Top-10 reverse mortgage lender Live Well Financial is rolling out a website relaunch and a new set of longer-format television ads airing nationwide, the company announced this week.
The new commercials, which are airing in select markets, feature reverse mortgage testimonials rather than a reverse mortgage spokesperson as some other national advertisers have opted to do. Their launch is well timed with the new site rollout at LiveWell.com—a domain purchased recently by LiveWell—the company’s CEO tells RMD.
“We were interested in securing the LiveWell.com domain for over a decade, but it was owned by someone else,” says Michael Hild, LiveWell chairman and CEO. “It was recently made available for sale and we purchased it. The television commercial launch is something we have been pursuing for quite some time. It is pure serendipity that the commercials and new domain dovetailed at the same time however. We were lucky on the timing.”
The commercials feature several testimonials for reverse mortgages and the company, giving LiveWell an opportunity to allow its customers to tell their stories. The company has not ruled out other options, however.
“Our hope is to let our customers do the talking, rather than paying a celebrity for an endorsement,” Hild says. “Now with that having been said, the paid spokesperson approach must work. Otherwise, the other companies in the industry wouldn’t be doing it. We aren’t sure if our testimonial based approach will resonate with customers, but we are giving it the college try. If they don’t pan out, we will go in a different direction.”
LiveWell Financial, which had closed 2,011 reverse mortgages over the 12-month period ended April 30, according to data compiled by Reverse Market Insight, has risen the reverse mortgage lender ranks for both retail and wholesale, with an increased emphasis on retail of late.
The company garnered attention in late 2012 when it rolled out a series of new reverse mortgage products following Federal Housing Administration program changes. Today, it is bringing a new focus to its retail channel, with the hope that its marketing efforts will drive retail lending forward.
“We have historically been a purchaser of loans and a wholesale lender,” Hild says. “Given the volume challenges the program has seen, and the fact that we are a GNMA HMBS issuer, we felt we had an obligation to do some retail lending not only to improve our own situation, but to help restore volumes for the industry.”
Further, the company says its renewed approach is well timed with welcome FHA changes.
“When originated properly, the product can have a tremendous benefit for retirees,” Hild says. “The recent changes FHA has made relative to Financial Assessment and Non-Borrowing Spouses will go a long way to ensuring that borrowers are protected, yet still remain required to fulfill their obligations associated with the loan. This give us a lot of hope for the future as we only want to do loans where the borrower is in a position to benefit, but also perform on the loan. We applaud FHA for helping improve the chances for success for everyone involved.”
Written by Elizabeth Ecker