Friday Round-Up: Asking HUD to Update H4P, Best Rate’s New Site

Welcome to the first “official” weekend of summer, and with the long July 4 holiday coming up on the horizon and a potential watershed moment for our nation’s health care system fast approaching, here’s a quick look at the reverse mortgage headlines you may have missed from the week that was.

NRMLA Asks HUD to Revise Non-Borrowing Spouse, H4P Rules — Responding to a call from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for guidance on how to eliminate certain regulations — in turn spurred by a pair of executive orders from President Trump — the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association asked for key updates to non-borrowing spouse rules and the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage for Purchase program, along with other potential HECM rule changes.

Reverse Mortgage Referral Firm Hits Airwaves, Targets Consumers — Best Rate Referrals launched Mortgage Advisor, a new all-in-one website designed to connect consumers with product-specific experts. The referral firm has major plans for the new site, with SVP Ray Bartreau telling RMD that he expects lead volume to grow by 300% over the next six to nine months as Best Rate Referrals rolls out a planned radio and TV campaign.


Annuities ‘Safer’ Than Reverse Mortgages, Economist Claims — Boston University economics professor and former independent 2016 presidential candidate Laurence Kotlikoff wrote a column in favor of annuities over reverse mortgages, citing high HECM fees and criticizing the counseling process as ineffective.

Finding a Reverse Mortgage Use for Every Income Bracket — On the other end of the retirement advise spectrum, personal finance blogger Tom Davison wrote about the various uses of HECMs for retirees regardless of their income or retirement-planning status, from a homeowner that just needs help paying the bills to a “well-funded” borrower who wants to make aging-in-place upgrades — or potentially move to a larger home.

Moody’s Downgrades Ocwen Amid Regulatory Issues — Ocwen Financial Corporation (NYSE: OCN), the corporate parent of Liberty Home Equity Solutions, took another hit this week as Moody’s downgraded its outlook to “negative” amid ongoing regulatory issues on the state and federal level.

Reverse Mortgages Around the Web

The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) spoke with HUD secretary Ben Carson this week, and the neurosurgeon-turned-housing official expressed his commitment to helping vulnerable classes of people, including the elderly.

“We have an obligation to take care of people who can’t care for themselves — the elderly, the disabled, the mentally ill — and certainly at HUD we’re going to take care of those people,” Carson told the WSJ.

As he has in other public comments, Carson expressed a preference for using public-private partnerships to provide for lower-income Americans, saying such initiatives would “make them able to provide for themselves.”

“Over and again, Dr. Carson reiterated his believe that the best way to help people is to help them do for themselves,” the WSJ concluded. “He envisions an agency that’s much more focused on enhancing human capital.”

Carson came under fire recently for calling poverty “a state of mind,” a headline-grabbing nugget in a longer interview that saw the secretary suggest that the agency should be renamed the “Department of Housing and Community Development” to reflect the fact that HUD doesn’t solely operate in cities.

HUD also drew coverage for multiple other non-HECM reasons this week, including President Trump’s decision to appoint Lynne Patton — an event planner who helped organize son Donald Trump Jr.’s wedding — to run the HUD regional office that covers New York and New Jersey, as well as reports that the president’s proposed housing budget would retain a program that personally benefits him while slashing many others.

Written by Alex Spanko

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