A panel of experienced reverse mortgage sales professionals expressed cautious optimism, an encouragement to abandon nostalgia, and belief in the promise of the ‘silver tsunami’ when asked to outline their perspectives on selling reverse mortgage products into the remainder of 2019.
This was the final part of a discussion among the sales professionals that took place at the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA) Western Regional Meeting last week in Huntington Beach, Calif.
“It’s good that we are speaking and listening to clients to try and determine exactly how we can help solve their current financial issues,” said Sherry Apanay, Chief Development Officer for Finance of America Reverse as moderator of the discussion.
Turning to the rest of the panel, Apanay asked each person to give one “positive takeaway” concerning business possibilities for the coming year.
“I’m still here,” said Bruce Simmons, reverse mortgage manager for American Liberty Mortgage in Denver, Colo. While he describes himself as in it for the proverbial “long haul,” Simmons expanded his perspective to express optimism fueled by the “growth and diversity” of proprietary reverse mortgage offerings.
“I haven’t done [a proprietary loan] yet, but they’re working on more diversity in loan programs in Denver,” he said. “And, the fact that we’re all still here shows our dedication, and we can explain that to our potential customers. If [they] need me down the road, I’ll be here.”
Simmons’ sentiment over the expanding availability of proprietary products was shared by Galen Call, manager of the reverse mortgage division at TreeHouse Mortgage Group in Monterey, Calif.
“We have choices to offer, and the menu has expanded,” she said. “I’m here to solve problems, and the problems [faced by retirees] continue. I’m here to give solutions, and they’re not used to hearing that.”
Lower current product volume may encourage some in the reverse mortgage industry to look back to the past at “better days,” when volume was generally higher. This is a dangerous and unproductive exercise according to Susan Perry, owner of Capital Funding in Orange County, Calif.
“We need to not look in the rearview mirror at what it used to be like,” Perry said. “We need to look at what it is today, and what it’ll be in the future. I [also] see hope and promise with the increasing prevalence of proprietary products.”
Perry also shared that many of the persistent and repeating reputational issues with reverse mortgages are starting to diminish now that the product is longer-lived.
“The product has been around long enough now that the old misconceptions are being diminished,” she said. “With more [availability of] different products, it’s taken us out of the dark ages. It’s a great time to focus on positives.”
Seize current opportunities
The need for more Americans to have easier access to equity, particularly as more older people have to confront retirement realities, is a point of immense promise for Michael Zwerling, sales manager at New American Funding in Tustin, Calif.
“There are over 80 million baby boomers out there, and we’ve done 1 million reverse mortgages,” Zwerling said. “76 percent of all Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck, and half of all people have no money for an emergency. There’s need to take dead equity to convert that money into cash.”
With senior home equity being at its highest recorded levels and a stock market that could potentially crash again in the future, Zwerling also advises his fellow reverse mortgage professionals to take advantage of the current climate while they can.
“There’s an opportunity right now while interest rates are low, which can allow people to unlock more equity,” he said. “Take advantage now, because it may not get better than this in the future.”