CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo: Reverse Mortgages Prepare for “Critical” CFPB Study

CNBC’s Closing Bell with Maria Bartiromo took a look at reverse mortgages in a Friday segment featuring The National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association’s Peter Bell and Chris Thornberg of L.A.-based Beacon Economics. 

The segment touches on the new reverse mortgage public awareness campaign launched last week by NRMLA and serves as a dialogue to address some common misperceptions about reverse mortgage loans. 


“The CFPB is getting ready to release a critical study,” Bartiromo says in introducing the segment.

Bell fielded questions from Thornberg and Bartiromo addressing issues from fees to fraud. View the segment.

View the segment on

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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  • How is Maria sure that the CFPB report will be harsh?

    Why would Peter say that a drop in home value after the loan is originated would not make any difference to the homeowner? It may not impact the loan but as a homeowner, I doubt many homeowners would agree with Peter’s conclusion.

    From the information on the screen, Chris does not seem to understand that all reverse mortgages are just non-recourse mortgages. He also does not seem to understand that going under water alone will not trigger the due and payable clause. I wonder if Peter could see those screens?

    Personally, the term soup to nuts seems so out of place but that is one way to describe it.

    Chris has real presence and authority with his strong economic formal education and years of experience. Even though Peter had the facts on his side, Chris made his case and unfortunately made it well even though it was full of nonsense and Peter did an yeoman’s job of trying to combat it. Chris made the CFPB case for more regulation even though he is flat out wrong!!!

    • “Chris made the CFPB case for more regulation even though he is flat out wrong!!!”
      Unfortunately, this is very true. The messenger is as important as the message to getting the truth out.

      • But this should not be about whether or not Chris is a formidable figure or not, it should be about getting the facts RIGHT and clearly Chris did not have his facts correct. He did not sound like he really knew what he was talking about, just that he is in favor of more regulation.

      • EricSD,

        You are so right but who guaranteed life or TV opinion segments were fair?? After all this was not Fox News (FCOL); it was CNBC.

  • Interesting debate. I do think, with all due respect that Chris needs to take the “Basics 101” on reverse mortgages. This man needs to fully understand the product. He seemed to be more opinionated in his delivery.

    Peter, on the other hand, gave precise answers and come backs and did well with what little time he had to present his case. I did not agree with what he said about falling home values not making a difference with the homeowner. However, I don’t think Peter meant it the way many people may have taken it, present company included.

    A lot was said about regulation, yet on the other hand, nothing was said about it. I don’t believe Chris has a clue as to what regulation is needed or not needed. Chris used the word like a sword to impress the audience but has no knowledge of what regulations we have in force today or what may be coming on the horizon!

    I don’t agree with the Critic as far as Chris making unknowingly a good case for the CFPB on more regulation. As far as I was concerned, Chris was not specific on what kind of regulation was needed.

    Lets face it, the CFPB will create more regulation, regardless if it is needed or not needed. If the CFPB was so concerned about the consumer and regulations to protect them, they would be doing one thing they have not talked about or have done thus far!

    That is, examine in detail all the regulations that are on the books presently. They would also research thoroughly what regulations are being enforced or not being enforced today. The CFPB would also look at what regulations could be eliminated, not only what can be added!

    This is the main problem of today! What regulations do we have on the books today, what is not being enforced and what is being enforced.

    We don’t need more regulations my friends, if anything we need fewer regulations. If the CFPB implements another 2,600 pages of regulations today, in another two years, we will see the CFPB come up with an additional 2,600 pages of regulations because nobody enforced the first 2,600 pages!

    There will be no end to this unless a strong stand is taken against the over regulation burden placed upon the American people and the financial industry, who is going to take this stand?

    John A. Smaldone

    • Whether the argument was rational or not, Chris did a good job of presenting it. I have generally respected Chris in his recommendations. These had little basis in fact but he nonetheless was quite persuasive in what he said.

      As to their distinction from other mortgages, the knowledge Chris has is like a three gallon pail in comparison to the Great Lake size knowledge, Peter has at his command but in the CNBC segments like the one in question, perception means far more than fact, knowledge, or even truth. It seemed both Peter and Chris were set up. It was a sad segment on many levels.

  • Unfortunately this is a common theme with industry. You have a so called “Expert” on finance or consumer protection or some other entity that really has no clue about how a reverse mortgage works or how it is used and even how it is currently regulated. Chris is just one in a long line of people who are more interested in getting on TV or being quoted in the newspaper and look important then they are about actually taking the time to learn about our product. They do not realize the damage they do nor do I think they really care. Just because they may be experienced and successful in one area does not make them qualified to give damaging opinions on a subject they clearly know nothing of very little about.
    And the media is just as bad, they are so pressured into finding stories and angles that they do not take the time nor probably have the time to do the proper research that is required. I thought Peter did a pretty good job under the circumstances.

    • EricSD,

      So why announce to the industry that CNBC will be the launch of this campaign?

      I disagree about Chris. Relying on the work of Consumer Union does not appear that outrageous. What we need to realize is that Chris needs education.

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