HUD Reverse Mortgage Changes Hit Originators Hard, Volume Falls

Concurring with recent data showing the reverse mortgage industry’s decline in volume following substantial program changes implemented in October 2017, many individual originators claim their volume has decreased between 10% and 50%.

Exact volume losses vary widely by lender, but most agree the cut runs deep and industry data reflects a more-than 20% decline in volume according to recent data analysis.

In talking with fellow industry members, Lynn Wertzler, president of Greenleaf Financial in Portland, Ore., said he thinks that the volume decreases for individual brokers are pretty significant.

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“My general sense is that the decline has reached 25% to 50% or more, but that is based on anecdotal information, not hard data,” said Wertzler, a certified reverse mortgage professional.

For Tim Linger, CRMP and owner of HECM Senior Home Financing in Orlando, Fla., his volume has decreased by about 50%. As his numbers started dropping, he added forward mortgages to his product offerings.

Beth Paterson, CRMP and executive vice president at Reverse Mortgages SIDAC in St. Paul, Minn. said she doesn’t have an exact percentage for her loss of volume, but she knows it has dropped significantly since the principal limit changes last October.

“It’s low,” said Paterson. “The calls we get unfortunately just don’t qualify.”

Although she said January to February is generally a slow time, Ellen Skaggs, a CRMP and the reverse national sales manager with New American Funding in Tustin, Calif., said that her company is bringing in less than the same period last year.

“My company is only down about 10% in comparison to this time last year,” said Skaggs, who has four reverse loan originators working on her team. At the beginning of the year, she also added a call center team with two sales reps.

Skaggs acknowledged that her numbers could be bleaker but said that taking a more positive position when presenting the reverse option has helped.

“For the product to be successful, people need to stop apologizing for the cuts and start embracing it,” she said. “They have to sell to it, because it is what it is. We are selling the best thing we can have, and it was for the stability of the program.”

Shifting to more fixed-rate loans, and focusing on Home Equity Conversion Mortgages for purchase have also helped her numbers, Skaggs said.

Harlan Accola, a CRMP and national director for reverse mortgages at Fairway Independent Mortgage in Madison, Wis., said that his team’s volume is actually up 36.2% year to date. Fairway currently has fewer than ten full-time reverse originators.

“It really comes down to the Fairway relationship with financial advisors, real estate agents, and forward loan officers,” he said.

While volume is down for most, originators like Paterson and Skaggs agree they have primed currently unqualified borrowers for a reverse mortgage in the future.

“I can tell people how they can get in better shape to be ready to do a reverse mortgage in a year or two,” Skaggs said.

Written by Maggie Callahan