Willow Bend Mortgage Launches Into Reverse Space With New Division

There may be some uncertainty ahead for reverse mortgage lenders, but that isn’t stopping Plano, Texas-based Willow Bend Mortgage from entering the reverse mortgage market. In fact, the company sees the upcoming Financial Assessment as an opportunity. 

The “forward” lender to date has launched a new reverse mortgage division and has plans to expand into eight states, including Texas, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, Arkansas, Michigan and Oklahoma. 

And with the Financial Assessment still in the near future, the company says it’s a good time to expand its offerings to include reverse mortgages.

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“It’s amazing that so many players within the reverse space are really shying away from [the Financial Assessment]; we see this as a great opportunity,” says Reverse Mortgage Divisional Manager Mike Hicks, who is heading up the division’s staff recruiting efforts. “It’s still going to be a product that’s well-served and needed. This will just put a better threshold on the program overall.”

Willow Bend started originating reverse loans in January and will have completed a handful as of this week, with a pipeline of another dozen under way. While the company’s reverse operations currently focus on retail, Hicks says they have plans grow a wholesale reverse mortgage channel in the future. 

This year, however, Willow Bend — whose forward side includes 10 branches with about 75 loan officers — will be hiring reverse mortgage professionals in hopes of growing over the next few years to become one of the top reverse mortgage lenders in the nation. 

As for its strategy, Hicks says the reverse mortgage for purchase is a “great opportunity.” 

“We all know that the reverse mortgage for purchase has not quite taken off the way it should have. That’s been an untapped market up to this point,” says Hicks, who worked with reverse mortgages for six years before joining Willow Bend in October 2014. “So we want to do our best to get out and educate the realtors in Texas.”

Willow Bend intends to host seminars and presentations to realtors throughout Texas and will be focusing in on 55-plus communities as an opportunity to appeal to the entire audience of potential buyers. 

Though the company has not yet held any presentations, “that is our game plan moving forward,” Hicks says.

Written by Emily Study

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  • Here is a statement showing how much this novice group understands the market: “It’s amazing that so many players within the reverse space are really shying away from [the Financial Assessment]; we see this as a great opportunity.” Which players?”

    It is lenders who have been begging for financial assessment since 2009. These guys did their due diligence? Perhaps for the Hong Kong market.

  • Willow Bend only illustrates the fact that more entrants will simply cannibalize the positions left behind by former reverse mortgage lenders and those of weak participants. They are not likely to grow due to “an expanded pie” other than one that is marginally so in fiscal 2015. But Willow Bend better be prepared to hold with both hands in fiscal 2016, since a shrinking number of endorsements during fiscal 2016 could shake them right out of the market.

  • I wish Mike Hicks and Willow Bend only the best. They have a great attitude and that is what it is going to take in the months and days ahead.

    I see some of the comments made. one by my friend The_Cynic. Some good points made, especially about being prepared to hold on with both hands in fiscal year 2016 if shrinking endorsements continue. If that happens we all have to be prepared, I am going to take the optimistic path and say we are going to come out just fine in the end!

    Congratulations again Mike, good move.

    John A. Smaldone

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