Citing unnamed sources, Politico reported Wednesday that the Trump administration is set to tap former Federal Housing Administration commissioner Brian Montgomery for a second tour of duty in the role.
Montgomery held the post from 2005 to 2009, originally serving under George W. Bush and retaining the position during the early days of Barack Obama’s first term. Prior to his role at FHA, he served the younger Bush as an assistant to the president.
Since leaving the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Montgomery has remained active in the housing and mortgage lending industries, serving as the vice chairman of the Collingwood Group, the financial and lending advisory firm he co-founded back in 2009. He’s also been something of a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage advocate, lending his voice — and his federal housing bona fides — to the reverse mortgage conversation at several points since his departure from public service.
Just two years ago, Montgomery said he’d let his own mother take out a HECM if the situation was right for her, according to The Mortgage Reports columnist Tom Kelly.
“I told her that I was her son and would always be looking out for her best interests,” Montgomery said at the time. “I also told her that I administered the program for the United States of America and thought it was a pretty good idea.”
A little further back down the road, Montgomery wrote a thoughtful piece about the HECM program for his firm’s blog in 2010, addressing the issues facing the products at the time and positioning the reverse mortgage as a vital tool for certain seniors.
“There is no escaping the fact that the reverse mortgage product helps address a growing concern: How can we better ensure that the nation’s growing population of seniors will be able to age in a comfortable and secure environment? What better place to do that than your own home?” Montgomery asked rhetorically. “For many families, a reverse mortgage is a win-win.”
“The reverse mortgage product has at its very core an essential social purpose,” Montgomery continued.
Back in the present, the perhaps soon-to-be nominee called for splitting the HECM program from the general Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund and merging it into the General Insurance and Special Risk Insurance Fund, citing instability in the HECM Fund’s appraised economic value: For instance, in 2015, the HECM Fund had an economic value of $6.78 billion, a number that plunged to negative $7.72 billion the following year.
“The amount of volatility is evident by the wide swings in the economic value of the HECM books of business over the last three years,” Montgomery said in a November 2016 piece.
Montgomery’s FHA tenure also saw the introduction of the HECM for Purchase product in 2008. In testimony before the Senate’s Special Committee on Aging in February 2007, he touted the H4P: “Our HECM program shouldn’t just allow seniors to take cash out of their current homes, but should permit them to move to housing that better meets their needs as they age,” Montgomery told the Senate.
He also had kind words for HUD’s reverse mortgage program in general.
“The program has been tested for 15 years now, and has proven to be not only successful, but a model for the reverse mortgage industry,” Montgomery said.
President Trump raised eyebrows in the housing and mortgage industries when he nominated Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon and former 2016 Republican presidential foe, to lead HUD despite having no related professional experience. Should Trump indeed select Montgomery for the FHA post, he’d join a fellow Bush-43 veteran with actual housing and public-service experience in deputy HUD secretary nominee Pam Patenaude, who awaits Senate confirmation.
Written by Alex Spanko