Reverse Mortgage Originators Step Up for Borrowers Long After the Loans Close

Few originators’ duties are complete after a client’s reverse mortgage has been closed. For many borrowers, these reverse mortgage specialists continue to be the first point of contact when assistance is needed with their loan.

Although some borrowers have general questions, servicing issues are often the reason why an originator hears from a borrower again.

Lynn Wertzler, president of Greenleaf Financial in Portland, Ore., said he recently had a client whose servicer erroneously cancelled his reverse mortgage line. The client found out when contacting the servicer about an unrelated homeowner’s insurance matter, and he immediately called Wertzler for help.

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“He was able to get the loan reinstated, but not without being a pretty capable guy and a lot of my help,” Wertzler said. “I don’t think that would have happened without someone knowledgeable helping him.”

Tim Linger of HECM Senior Home Financing in Orlando, Fla. also spends time helping clients long after closing. To anticipate servicing problems that may arise, Linger has an “Authorization to Release Information” form that he presents to clients at application. If they opt to sign it, it gives Linger permission to call the servicer on a client’s behalf.

“The wording is very basic, but it gets me access,” Linger said.

Recently, Linger had a call from a client who was informed by the servicer that he had received his last term payment, when he actually had eight years of monthly payments remaining. After a lengthy phone call with an employee of the servicer and, finally, a manager, he was able to get clarification and resolve the problem.

“This is the kind of stuff loan officers can do to help clients after a loan is closed,” he said. “The client was very grateful.”

Aside from specific servicing issues, Wertzler also fields many general questions about the ongoing process of having a reverse mortgage. Common questions are about loan balance, amounts in the line of credit, or inquiries from spouses or adult children.

“We have calls all the time from borrowers with post-closing questions that they could probably get answered by the servicer, but they feel more comfortable speaking to us,” he said.

In addition, Wertzler observed that many times the borrowers who contact him with post-closing questions are his needs-based borrowers.

Beth Paterson, executive vice president at Reverse Mortgages SIDAC in St. Paul, Minn., commonly answers these questions, as well as assisting with servicing issues. She recently helped a borrower who wanted to draw funds from her line of credit after her reverse mortgage was assigned to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“The servicer said that a client couldn’t draw her remaining funds, and we intervened and called HUD on her behalf,” she said. “She thought I was a miracle worker.”

Written by Maggie Callahan

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  • These types of calls are becoming more and more frequent as the baby boomers start to come into the technology world and have more access to bank accounts online, etc. It is so frustrating for me to try to intervene (even if I have an information access letter) and still try to get the servicing representative to understand the problem. Many times I have to get the client to send me their statement before I can even understand the problem (as many of the calls are not from my previous clients, but others whose realtor or financial planner suggested they call.) I have to almost always ask for a supervisor or utilize my relationships through NRMLA with the servicing staff to get a situation resolved. You always DO hope your own clients think of you when they have a situation or you probably are not doing your job.

  • Getting help to seniors even after closing should be what originators do. I have an acquaintance in AZ who does this and much more for seniors. In order to avoid misrepresenting our true recognized areas of expertise, it seems prudent to restrict what we help our former clients with.

  • Helping clients with servicing issues has been such a part of my 10+ years experience as a HECM loan officer that I was surprised to see it as the subject of an RMD article.

    Sadly, many of the front-line servicer personnel with whom our borrowers speak are apparently ill-prepared to deal with seniors and as a result our borrowers leave those conversations more confused and frustrated than when they started and they turn to us for help.

    I applaud Tim Linger for taking the initiative to have an authorization signed giving him the ability to contact the servicer on his borrowers’ behalf. Shame on me for never having thought of that – I plan to start doing the same thing!

    • >>Sadly, many of the front-line servicer personnel with whom our borrowers speak are apparently ill-prepared to deal with seniors and as a result our borrowers leave those conversations more confused and frustrated than when they started and they turn to us for help.

      That hasn’t been my experience. Throughout the years, when I’ve had to contact the Servicer, the front line Representatives have been good to excellent.

  • I’m glad these originators are there for their clients, but what this article really points to is the lamentable incompetence and poor customer service that many borrowers experience at the hands of their servicers. As a counselor, I hear more and more of these stories lately and it really makes me worry for vulnerable borrowers. I’d like to see NRMLA or HUD or CFPB — someone! — looking a lot harder at this end of things and demanding better training and oversight. Beyond the harm done to individual borrowers, this kind of experience really gives the industry a black eye when borrowers and their families talk to friends about what they’ve gone through.

    • Hear! hear!

      I have to say that my own originator has had to work miracles to straighten-out my servicers’ astonishing screw-ups.

      One systemic problem is that servicers have no accountability. A borrower can’t just change servicers
      because of bad service as they can change travel agents, etc., for example. With some inconvenience, people can even change a realtor, but not a Reverse Mortgage servicer. And the servicers know this well.

      Servicers operate as a poorly run city hall, with commensurate, low-quality staffers; who also know that they won’t easily be fired any more than if they held a civil service job.

      If there has been a spike in the complaints by borrowers, with regard to their servicers, I’m wondering if the recent changes at the notorious “Consumer Bureau” has had anything to do with this.

      Yes, it seems that this bureau has been used as a political attack-agency against selected “corporate America” in the past. However, here, it gets murky.

      If the consumer bureau was holding Reverse Mortgage-Servicers’ feet-to-the-fire, at least to some degree, ironically, maybe this was the only thing they (the consumer bureau) was doing right.

      In any case, “the servicer incompetence problem” is a real and significant one, and should be addressed somehow by (the new) HUD.

      Recent reports (here on RMD) of this problem, specifically (see complaints received by Connecticut legislature/politicians) indicate that, when local governments are made aware of the problem and question the servicers about it, the servicers claim that borrowers are too unintelligent to understand the program/contract. And, of course, the politicians will buy this.

      One would mistakenly imagine that, after over 2000 years of civilized government from which we’ve emerged, this sort of “continuous-loop-of-idiocy” couldn’t exist. However, “pass-the-buck ” and “who cares about the little people” are concepts so affectionately-held, that government is likely to evolved “above” it, slower than the morphing of lavre into the stickbug.

      Uh, what’s difficult to “understand” when borrowers send the servicer “urgent paperwork” one day, and told by the servicer that it’s been received, and then the next month (after that paperwork hasn’t had the expected effect), told by the servicer that they never received it?

      The fear: a borrower getting a bogus foreclosure letter someday.

  • If an originator has the passion for seniors and the reverse mortgage business as his or hers life work, automatically you are there for the long haul!

    To many originators, especially newer ones coming into the space look at doing the loan as a one time shot and they look at how much money they can make on a loan. That does not work and that type of a mindset on the part of an originator, means he or she will not last long term!

    Tim Linger,s idea is a great one, Tim has an “Authorization to Release Information form” that he presents to clients at application. If they opt to sign it, it gives Linger permission to call the servicer on a client’s behalf. Now that is thinking long term!

    Not only that but what a referral source Tim has established for a long time to come with that senior client. When show you are ready, willing and able to be there for your clients the way Tim is doing, they will refer other seniors to you!

    John A. Smaldone
    http://www.hanover-financial.com

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