The good ol’ “Home Equity Conversion Mortgage” label — the official name of the federally insured reverse mortgage since the day President Reagan enshrined the products into law — won RMD’s recent poll about a potential product name change.
When asked to select their preferred name for the reverse mortgage from a list of seven options, the humble HECM took the top spot with 32.5% of the vote, followed by “Other” — an option that allowed voters to suggest their own names — in second place with 26.8%, and “reverse mortgage” capturing third place at 19.6%.
Of the potential new monikers that RMD cooked up in its amateur marketing lab, “Equity Release Mortgage” received the most support with 9.3% of the vote; variations on the “release” branding have proved popular in the United Kingdom, where lenders offer multiple types of “equity release” products. “Home Wealth Mortgage,” a name that plays on the commonly cited fact that Americans hold the vast majority of their personal wealth in the form of home equity, followed with 5.7% of the total ballots cast. Bringing up the rear were “Equity Freedom Mortgage” and “Equity Unlock Mortgage,” which each only captured 3.1%, or just six votes apiece.
In all, 194 RMD readers weighed in on the issue, and we thank every last one of you for making your voice heard. A special thank-you goes out to the whopping 52 of you who made your own suggestions after voting for “Other”; let’s take a look at some of the best and wildest names that RMD’s readership submitted.
- Equity Mortgage
- Flexible Payment Mortgage
- Equity Access Mortgage
- Home Equity Loan
- Home Pension Loan
- Home Balance Fund
- Equity Release Program
- Retirement Mortgage
- Senior Mortgage
- Equity Flex Mortgage
- The Flexible Mortgage
- American Home Income Program
- Reverse Equity Line of Credit (RELOC)
- Senior Equity Access Mortgage (SEAM)
- Equity Life Improvement (ELI)
- Seniorwise Mortgage
- Deferred Payment Mortgage
- FHA Equity Line
- Money Back Mortgage
- Sleep Well with the Peace of Mind Mortgage
- HECM: Your Pathway to Financial Help
- Home Equity Choices Mortgage
- Forward Thinking Mortgage
- Dreams Come True Mortgage
- Happily Ever After Mortgage
- Lifetime Line of Credit
- Home Equity Transformation Mortgages
Everyone’s a Critic
- Call it what you want, but the consumer always brings it back to reverse mortgage
- HOW TO LOSE YOUR HOUSE
- Anything that doesn’t have the word “mortgage” in it
- Should have been changed several years ago
- You seriously have no idea about the product and americans [sic] perception of it, stay out of the conversation
And we’d be remiss if we didn’t single out our two favorite joke answers. One voter channeled the spirit of the 2016 British boat-naming contest gone wrong and suggested Reversy McReverseface, while another thought the product might be better off with another name that’s been making mortgage industry headlines in recent weeks: Mr. Cooper. Sorry, Mr. Cooper fans out there — that honorific’s been taken twice over.
Perhaps the most thoughtful response came from reader Gerard Martinez, a HECM loan specialist at HECM Senior Home Financing, Inc. in Orlando, Fla. Martinez wrote an impassioned e-mail arguing for clearer a clearer distinction between the generic term “reverse mortgage” — which, as he points out, can refer to private proprietary products — and the federally insured HECM.
“I explain the difference to customers with the following simple analogy: A lemon is a type of fruit, but a fruit is not necessarily a lemon. Fruits can be bananas, apples, and peaches as well,” Martinez wrote.
“Whereas some other non-FHA reverse mortgage products that have been available — or are currently available — could be considered lemons, I would consider the FHA HECM Refi a peach,” Martinez continued, emphasizing the federal protections and underwriting guidelines that don’t come with private reverse mortgage products.
In Martinez’s opinion, getting rid of the “reverse mortgage” moniker entirely is the only way industry can completely shed the negative associations of years past and focus attention on the most common type of home equity conversion product on the market.
“If you want to help your clients, if you want to make money at this business and have a career you can be proud of, ditch the reverse terminology,” Martinez wrote.
Written by Alex Spanko