‘Understanding Reverse’ 2021 Update Aims to Ease Reverse Mortgage Education

The latest edition of reverse mortgage educational reference book Understanding Reverse has been published, marking the seventh consecutive version and featuring updates shaped by new and evolving realities of the reverse mortgage product category.

The latest version of the book includes approximately 70 changes touching on topics including the updated Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) lending limit, an entirely new chapter related to income requirements and updated language reflecting a broader range of rate indices.

One of the other big changes coming to the 2021 edition of the book is some greater level of physical customization to the copies themselves, which can further allow for a reverse mortgage loan officer or other advisor to include their contact information with a copy of the book they send out for promotional or informational purposes. This is according to Dan Hultquist, reverse mortgage educator and author of the book.

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Physical format changes

“Copies ordered through the understandingreverse.com website will feature a back cover designed to promote the lender, instructor, referral partner, or loan originator who is providing the book,” Hultquist tells RMD. “My bio has been removed to make room for a business card sleeve.”

Over the course of 2020, sales for the prior edition of the book had increased, Hultquist says. The reason for that increase is a little hard to determine, but could be indicative of heightened interest in the product category, he says.

“We saw an uptick in book orders this year. It is unclear whether the increase was because of consumer need, or if the pandemic made books and resource guides safer than face-to-face meetings,” he says. “Nevertheless, we continue to get great feedback regarding the multiple uses of the books.”

Content updates

In terms of the book’s updated content to reflect the current industry realities, making such updates often came down to both granular details as well as broader concepts, he says. This was especially apparent when discussing interest rates.

“While there weren’t many regulatory changes needed, references related to rates and rate indices had to be updated,” he says. “Instead of referring to ‘the LIBOR index,’ we now use more general language like ‘the movements of a published index.’ In this way, the reader won’t be confused by CMT-based products, or even SOFR rates in the future.”

Actual rates themselves are also notably different from those published in the 2020 edition, that proved to be a bit of a balancing act, he says.

“While I don’t want to use examples that reflect historically-low rates, I also don’t want to use a 5% expected interest rate that may have less attractive principal limits than are currently available,” he says. “We updated the HECM limit to $822,375, and changed the language related to adjustable rate caps. In addition, we added a new chapter titled, ‘What are the Income Requirements?’ which was sorely needed.”

The future, new resource guides

Even with the 2021 edition now having been published and further refined, there’s already an eye towards the future, and Hultquist says that the best way to meet the industry’s educational needs is by having a dialogue with the people who work in it.

“If anyone has suggestions about how a concept can be better explained, please reach out to me and I will note the changes for next year’s edition,” he says. “Furthermore, I’d love for the industry to let me know if there are any additional resources they need. What printed pieces are needed to facilitate a better understanding of the products we offer?”

Additional publications have also been made available to drill a bit deeper into other, more specific reverse-relevant topics, Hultquist says.

“In the 2nd quarter of 2020, we did a soft launch of a series of three smaller books that include a ‘Homeowner Guide,’ a ‘Financial Planning Guide,’ and a ‘Home Buying Guide,’” he says. “These resources are tailored to different audiences and answer 20 relevant questions in simple terms. They are educational marketing pieces that strip out unnecessary regulatory language and highlight just what the specific audience needs to know.”

One lender noted that giving out copies to as many as 100 referral partners would be a worthwhile investment even if only one lead was generated, Hultquist says.

Last year, the 2020 edition of Understanding Reverse became the first reverse mortgage title to appear on Amazon’s Audible audiobook platform. Visit the Understanding Reverse website for more information on the 2021 edition of the main book, and the resource guides.

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