Liberty Home Equity Solutions, a reverse mortgage lender and division of Ocwen Financial Services, has rebranded under a new and simplified brand name: Liberty Reverse Mortgage, a name which calls back to the company’s roots. The company will also begin operating as a division of PHH Mortgage Corporation. Both measures are effective as of March 15.
The changes in both the company’s name and its divisional hierarchy are being made strictly for operational reasons, and is not expected to impact or change the services that Liberty provides to consumers in any way. Business partnerships will also remain unaffected, according to a company spokesperson.
The company will continue to maintain its base of operations in Rancho Cordova, Calif. to focus exclusively on delivering reverse mortgage solutions. Also remaining unchanged in this transition is employee and leadership teams, products, pricing, operating processes and levels of service. Incidental details like company and employee phone numbers will also remain unaffected.
The company does have a new URL for its website, however: libertyreverse.com.
Material effects of the change, ‘back to our roots’
In terms of a material difference that the new name and structure will make on operations that customers and partners will be able to discern, there likely shouldn’t be any according to Liberty President Mike Kent.
“For our retail and business customers, there is no material difference to doing business with Liberty under our old and new structure,” Kent tells RMD. “Our people, products, pricing, operating processes, and exceptional service levels will remain the same as under our current name and structure. The primary advantage to being under the PHH umbrella is that it enables us to simplify our legal structure with more efficient financial reporting, auditing, and regulatory review processes.”
The name and structure changes have also been on the table for some time, going back to at least late summer/early fall of 2019, and the change in the name is something of a homecoming that proved potentially beneficial based on Liberty’s own research.
“We have been planning the name change and new structure for over 6 months with the launch timing scheduled based on the lead time required for internal process changes and regulatory approvals,” Kent tells RMD. “Liberty Reverse Mortgage was the original name for our company when it was founded in 2004. We felt it made sense to return back to our roots and use our original name which had significant recognition and equity in the reverse mortgage industry based on consumer research.”
Inquiries in the current environment, structural improvements
The current low interest rate environment appears to be affecting the way that consumers try and explore their options in terms of how they gather information for mortgages, and Liberty intends to meet the challenges and opportunities created by the current climate with the same team.
“We believe that the low interest rate environment is driving more people to search online for mortgages,” Kent says. “The new infrastructure under PHH is not expected to change how we operate as a business. We will continue to generate reverse mortgage leads, applications, and loans exclusively through our Liberty team based in Rancho Cordova, Calif.”
There will also be other key advantages. On the retail side, marketing reverse mortgages to eligible PHH servicing customers will be easier, since Liberty and PHH will now be a part of the same legal entity, Kent explains. Meanwhile on the B2B side, sales synergies can be improved among multiple offerings.
“[These include] forward correspondent lending, reverse lending, sub-servicing and flow MSR purchases,” Kent explains. “We hope to build deeper relationships with our business partners by providing them exceptional service and a full-suite of products.”
There can also be improved dialogue between company personnel that deal primarily with traditional and reverse mortgages, respectively.
“Being part of PHH will allow the reverse team to better access forward originators and allow for potentially greater distribution opportunities of our reverse mortgage products,” Kent says.
Liberty parent company Ocwen announced its intention to acquire PHH Mortgage Corporation in February of 2018, and the acquisition was finalized in early October 2018 in a deal valued at $360 million-in-cash. The combining of the companies was expected to reduce servicing and origination costs, as well as lower fixed costs, as redundant corporate costs would be cut and consolidated.
In the summer of 2019, remaining details of the acquisition were finalized, consolidating the brands that Ocwen’s mortgage services would operate under. The following month, Liberty announced the availability of EquityIQ, its own proprietary reverse mortgage product designed to serve homes of home values that may be higher than the Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-enforced lending limit which is currently $765,600.
Liberty Home Equity Solutions is currently ranked as the fifth largest reverse mortgage lender by Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) volume, according to data from February 2020 tabulated by Reverse Market Insight (RMI).