In an increasingly competitive reverse mortgage lending environment, more than ever, experienced originators are having to refine their sales practices in order to close loans.
From the kitchen table to the call center, loan officers are focusing in on tried-and-true best practices. Several originators shared their tips during the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association Western Meeting last week.
Make yourself known. Relative to the number of reverse mortgage eligible residents in the U.S., there are very few reverse mortgage experts. Even among forward loan originators who offer both forward and reverse mortgages, visibility is paramount in today’s market.
“They have to announce themselves to their sphere of influence,” says Scott Harmes, reverse mortgage division manager for San Diego-based C2 Financial, of forward brokers that have gone through C2’s reverse mortgage training and certification. “As you think of the people you know … they all know a couple dozen realtors, and a couple loan originators, but you are probably the only reverse mortgage specialist they know. We give [originators] the tools to announce themselves to their sphere of influence.”
Work with the adult child. The adult child of a prospective reverse mortgage borrower can be a major hurdle to any deal. Often coming to the conversation with abundant questions and scrutiny, adult children typically have done some research and have questions and notions based on the information they have gathered. Originators can work to address the scrutiny head-on by including the adult children in the meetings with prospective borrowers and asking for their questions upfront.
“[The adult daughter] will say something like, ‘I understand these loans are a ripoff. They cost too much,’” says John Luddy, VP of reverse mortgage lending for Norcom Mortgage, based in Avon, Conn. “Repeat exactly what she has said to you. Act surprised and end the sentence with a question. ‘These loans are a ripoff?’ Then stop. Now the ball is out of your court to defend the loan it it’s her her court to defend her statement.”
Originator can then explain the misconceptions around the product or dispel any myths brought up by the adult children.
Celebrate success. Within an organization, it’s important to focus not only on the challenges of the current operating environment, but the successes, says Don Giorgio, founder CEO and president of United Northern Mortgage Bankers, Ltd., based in Levittown, N.Y.
“Make sure you celebrate the success,” he says. “Celebrate with the person next to you, celebrate with the company. It makes you a happier person.” This, he says, will lead to more success.
Positivity, too, goes a long way, Luddy says.
“We hear a lot of doom and gloom about what’s going on in our industry,” Luddy says. “Play the cards you are dealt; don’t fight with the dealer. Take what we have and make something out of it.”
Be an expert. Above all, it’s important to maintain expertise during this time of change. With several new rules, including those relating to loan terms and treatment of non-borrowing spouses, originator expertise is paramount.
“You have to be able to understand the product so well to not seem patronizing to the adult child who has a doctorate in math and the mother who has lost her fastball,” Luddy says. “There is a different level of understanding between being able to sell something and being able to buy something. Don’t expect your senior borrowers to do your job. Don’t expect them to sell the program to the adult children. That’s your job.”
The same is true for overall education, Giorgio says.
“Our biggest obstacle is not the client, it’s the public perception,” he says.
Written by Elizabeth Ecker