Editor’s note: RMD has learned that the launch of Hometown’s reverse mortgage division is forthcoming and is not yet operational. We will provide future updates as information becomes available.
Hometown Lenders, an 80-branch mortgage lender, will be launching a reverse mortgage division with the support of ReverseVision.
The company will work with the support of ReverseVision’s software and will begin offering Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECMs) and proprietary reverse mortgages through its branches across 38 states.
Seeing an opportunity
Hometown Lenders, based in Huntsville, Ala. and which has been operating for the better part of 30 years, recognized that there was an opportunity to expand their HECM product focus and will be leveraging the ReverseVision platform in an attempt to seize that opportunity. In the past 15 years, Hometown had only originated a handful of reverse mortgage loans, David Weinstein, recently-appointed national HECM manager at Hometown Lenders, told RMD in an email in advance of the division launch.
“One of the main reasons I joined Hometown Lenders (HTL) was for the opportunity to take the lead from a national perspective regarding the integration of the HECM product to the HTL loan officers and the customers we serve,” said Weinstein. “There was no one in the past who had the passion and knowledge to promote the HECM product and bring to light the benefits it provides. Hometown recognized this deficiency and is excited to move the company forward in this space.”
While Hometown will first operate as a retail lender, the company is excited by both the retail and third-party origination opportunities that exist, Weinstein said. It also plans to make reverse mortgage products available nationally through all of its branches through a measured, strategic roll-out process.
Aiming for ‘significant impact’
In terms of dedicated reverse mortgage employees, Weinstein will act as the leader of Hometown’s expansion into the HECM space, while also leveraging employees with sufficient experience to expand the company’s reverse mortgage activities.
“We have the structure in place to support both sales and operations, but I am the leader. From a designated reverse mortgage specialist standpoint, we have people in place now with the expertise that can move the channel forward,” Weinstein said. “We are excited about the opportunity to bring more Hometown loan officers into the HECM space as they gain more experience and earn their HECM specialist designation [within the company].”
Hometown employs more than 200 loan officers, and expects to make a “significant impact” in the reverse mortgage market, Weinstein said. While not ruling out possibilities in the future, Weinstein said that there are currently no plans for the company to introduce a proprietary product.
“For now, we are going to stick to the traditional HECMs as well as offer the investor programs,” he said.
In terms of personnel that will actually be handling the loans, Hometown plans to orient its existing roster of forward loan officers into originating reverse mortgages.
“For now we will have forward loan officers address the HECM clients,” Weinstein told RMD. “We feel this is a huge advantage initially as the originator will be able to provide a complete product offering to the client. As our loan officers evolve, we know there will be a select few that will be able to concentrate solely on the HECM product.”
Marketing HECMs, leveraging ReverseVision
In terms of Hometown’s marketing efforts, traditional avenues will be used in addition to making a push surrounding product education, Weinstein described.
“We plan on marketing the product in a variety of traditional ways,” he said. “This includes social media marketing, print advertising, continuing education classes for our referral partners, and local and regional seminars to help educate our referral partners and our clients.”
For its part, ReverseVision sees an opportunity in helping facilitate the entrance of a new player into the reverse mortgage marketplace.
“ReverseVision is proud to support Hometown Lenders as it strives to more fully meet the financial and retirement goals of its senior borrowers with a HECM lending channel,” said ReverseVision Vice President of Sales and Marketing Wendy Peel in a press release announcing the partnership. “Hometown serves as an example of how a large lender can successfully integrate HECM and reverse lines into their business model.”