Urban Hires 3 Former MetLife Managers for Reverse Mortgage Retail Growth

Urban Financial this week announced three new managers, formerly of MetLife, as part of an effort to ramp up grown in its retail reverse mortgage channel.

Geoffrey Wallace, based in California, will lead Urban’s western regional efforts, while Bill Cavanaugh will lead the Central region with Jim McMinn heading up the eastern efforts from his base in Connecticut.

Each area manager will manage a group of reverse mortgage consultants with plans to grow their respective teams, Urban CEO Steve McClellan told RMD.

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The hires are part of a larger plan to grow the company’s retail division, which comprises several different channels. The West Coast operation includes an outbound telemarketing center based on web technology to drive leads as well as boots-on-the ground originators. The company aims to have 20-25 people working for the three area managers with some hiring already under way.

The company has risen to the top wholesale spot in recent months following the exits of big bank players Bank of America and MetLife, and while retail currently comprises roughy 12%-15% of the company’s business overall, Urban plans to target retail growth to an extent.

“We want to grow expeditiously,” McLellan says. “We’ll find the right balance over time.”

Already licensed in most states, the company is targeting the entire continental U.S. with a concentration in areas of higher home values. MetLife’s recent exit will position Urban to hire selectively, McLellan says.

“We’re being extremely selective,” he says. “[MetLife] has some excellent producers and within them quite a few that fit well with the types of qualities we are looking for and a similar view of how we are approaching this business.”

As for the company’s long term outlook on growth, MeClellan says the HECM Saver presents a new opportunity that has not yet been fully realized.

“We’re beginning to see interest in the Saver program. The Saver appeals to a different client, so sourcing those customers is a little different. It’s one of the reasons we are excited about this retail effort. We’re beginning to get traction there and sooner or later home values will appreciate. That will be the ‘nitroglycerine’ in our fuel.”

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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  • Property values, really? More than ever property value issues are local, very local. Dreaming is one thing; understanding many of the underlying factors, quite another.

    As long as first time buyers are holding back and distressed home inventories and pent up inventory (of homes of potential sellers who want to sell but are under little to no pressure to currently do so) remain high around so much of the country, home values nationally will remain lukewarm or slightly chilled. Go to San Jose, California one of the hottest markets in the US and to Stockton, California the so called foreclosure capital of the US less than 80 miles away and you get the idea of what the US is facing.

    Where thriving industries exist, the average price of a starter home is near a million dollars (San Jose) and less than 80 miles away many homes which a few years ago were selling in the $400,000 range are still in the $25,000 range (Stockton). Phoenix, Arizona is a city on the rise yet with neighborhoods still controlled by members of the Mexican Mafia where property values just will not rise perhaps for years.

    The Administration as well as state and local officials are looking for ways to turn things around; for the Administration it is a reelection issue. State and local officials are desperate because of continuing losses in property tax revenues. For those who are waiting for the national picture of home values to change, you will be waiting for awhile.

    Urban is smart to focus on markets which are doing well. But if the industry really wants to turn things around, it needs to focus on more affluent seniors where adjustable Savers which are far less profitable have a real shot at doing well.

    It was interesting to read an article in another reverse mortgage publication that could have been written in 2007. The problem is the market is not heading in the same direction and the author ignored it in favor of trying to inject very wishful thinking back into the industry by concentrating on the overplayed information that the senior population is growing by 10,000 new entrants each day. But since that trend started we have gone from about 115,000 endorsements in fiscal 2009 to a pace where we will not reach 60,000 endorsements this fiscal or calendar year. Some fairly realistic prognosticators are questioning if there is sufficient demand for the endorsements for the calendar year to even reach 53,000 which would be a loss of over 25% in volume in just twelve months. Also since fiscal 2009, Financial Freedom, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and MetLife have all left the industry, facts that the author conveniently forgot to present.

    Urban seems headed in the right direction.

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