Reverse mortgage wholesaler and correspondent lender Live Well Financial announced last week that it has received approval to issue Ginnie Mae HECM-backed mortgage securities—more than three years after submitting its application.
“We were encouraged to see they approved us,” says Michael Hild, chairman and CEO of Live Well, who attributes the timing to a changing environment for GNMA issuers. “I’m not so sure that approval would have happened if it were not for [the exits of] Bank of America, Wells Fargo and all of the [issues] at MetLife right now,” he says.
Live Well, which ramped up its forward business in the wake of Fannie Mae’s exit from reverse mortgages and is now refocusing on reverse mortgages, says it will look to begin issuing as early as March of this year.
“Since FNMA was our only investor for reverse mortgages, FNMA’s decision to pull out was a significant blow to our company,” Live Well said in a company press release. “When GNMA then decided to place a moratorium on new HMBS issuers, that decision essentially relegated us to the sidelines of the industry. Given that reverse mortgages were the only product Live WellFinancial offered when GNMA put its moratorium in place, these circumstances created an enormous challenge for us.”
The Richmond, Virgina-based company has built a forward business in the meantime, but says it may consider getting into retail reverse mortgages in the coming year as well.
“We’d all like to see more reverse and less forward,” Hild says. Live Well is still ironing out the details of a retail channel, but says it is growing its correspondent and wholesale business in the meantime and is looking to partner with correspondent loan sellers and wholesale brokers as it reinvigorates its reverse business.
While Ginnie Mae’s HMBS issuer list still holds just 15 names as of December, and the list is shorter for those actually issuing, Hild says the approval is a good sign for the future and the timing is essential.
“I think this is good news for the industry,” he says. “…it’s been so long [since we applied], it’s a little bit of a surprise. In large part, it’s a function of what’s going on at other companies.”
Written by Elizabeth Ecker