Tips for Forging Reverse Mortgage Referral Partnerships with Attorneys

Referral partnerships can be the bread and butter for a reverse mortgage originator, helping to facilitate borrower leads that may not be within the sphere of influence of a particular loan officer. Real estate attorneys can prove to be among these valuable referral partners, but there are also some things that one should know before attempting to forge those kinds of connections.

“The first thing [loan officers should know] would be that they need to be prepared to educate that lawyer about their product in a way that’s not a sales pitch, and that’s educational,” says Gary M. Singer, a board-certified real estate attorney in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. in a recent interview on The RMD Podcast. “We get approached, as lawyers, a lot by people who want us to refer stuff.”

This also leads to a second idea, which is that lawyers don’t have as much business to refer as some people think they do, Singer says, since clients are usually sent to attorneys instead of the other way around. Still, when those situations do arise, there is one key attribute that makes lawyers excellent referral partners.


“We [as attorneys] tend to be very, very loyal and send [referrals] to people that have done a good job by our clients in the past,” Singer says. That connection can feed directly into the reputation of the lawyer, and if his or her reputation can be bolstered by forging an effective referral partnership, the lawyer will generally be more receptive.

“When you do approach that lawyer, you have to show that you’re going to make them look good,” Singer says. “That you’re going to get the job done, reasonably, quickly and you’re going to be communicative about the process.”

Being communicative and having a demonstrable way of showing these things could help an originator find a new, potentially lifelong referral partner, Singer says.

“I’m [often] still referring to the same people I referred ten years ago because I have to trust my reputation to them,” he says. “Lawyers are typically extremely concerned about their reputation. Me personally, if I don’t feel comfortable referring something, I’d rather tell someone that I don’t have anyone to refer and will instead offer up a resource to go look up rather than put myself out there.”

Still, solid lenders and loan officers who are in the lending industry at-large, but those with a demonstrable record of preserving or bolstering their partners’ reputations will naturally get more attention, Singer says.

“I definitely have my go-to folks that have proven that they know what they’re talking about, and can get the job done,” he says.

For more of Gary Singer’s perspectives on the reverse mortgage industry and the interactions between it and the legal profession, listen to the latest episode of The RMD Podcast.

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  • Great job Chris.

    Even though some things he shared seemed to be contradictory, you brought out some great points out of him.

    For example, Gary mentioned that attorneys would be far more interested in knowing uses of the HECM (even though he said reverse mortgages) rather than knowing how it works; however, again and again he returned to using needs based seniors for illustrative purposes. So far Gary does not seem to realize the extent that reverse mortgages are being used today. This issue presents a real opportunity for whomever he currently works with on reverse mortgages.

    It was interesting that you seemed to downplay the loss in volume that has occurred in endorsements since fiscal 2009. Even our six year period of secular stagnation (starting with fiscal 2013) had a slightly downward trend in endorsement loss. Fiscal 2018 was not a bad year for HECMs as to either fiscal 2016 or now. While fiscal 2016 was a slightly better year for HECM endorsement volume, this fiscal year is settling on a 32% to 33% loss in endorsements when compared to the endorsements of fiscal 2018. A percentage loss in that ranage would exceed the largest percentage loss in endorsements for fiscal 2010 (31%) when compared to fiscal 2009.

    Worse the number of applications reported to HUD for June 2019 was down 5% from June 2018. Based on the four month lag rule of thumb for the average endorsed HECM to go from reporting the application to endorsement, the vast majority of the apps that close will be endorsed n fiscal 2020.

    Optimism, really? We do not need optimism to move this product forward. It requires a feasible marketing plan and hard work. How and when the situation will turn around is up to someone at a higher pay scale than anyone I know in the industry.

    Chris, the interview was so good despite its failings that it would be great if you would take this same approach with CFPs , wealth management advisers, RIAs, CLUs, CPAs and other financial services participants. Keep up the good work.

  • I agree with Jim Veale, Chris did a very good job in interviewing Gary Singer.

    In reading this article, Gary could not been more accurate in his advise on how to approach attorneys, that is, providing you want to team up with them as referral partners!

    When it comes to attorneys I must agree with Gary, lawyers don’t have as much business to refer as some people think they do!

    However, I have found that when dealing with “Elder Law Attorneys” you will get more referrals from them as other specialized field attorney’s.

    As a suggestion for originators, partner up with an Elder Law Attorney and a Home Health Care provider, create a solid bond with them! Once that is established, put on an educational workshop with them at your public library or Chamber of Commerce, you will find that you will get plenty of traction from it!

    In fact, get your county on aging department involved as well, they may even sponsor the educational work shop for you! Today, creativity is the name of the game, do something different than what the rest of the pack is doing!

    There are so many other referral partners an originator can team up with. Realtors, CPA’s, Builders, Motor Home dealerships and I can go on and on.

    Who ever you partner up with, take Gary Singers advice, be well educated on your product, don’t be a pushy sales person, make the referral partner feel important and very much involved in the process. Also, learn as much as you can about the potential referral partners business. This is extremely important, understand them and their business, this will be so very important in establishing a good communication channel between everyone.

    Again, I can go on and on on the subject of referral partners, especially business referral partners.

    This was a good article because if you really read into it properly, it will lead to so many other avenues of potential business for the originator!

    John A. Smaldone

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