In New AAG Spot, Selleck Asks: ‘Why Not’ Use Home Equity?

American Advisors Group this week debuted its latest television commercial starring actor Tom Selleck, who this time asks older Americans why they aren’t using the equity built up in their homes.

Set in the same finely appointed loft apartment as a previous Selleck-centric spot, the new ad finds the “Blue Bloods” star telling seniors that they’re sitting on more than $6 trillion in total home equity, citing a statistic from the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association’s Reverse Mortgage Market Index.

As in a previous commercial for the Orange, Calif.-based AAG, Selleck directly addresses potential borrower concerns head-on in the two-minute advertisement, titled “Why Not Use It?”

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“I think reverse mortgage loans are misunderstood sometimes. Maybe some retirees just don’t trust them,” Selleck says.

“They can sound too good to be true. But the fact is, in some ways, a reverse mortgage loan is not that different than a traditional mortgage,” he continues, calling the equity that the homeowners have already paid into their properties “kind of a savings plan.”

The new ad — along with a shorter 60-second version — began running Monday on the big four broadcast networks as well as a variety of cable channels, according to a release from AAG. It marks the third time that the 72-year-old Selleck, also famous for his starring role as TV’s “Magnum, P.I.” from 1980 to 1988, has appeared in a spot for the reverse mortgage lending giant; in previous ads, Selleck has likened retirement planning to a “three-legged stool” and told viewers that, like them, he once thought a reverse mortgage was too good to be true.

“The new campaign direction focuses on the fact that many older American homeowners are struggling to fund their retirement despite the enormous amount of home equity that’s available to them,” AAG chief creative officer Teague McGrath said in the release. “Tom Selleck has a deep appreciation of this problem and understands how reverse mortgages could be a critical component in many seniors’ retirement funding.”

Selleck himself agreed.

“Reverse mortgages have been undervalued and underutilized for too long in this country,” the actor said in the release. “Senior homeowners should have a way to use their hard-earned home equity to help fund their retirement.”

Latest in a long line

Selleck signed on as AAG’s primary spokesman in June 2016 to replace Fred Thompson, the “Law & Order” star and former Republican U.S. senator from Tennessee who died in November 2015. Other firms have used the older-actor formula to pitch reverse mortgages to the nation: Robert Wagner appeared in ads for Lender Lead Solutions, James Garner promoted Financial Freedom’s products, and Henry Winkler starred in a One Reverse Mortgage campaign.

The trope is so entrenched that it has become fodder for comedy: Last fall, late-night host Jimmy Kimmel directly spoofed the Selleck commercials with an ad for a “reverse reverse” mortgage, in which a future version of Kimmel told seniors about a product that would allow them to borrow as much cash as they wanted — with their kids getting the bill once they died. Even former President Barack Obama got into the act in 2015, cracking a one-liner about his greying appearance at a Washington press dinner.

“Now, let’s face it, being president does age you,” Obama said. “I was hoping that Fred Thompson would be the Republican speaker so I could buy a reverse mortgage.”

But lenders see value in employing trusted spokesmen who themselves would qualify for a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage.

“Our research reinforced the widespread recognition and respect that Tom Selleck has garnered among Americans and crosses generations,” McGrath said when AAG introduced the actor as its spokesman.

Written by Alex Spanko

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  • It is hard but hardly impossible to argue with this logic. The ad is well done and does not present HECMs as too good to be true. Yet what is not used in a reverse mortgage strategy is home equity, although for the less informed it seems as if it is.

    The real issue is why not use the home as collateral for a mortgage that could improve cash flow throughout retirement? While one cannot manage the value of the home (it is what it is) except within limitations, one can manage many aspects of debt.

    While the acquisition of a reverse mortgage cannot guarantee that seniors will not run out of cash during retirement, it can certainly improve the risk that running out of cash will occur. To improve cash flow during retirement requires the active participation and cooperation of the retiree with a competent financial advisor.

    To rely solely on the advice of an originator or counselor to fully understand reverse mortgages can be detrimental to the cash flow outcome. Spending some money and time to ensure a successful outcome is not a wasted investment of cash or time. So choose an advisor carefully and try and avoid those who want to manage your assets. Success requires effort but not necessarily excessive effort. Tending to the success of a garden, tending to cash and other financial matters can yield positive results.

    The amortization schedule is helpful but has huge limitations. Carefully review your monthly mortgage statement and compare it the amortization to see how it varies. Get your originator to help you the first few times and always remember to get your questions answered even if it takes going through several people when talking to the mortgage servicing company which may not be the lender.

    Like good cars, reverse mortgages will do what it is you intend but you must know how to accomplish your goal which at times demands a good map and in the case of a reverse mortgage, a well designed plan with a purposeful and careful attention to detail.

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