New Trade Group Seeks to Educate Realtors on the HECM for Purchase Program

In an effort to boost the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage for Purchase program, a Florida trade association recently formed to educate Realtors and other professionals about this frequently overlooked option.

In January, Certified Reverse Mortgage Professional Tim Linger formally founded the HECM Association, after a couple years of beta testing. The reverse mortgage industry has not taken a very active role in teaching Realtors about this loan, Linger said, and the association will work to change that.

“Approximately 99% of all Realtors do not know the HECM for Home Purchase even exists, even in states like Florida where 35% of all homes sold last year were sold to those aged 62 and over, according to the National Association of Realtors,” said Linger.

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The association’s mission is to “provide education, to maintain relationships, and to help with marketing.”

The program offers continuing education credit courses and a certified HECM specialist designation. The two- and three-hour classes meet in-person and through online webinars, with programs targeted to the various boards of Realtors in the state. To become a certified HECM specialist, agents must pass a 30-question exam following the completion of the course.

Because of negative connotations surrounding reverse mortgages, Linger said that marketing the courses has been crucial. Using the word “HECM” and not “reverse mortgage” in the courses’ titles — HECM for Home Purchase: Special Senior Financing and The Morals and Ethics of the FHA HECM — was a “game changer,” Linger said.

“The hard part is getting the Realtor to attend the webinar or live class,” Linger said. “Once they come, the interest is amazing. It’s 100 percent.”

He said real estate professionals are eager to learn more about the loans once they find out there is an FHA program that allows borrowers to purchase a home by putting up half of the market price up front, then financing the rest through a loan that does not require monthly payments.

Kie McCarthy, a broker associate and certified HECM specialist in Orlando, Fla, is one of the course instructors. He said that H4P is probably the mortgage product most misunderstood by Realtors, and he hopes the association will help eliminate the loan’s bad reputation.

Another instructor on the roster, Mike Flahaven, holds a senior housing professional certification and has been educating seniors on a variety of age-related topics for the past 18 months.

As the program advances, Linger hopes to secure a big-name lender to sponsor the program.

“We just need to open up people’s minds to what (H4P) has to offer,” McCarthy said. “We have mortgage people, financial planners, and others in the industry who just need to understand the opportunity.”

This edition of the RMD Report is sponsored by national appraisal management company Landmark Network.

Written by Maggie Callahan