Five Tips for Originating Reverse Mortgages Over the Phone

Reverse mortgages are unique and complex financial products, which is why many who sell these loans focus on kitchen-table originations. Meeting face-to-face is often viewed as the most effective way to connect with senior clients and guide them through the lengthy loan process.

But a number of top reverse lenders operate thriving call centers where originators are effectively doing the job over the phone. For those in-house loan officers, success depends on their ability to build trust and develop a connection without the benefit of meeting in person. If they can master that skill, their geographic reach means the potential is huge.

To find out what it takes to succeed in a reverse mortgage call center, RMD gleaned 10 tips from seasoned originators on how to close loans over the phone; the first five are below, with the second group coming in tomorrow’s edition.

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Tip 1: Uncover the problem.
There’s often an underlying problem that has spurred someone’s interest in a reverse mortgage, and a loan officer’s job is to help solve that problem. But before you can begin talking about how a reverse mortgage can be a solution, you’ve got to get to the root of the issue.

“The bottom line is there’s some underlying pain — it may be the loss of a spouse, it may be some health issues, it may be the loss of income or a job. It’s cash-flow related,” says David Karcher, regional sales manager at FirstBank. “If I’m a good listener, you’re going to spill what’s going on, and then I can inject what I know about this product and whether or not it fits. I liken it to going to the doctor. He sits down with you and says, ‘Why are we here? What’s going on?’ And he lets the client do the talking.”

Tip 2: Be sensitive.
Discussing the state of one’s finances is an intimate conversation, and encouraging someone to share their story requires a delicate touch.

“It’s about being honest, confident, and sincere,” says Eric Hurtt, a loan officer with Liberty Home Equity Solutions. “I like to ask permission to talk about things that might be sensitive to them. I don’t want to put them in a situation that might be uncomfortable.”

Being sensitive to the fact that the topic might be uncomfortable can help prospective clients feel better about opening up.

Tip 3: Tailor the conversation.
Acknowledge that every client is different and each one is approaching the conversation from his or her own unique perspective. Drop the script and get a sense of what type of person is on the other end of the line. Learn to change your approach and tone based on the vibe they give out.

“I’ve had loan officers who want the perfect 90-second script, but that’s not how it works,” says Karcher. “Every customer is different and you have to tailor the conversation to that person.”

Tip 4: Get personal.
Build a rapport with clients by learning more about their personal interests. Take a break from the finance talk for a minute to connect as people.

“If they are a college football fan, you want to talk about college football,” says Karcher. “Or if they like to hunt or fish or knit or crochet or they’re a cat lover — find that personal information and log those facts so that you have a connection point when you go back to them.”

“At the same time, don’t be afraid to share information about yourself. ‘I’m a husband, I’m a father, I’ve got three daughters,’” he says. “Then they can understand what stage of life I’m in and what challenges I’m facing.”

Tip 5: Anticipate questions.
“There are really 10 or 15 questions that a customer has, and every time you answer a question you are building trust,” says Karcher.

Anticipate what questions a borrower is going to have and work on strong responses that are direct, concise, and clear. This will enhance your credibility.

Written by Jessica Guerin