Some Lenders Buck March Reverse Mortgage Declines

Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) endorsements fell by 14.1% in the month of March 2020, for a total of 2,905 loans according to the latest HECM Originators report from Reverse Market Insight (RMI). The fall was led by the wholesale endorsement segment of business, which experienced a decrease of 17% that month, while retail levels recorded a smaller decrease of 10.7%.

While the top 10 lenders did better as a collective group than the rest of the industry – dropping by 11.1% compared with the industry’s 14.1% – some lenders maintained very strong performances according to the data. Among the most-improved lenders, HighTechLending saw an endorsement increase of 38.2% to 47 loans, while Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation continued a strong streak from February by rising 31.3% to 197 loans.

Finance of America Reverse (FAR) also recorded a third consecutive 12-month high according to RMI, rising 21.8% to 586 loans.

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The fact that two of the top 10 lenders in the industry have shown such positive levels of performance over the past couple months is an encouraging sign, according to John Lunde, president of RMI.

“Keeping it simple, I’d say the two great stories here are Fairway and FAR both showing several consecutive months of growth in endorsements here,” Lunde tells RMD in an email.

Although the overall percentage figure is nearly identical to RMI’s previous March HECM Lenders report, Lunde previously detailed for RMD that the HECM Originators report is useful in seeing the splits in and health of the retail versus wholesale channels, which helps to illustrate how lenders are doing from a more individualized and channel-specific perspective.

Read the HECM Originators report at RMI for specific breakdowns and more regional performance data.

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  • Please notice how the primary volume interest in reverse mortgages has returned to HECMs. Will there be a pronounced return to proprietary reverse mortgage volume? The attention of the industry is quite fickle as shown in 2008 versus late 2006 and almost all of 2007.

    The RMI report is very good and should be complimented on its content; however, recently it has shied away from topics like 1) comparing the number of work days in one month versus the other, 2) the workflow patterns for endorsing closed HECMs, 3) or the patterns of how lenders send in the files of unendorsed but closed HECMs for endorsement purposes. When lenders send in a batch of closed HECMs for endorsement at the tailend of a month near the start of a weekend, full processing of those HECMs may not be possible until the first part of the following month.

    The fact remains that a month like March 2020 still is short of 3,000 HECM endorsements. At the end of the first six months of fiscal year 2020 we are just about 3,200 HECM endorsements over the same period for fiscal 2019. We have a long way to go to get back to over 48.000 endorsements as was the case in fiscal 2018.

    While some of us have been speculating as to the reason why the HECM endorsement volume was only 1,601 for all of April 2020, there is no empirical and verifiable evidence indicating that the HECM endorsement volume for May 2020 will be much better even though experience and history indicate it should be.

    • Very good Jim,

      Hard to follow your act these days. You do your home work, hard to come back at you with a counter objection to your statistics!

      Thanks Jim,

      John Smaldone

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