US Mortgage Corporation Eyes Reverse Expansion with Sless Hire

US Mortgage Corporation on Monday announced the hire of industry veteran Steven Sless as its new national reverse mortgage director, a move that the lender hopes will expand its reach in the space.

The Melville, N.Y.-based US Mortgage has offered reverse mortgages for about the past seven years, but owner and CEO Steven Milner sees an opportunity to expand his company’s reach in the marketplace.

“We’ve been looking for that person who’s willing to travel and spread the gospel about the reverse loan product,” Milner told RMD. “I think it’s a great product for a senior.”

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Sless, who most recently worked as a branch director for Huron Valley Financial, has built his career on an in-person approach to explaining the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage to seniors, hosting dinner-based speaking engagements in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

“We’re looking to take that model and expand that in different regions of the country where we think the proper person would be able to present that,” Sless said.

To that end, the company plans to hire a team of speakers to host senior-focused events in several key regions across the country, including the Florida panhandle, Texas, and Tulsa, Okla. On the internal training side, Sless and US Mortgage will aim to help traditional forward loan officers to view the HECM less as a product of last resort, and more of an additional implement in their loan toolboxes when working with older borrowers.

US Mortgage Corporation currently sits in 58th place on the Reverse Market Insight list of top 100 reverse mortgage lenders, originating 30 loans through the end of May — a 43% increase from this time last year.

Despite that individual gain, overall trends in the HECM space are moving sharply downwards as both lenders and borrowers attempt to sort out the ramifications of the most recent program changes, introduced October 2. Various companies have sought to either ignore the changes in their marketing materials entirely — noting that it doesn’t make sense to tell borrowers about a hypothetically better product that no longer exists — or emphasize that the lower principal limit factors make the HECM safer and allow borrowers to preserve more home equity.

Sless’s strategy will largely revolve around pitching the product as a safe, positive solution for certain borrowers in retirement, with a specific emphasis on educating seniors directly.

“We’re looking for very methodical growth as we expand our reverse program,” Sless said. “I view the changes as an opportunity. I think there’s a lot less competition now than there was last month, and than the month before, and than the month before that.”

Written by Alex Spanko

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  • While the last paragraph is merely stating the obvious, it is an interesting time to watch lenders gobbling up the share of the pie left by others. As some lenders weaken due to their best either moving to another industry or another company, stronger companies jump in by finding ways to excel. Unfortunately that does not result in the industry growing since the endorsements lost each month are not being fully replaced by the stronger lenders.

    As endorsements stay low or in all likelihood drop for at least some of the months before the start of fall, 2018, there will become greater demand for top producers and strengthen the sales staff at other lenders. Yet there comes the saturation point where most lenders simply cannot find the volume to grow without reducing origination costs or lowering margins.

    With the estimated average loss per each HECM endorsed last fiscal year at an all time high for the HECM program as part of the MMIF, will HUD pull back from further reductions to PLFs? It is hard to see that the changes HUD made on 10/2/2017 were sufficient to drive losses per HECM endorsed in fiscal 2018 any lower. Right now it is anyone’s guess but unless HUD substantially changes its assumptions and the actuaries go along with the assumption changes, it is hard to see HUD pulling back from further reductions to PLFs. While it is likely that Secretary Carson and Commissioner Montgomery will do what they can, it is hard to see what course of action is available to them other than returning the HECM program to the G&SRI Fund.

    Good luck to Mr. Sless in his efforts.

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