Having Brands Like MetLife in Reverse Mortgages Helps, Here’s Why

In the last seven days, we’ve seen the power of having a company like MetLife in your industry.

A study released last week by the MetLife Mature Market Institute on reverse mortgage findings has driven media conversation about the product.

While not necessarily touting the positives or negatives of the use of the reverse mortgages in retirement, the study has led to substantial press coverage—and it’s largely favorable.

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Sponsored by MetLife and featuring data collected by the National Council on Aging through its reverse mortgage counseling sessions, the data shows that reverse mortgage borrowers are getting younger.

Something we’ve long known, yet it has led to coverage in national publications from the New York Times to Time online, The Washington Post, and smaller, far flung outlets across the country.

While some, like the New York Times, chose to focus exclusively on the study findings, others, such as the Washington Post, seem to be reminded instead that it might be a decent time to brush up on what’s new in reverse mortgages (and they’re finding the Saver, lower fees, increasing borrower needs and a more positive outlook from financial professionals than in recent memory).

In either case, there seems to be a major shift in mainstream media coverage leading up to and following the report.

The coverage is further evidence that reverse mortgages are no longer a “last resort” and are a viable option—for some people. This industry acknowledges that reverse mortgages are not one-size-fits-all, and it seems finally the news coverage has caught on to this important fact.

“Common misconceptions about reverse mortgages are numerous,” stated the Washington Post last week before debunking several myths: that lenders can’t kick borrowers out of the home, that heirs will not be stuck paying off reverse mortgage debt.

“Reverse mortgages have always been viewed as a last resort…But in the wake of the housing market’s collapse and high unemployment, a new study has found that people are using reverse mortgages to alleviate more urgent financial pressures…” The New York Times wrote following the study release.

“Once widely seen as money of last resort, reverse mortgages are fast entering the mainstream of retirement income,” TIME wrote this week.

Interestingly enough, people are calling reverse mortgages more mainstream even as Bank of America and Wells Fargo have left the industry.

Not all the big players are gone; those like Genworth Financial Home Equity Access and MetLife are still here. The study from last week is evidence of the power these type of companies can have on the public perception of reverse mortgages.

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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  • Elizabeth, you did a good job writing this article. It is about time the true positive benefits to a reverse mortgage is brought out by the media and yes, Met Life did a great job in the study they released.

    The press did exactly what we could have hoped for, print the positive and leave the negative where it belongs, in the past!John A. Smaldone

  • Before commenting on the report, one must understand the
    relationship of MetLife MMI to MetLife and MetLife Bank.  MetLife MMI is completely independent of MetLife and MetLife Bank.  It is like saying that MetLife Stadium is part of MetLife. While MetLife owns the name rights to the stadium, it is not the principal owner of the stadium.

    Any in depth look into the MLMMI and NCOA March 2012 report shows little relationship to the way that use of the proceeds is being recommended by the financial community.  Near its end, the report states: “…Using home equity as more than a ‘last resort’ can help to keep cash shortfalls from becoming big problems. For example, homeowners may choose to use these funds to provide more choice and control in their lives; pay for home repairs, tax bills, and other choices which allow them to stay in their homes. In some situations, a reverse mortgage may stabilize a difficult financial situation such as forestall a foreclosure and allow time for the homeowners to find more effective solutions to their cash flow problems. Use of this strategy, however, can increase financial risks, therefore borrowers must be careful in managing their spending as not to create greater cash flow problems.”

    There is nothing recommended in the report which is outside the concept of the loan of last resort.  The report actually demonstrates a general lack of understanding of cash and financial management.  It fails to assess any strategies for their risk.  It lacks rigor and vigor.  So all in all, it was not particularly negative nor was it all that positive.

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