As some reverse mortgage lenders and originators are diversifying in response to the past fiscal year’s discouraging origination volume, other companies are adding resources and intensifying their Home Equity Conversion Mortgage focus.
Earlier this week, US Mortgage Corporation announced the addition of Joseph Susserman to its expanding reverse mortgage team, and their national reverse mortgage sales director Steven Sless said the firm hopes to add more industry veterans in the near future.
“We plan on hiring reverse-specific originators with a proven track record of success who have been able to weather the recent storm — and who share our same vision for the product going forward,” Sless told RMD, adding that he was “super excited” to add Susserman to the team. Susserman has been working with reverse mortgages since 2012.
“Joe is proven to be resilient through difficult times,” he said.
Sless was hired in June to help expand US Mortgage’s presence in the reverse space, with a particular focus on in-person informational sessions and other speaking engagements.
Currently, the Melville, N.Y.-based company is ranked 56 among reverse mortgage lenders, according to Reverse Market Insight.
Along with hiring new talent, the company offers reverse mortgage training to its current originators. So far, 31 of its 150 loan originators have completed the “US Mortgage Reverse Certification” course, and the company hopes to have that number hit 50 by the end of 2018, Sless said.
US Mortgage’s “why” for doing this is rooted in the current retirement savings crisis, as study after study shows that baby boomers’ wealth is tied up in their homes rather than in their savings accounts. Sless maintains that the HECM is often the answer to these increasingly common financial dilemmas in retirement.
“There is no better tool than a HECM to provide viable and tax efficient retirement cash flow strategies and [to] protect their existing portfolio from market swings and corrections,” he said.
While he acknowledges that diversification is important for companies — adding that US Mortgage would like to increase offerings — he said the company’s reverse mortgage team is dedicated to the product.
“There is still a path to success,” Sless said. “We just have to be understanding that we have to work twice as hard to get the same results or less — and that’s a hard pill to swallow.”
Sless said he does not pretend the last year was easy — but he is heartened by the reverse mortgage world’s resilience after other program changes, like Financial Assessment, crediting the industry’s “short memory and adaptability.”
To grow US Mortgage’s HECM and HECM for Purchase volume, real estate connections and referral partners will continue to be vital, he said.
“It sounds cliché, but hard work, grit, and determination is how to address these challenges,” he said.
Written by Maggie Callahan