Although it has been in the reverse mortgage business for several years, Irvine, California-based HighTechLending is making changes it hopes will put its name into the Top-10 list of lenders.
Based in Irvine, Calif., the company already employs 30 reverse mortgage loan officers at its headquarters and in offices in Sacramento, Calif. and Seattle. The company recently rolled out a wholesale channel as well, led by Joan Imelio, vice president of the reverse mortgage division.
“Over the past two years, we have begun to make reverse mortgages a focus,” says Don Currie, HighTechLending president. “It’s our primary specialty these days.”
HighTech has also announced a new partnership with Premier Senior Home Equity, a “broker roll-up” business under the direction of former Financial Freedom president Bart Johnson and Liberty Street Financial’s Tony Garcia.
The self-proclaimed “super branch” will be managed by David Darling. While the group had been through several transitional partnerships to begin with, the opportunity to recruit has grown, Johnson says.
“The window of opportunity has remained open much longer than any of us expected,” he says.
The company plans to grow based on its former relationships and by offering brokers an opportunity to own part of the business, a model which they tried previously with other companies. Monte Rose, former retail leader at Financial Freedom and more recently a sales manager for MetLife bank, has also joined the company.
The group first tried to launch independently in 2010, and later partnered with Security One Lending. The concept comes with a private equity investment from Boston-based partners Benson and Botsford.
Even after a few false starts, Johnson says this time the company has the right fit.
“High tech is the best fit for us,” he says. “It has a very similar vision to ours. Our idea was always to partner with somebody who had already made an investment and is concentrated on growing in the market.”
The growth will come through two channels: retail operations and converting brokers into branches.
“We’ve had the disadvantage of two false starts, so many interested brokers may be at a wait and see point,” Johnson says. “But many who have landed elsewhere may come back to our plan, which includes an ownership stake.”
Despite a shrinking market, the group sees a growing opportunity to expand through its two channels and meet the needs of consumers who will increasingly rely on home equity in retirement.
“The market is now vastly underserved and has no other answers,” Johnson says. “The industry is compressed, but demand isn’t. Demographics demand a solution.”
Written by Elizabeth Ecker