Fox Business Host: Reverse Mortgage Pitches Need Refining

The reverse mortgage product is still largely misunderstood, and those who market reverse mortgages can use a dose of reality. That’s the message presented by Bob Massi, also known as Fox Business Network’s “Property Man,” who is also a practicing attorney based in Las Vegas.

On his show, Massi has covered reverse mortgages on a number of occasions, including the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage for Purchase product and found wide interest among his audience about topics relating to reverse mortgages or Home Equity Conversion Mortgages.

“This includes not just baby boomers, but also their children who want to understand how it works and how it affects them,” Massi tells RMD.

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The research Massi did for the segments, as well as outside research unrelated to his reporting, also netted some knowledge about the public perception of reverse mortgages, as well as the types of sales tactics used among industry professionals.

“The biggest thing I learned is how many people don’t understand [reverse mortgages] as consumers,” he says.

In an upcoming presentation to industry members attending ReverseVision’s UserCon next month, Massi plans to help industry members understand their audience, including how professionals should present the product and how they can improve the sales process, including special emphasis on the HECM for Purchase product.

“HECM for Purchase is an excellent product that the majority of the industry admits isn’t necessary fully understood or sold properly,” says Wendy Peel, VP at ReverseVision. “We are thrilled to have Bob Massi provide his expert insights into how to best sell H4P and build a lead network for this niche product.”

A focus of Massi will be on how originators can better position reverse mortgages for consumers.

“One of the biggest things is how they present the product,” he says of several reverse mortgage originators he met with during research for the conference presentation. “The presentation was patronizing.”

But given the interest among baby boomers and their family members, the message is highly worthwhile, he says. Recent studies indicate roughly half of Americans don’t feel they will be prepared for retirement, and home equity still ranks high among prospective retirees’ sources of wealth.

Further research shows today’s younger workers may also be inadequately prepared for retirement, with a recent TD Ameritrade survey showing 37% of Generation X members will never be ready for their golden years, as reported by USA Today.

“The baby boomers may be even worse, because we spend every dime we have,” Massi says. “I think there is a flavor for [the reverse mortgage] but you have to be able to make the consumer understand that this is something that is good for them. Consumers today are very educated… there’s a lot to overcome.”

Massi will speak on February 8 at ReverseVision’s UserCon in San Diego. 

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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  • I am not sure what kind of handle into the solution Bob has but change is needed. We are either trying to seek out referrals from those who by and large think of us as playing out of our league and otherwise, still stuck in a needs based message, hunting for the trigger that will cause the senior into going to counseling and completing an application.

    Perhaps Bob is out of his league but there is nothing wrong with hearing him out.

  • I am glad to see Bob Massi trying to make an effort on educating our industry leaders on reverse mortgages.

    Over the years I have listened and watched Mr. Massi make many statements on the HECM product that were outright wrong!

    In fact, about five years ago, I put out a challenge to FOX News and to Bob Massi to have a live debate on air on the HECM product, I was turned down! I was very disappointed because I felt the record needed to be corrected and Fox’s audience deserved to hear two sides go at it.

    However, I wrote FOX News about some of the broadcasts and mistakes made by Mr. Massi and they did acknowledge the fact that I was right. Fox News was forthright enough to come out live and admit to certain statements that were in error by Bob Massi.

    I hope in the upcoming Reverse Vision presentation, Mr. Massi does his homework well, especially on the H4P product! I hope he is well prepared to address this crowd of real professionals of our industry!

    John A. Smaldone
    http://www.hanover-financial.com

    • You really should provide (post them) those responses from FOX, that you claim were favorable to your assertions. You need to back-it-up.

      Unfortunately, there are so many critical posts we see from the same (not you, particularly, but two others) cynical posters that turn-out to be so “picky” that they don’t rise to anywhere near the level of “erroneous/misleading” they claim them to be.

      • Ed,

        I understand where you are coming with this, I would never say anything I could not back up. This did occur.

        The comments and retractions that came out live did not mention my name in the FOX News broadcast retraction. However, it was my request for the debate that caused FOX News to retract what was said by Bob Massi.

        This was about 5 years ago, I will look to see if I can still find that letter and if I can, I will be more than happy to post it or at least send it to you!

        Thanks Ed,

        John

      • Jim,

        I have been looking for the letter FOX sent me, the letter just stated they turned down my request for the debate with Bob Massi. If I can find it, I will e-mail it to you and see if I can post it on RMD.

        For the life of me, I don’t know what I did with the letter but don’t count me out yet Bro! You make it a good one Jim.

        John

  • I “DVR” all “The Property Man” shows and they’re very good.

    Using a real-life, episodic example of the “applied Reverse Mortgage” in-the-wild can, probably, really sticks in the minds of viewers. But, I can say from watching the long, “pitch” type ads of a Tom Selleck, I never remember a word of it, even after seeing the ads multiple times; except for the part about “it’s not another way for the banks to take your homes”: which isn’t exactly an aspect you’d want to emphasize, anyway.

    Maybe the best way to advertise Reverse Mortgages is to forget about the defensive, “folksy” stuff, and take one or two of the best features of the program, and just hammer it.

    • Ed,

      Perhaps “viewers” could do with fewer sticks (“can, probably, really” stick vs. “can, probably, really sticks.” Then do “really” and “probably” actually go together in consecutive adverbs with no conjunctive inbetween? Oh, well).

      AAG does not seem to have done badly with Tom Selleck, after all they are by far the largest HECM originating company in the country. I am not that sure if AAG would have fared better with you at the head of their marketing department. You seem lost in personality versus results.

      Yes, there needs to more advertising emphasizing the best features of the program but hammering? You and I may have taken differential equations in upper division math at one of the acclaimed universities in this country but few others get too excited about a feature like the line of credit which does not pass down to heirs, especially when an ever growing percentage of seniors are carrying larger forward mortgage balances due on their principal residences and hold fewer overall assets net of debts than their elders as younger seniors turn 62.

      As to profitability, low balances due throughout the live of a HECM do not drive profits into the hands of lenders. Please justify your claim that hammering home the best features of HECMs at the same advertising cost will bring in more profits than Tom Selleck’s folksy and very credible way of ensuring peace of mind.

    • Mr. McSherry,

      It appears you missed the shows that John Smaldone saw. Like John I saw some of the same shows where Mr. Massi attacked HECMs. At least one is documented in a RMD post by the RMD staff a few years ago.

      As to the campaign I read you recommending, several originators I know have tried it and failed. As a case in point, in 2005, a retired Air Force Major was a successful HECM originator. He had a degree in a math related field, had been in the industry for several years, had had a HECM on his own home for over five years and was quite successful at gaining applications at his regularly scheduled dinner and HECM lectures at a local casino. BUT he got side tracked by starting to pound home the value of the line of credit in his lectures. He went so far off as to claim that borrowers could obtain a positive rate of return from the line of credit if taken at a reasonable time before termination. After attending one of his lectures, we had a long discussion in which he realized his flaw was the repayment of the loan at termination. Soon he returned to his far more successful Vet Nam helicopter pilot veteran style of selling. Soon his relatively high level of production was back in full swing.

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