling agencies following these guidelines?  I am worried that counseling agencies will not be able to afford to meet the current demand for counseling without being able to charge all borrowers upfront fees. 

  • It’s wonderful to hear that seniors can be served in a timely fashion. I’m also excited to hear that Quickcert plans to come to North Carolina where the need for faster service is overwhelmingly high. And we realize that there funding is short right now but there interest is huge so The Foundation for Homeowners will certainly contact Quickcert to offer our assitance.

  • Quick cert pre-counseling sounds like a great idea in these times when loan originators can’t take the time to get off thier backsides to meet with customers and do a good job of educating them/answering questions. Just charge the senior a little more and rake in some nice green without leaving the office. But it’s OK, the average counselor has attended a week long seminar and passed a test so the senior’s needs are well covered. Just ask your average independent escrow closer how well informed the borrowers of the new systems are. Go ahead HUD, let the industry modernize and manage itself…everything will work out just fine.

  • I work for a bank in Texas and I had a family member who went to these folks a few weeks ago and she just happened to pick them from the list because their name stood out to her. Ha! She told me later how nice they were and how much she appreciated them answering all of her questions, and not making her feel dumb about the questions she had. Our seniors out there need this kind of sounding board and it makes our job a lot easier as loan originators when the process isn’t held up with a long waiting list!

  • One of my borrowers used this company last week. Finally a counseling agency that doesn’t make these people feel like they are going to the DMV!
    They treated my customers as if they are just that; customers.

  • I am a Certified Signing agent that used to originate Reverse mortgages,  and if Quickcert is able to ease the confusion, make timely appointments, and provide easy to understand facts about the product, then I think they are exactly what the industry needs right now to improve the image, promote the product, and help the closing process run a lot smoother.  That also leaves the borrower feeling more confident about what they have just engaged in for the rest of their life.  I think opportunities like Quickcert might just be the beginning of a new climate in the Reverse business.

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