As originators determine their overarching plans in the midst of low volume and lower principal limit factors, two reverse mortgage originators have turned their sights to politics.
Paul Dilks, a reverse mortgage specialist with Investors Home Mortgage, is running as the Republican candidate for the First Congressional District of New Jersey for the U.S. House of Representatives — and Christine Jensen, the Arvada, Colo. branch manager for Fairway Independent Mortgage Corp., is running as the Republican candidate for Colorado Senate District 20.
Dilks says he is running because he feels there is too much corruption in New Jersey, and top in-office goals for him would be working with the the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Federal Housing Authority.
“If I get into office, they are going to see sweeping changes to FHA and sweeping changes to the reverse mortgage industry,” he says.
To help the industry in the aftermath of last year’s principal limit reductions, he says he would work to roll back the PLF changes to half of what they have become since the October 2017. For New Jersey specifically, he wants to find a way to help senior homeowners with high property taxes, adding that these bills average $8,000 per household annually in the state.
“The reverse mortgage by its original design is no longer helping the people it was intended to help originally,” he says, explaining many of the seniors who he would like to help cannot qualify without a life expectancy set aside — but cannot do a LESA because of the high property taxes.
He would also like to create a way to open up newly appreciated equity for HECM borrowers who have exhausted their loan proceeds. This would also keep more loans from being transferred back to HUD for servicing, he says.
“It would open up the continued service for the lender,” he says. “If someone is smart enough to take out a reverse mortgage at 62 and at 77 they’ve used up all their equity, let’s take into account the new value and open up new equity based upon new value.”
To help the Mutual Mortgage Insurance fund, he says he has some unique ideas. In terms of foreclosures, he says he would assist the FHA in getting foreclosed homes back on the market within six months.
“It’s crazy that a house can sit there for 7 or 8 years. The MMI Fund is decimated because of all the loss to the properties,” he says. “The longer a home sits in foreclosure, the more it costs the FHA and the more the home loses value because it becomes an eyesore to a community.”
Overall he feels his experience in the mortgage industry would be beneficial.
“I take pride in knowing what I know and I feel I could offer quite a bit,” he says.
For Christine Jensen, she says politics seems like a natural progression for her, as she wants to further serve the same senior community that benefits from reverse mortgages.
“People who work in reverse mortgage, don’t they just have a heart for helping people, for serving and doing the right thing?” she says.
Jensen has been spending time speaking with the senior community in her area and explaining to them ways she’d like to relieve their financial burden. One way is to broaden Colorado’s senior tax exemptions so that they can carry them over to new residences if they downsize or move.
Her campaign is also addressing the rising cost in health care, especially for prescription drugs.
“I think our state legislature can do more with price transparency and allow for shopping for prescriptions across state lines or over the internet to help them pinch pennies a little bit to get the prescriptions they need and not break the bank,” Jensen says.
She’s also working to stem the many tax increases that will be proposed on the next ballot.
“If you are on a fixed income, you just can’t afford those types of increases,” she says.
And when it comes to weathering political attack ads, Jensen says that no one is better equipped to do that than a reverse mortgage professional.
“When we think about the characteristics of people who are still working in reverse mortgages, these people are already dealing with adversity and negative perception,” she says. “Those are the people who are skilled at making sure people are very informed and educated.”
Written by Maggie Callahan