A Mich.-based mortgage banker is getting serious about expanding its product offerings to include reverse mortgages, so much that the lender has launched its own division to specifically focus on the origination of Home Equity Conversion Mortgages.
Headquartered in Ann Arbor, Mich., Huron Valley Financial (HVF) is a full-service mortgage banking firm and Fannie Mae seller and servicer. The company maintains retail, wholesale and correspondent lending channels and originates a variety of products, including conventional loans, FHA, VA, USDA-RD, jumbo loans, construction loans and reverse mortgages.
This month, the company announced the launch of its wholly-owned reverse mortgage division, 1st National Reverse Mortgage, led by industry veteran and Certified Reverse Mortgage Professional, Mike Gruley.
As the new reverse mortgage division looks to drive volume, it plans to leverage the existing retail, wholesale and correspondent lending platforms of HVF.
The advent of new HECM program changes created greater consumer protections for reverse mortgage borrowers, while financial planning research in recent years has made a case for the effective use of home equity in retirement income planning.
But while these developments have helped reverse mortgages overcome their long-held loan-of-last-resort reputation, HECM complexities and market nuances have heightened the barriers to entry for forward mortgage lenders to add these products to their service offerings.
By leveraging HVF’s existing lending platforms, 1st National Reverse Mortgages hopes to make these barriers to entry easier to traverse for non-reverse players.
“We think we can play an intermediary role to introduce smaller banks, credit units and mortgage companies to reverse mortgages—helping them with the process and offering them a more hands-on service than perhaps a big wholesale lender could,” Gruley told RMD.
“They have a long track record of success and their commitment to the reverse mortgage space is absolutely unmatched,” Gruley said. “The entire HVF team possesses the talent, skill and passion to grow a sound, reputable reverse mortgage business.”
Formerly with 1st Financial Reverse Mortgages, a division of Success Mortgage Partners, Inc. in Plymouth, Mich., Gruley served as the director of the company’s reverse lending operations. Year-to-date, Success Mortgage Partners totaled 67 HECMs through September 2016.
“Speaking on behalf of my entire executive management team, we are thrilled to have Mike Gruley leading this new division for HVF,” said Eric Bradley, president and CEO of HVF, in a press release. “Having personally known Mike for years, we all consider him one of the foremost leading experts in the reverse mortgage industry and feel fortunate to have him join our executive management team.”
Joining Gruley at 1st National Reverse Mortgage is Mike Hicks, who will serve as vice president of the company’s national retail sales. Previously, Hicks served as reverse mortgage divisional manager for Plano, Texas-based lender Willow Bend Mortgage.
“I am also tremendously excited to welcome Mike Hicks, as head of retail sales, to our team,” Gruley said. “Mike’s personal character, knowledge and leadership are all strong positives for our company.”
1st National Reverse Mortgage is actively recruiting personnel to add to its reverse mortgage team, with plans to have around 15 originators before year’s end, Gruley said.
While the launch of 1st National Reverse Mortgage is not the first foray into the reverse market for HVF—the company has originated HECMs in the past—the creation of this distinct division signals a greater focus from HVF to grow this segment of its business.
Part of the motivation stems from the demographic trends of the U.S. aging population and the need for more retirement-oriented financial tools that help people age in place.
“HVF believes this is a market they need to serve,” Gruley said. “They are genuinely committed to the benefits reverse mortgages can provide for people, and the company sees this [1st National] as a separate business that creates value to people who are in the retirement stages of their lives.”
With retail branches located throughout southeastern Michigan, HVF is licensed to lend in Michigan, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, North Carolina, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
Written by Jason Oliva