While they would be the first to tell you that they’re far from the largest lender active in the reverse mortgage space, that hasn’t done anything to diminish the ambition of Addison, Tex.-based full-service mortgage lender Mid America Mortgage and its goals for expanding its presence in the space.
On the heels of adding industry veteran Dennis Loxton as its new national sales manager for the company’s reverse mortgage division late last year, Mid America has expanded its ranks yet again to appoint an employee to oversee its reverse mortgage operations on the west coast.
Jarred Talmadge, recently appointed to serve as Mid America’s western reverse mortgage sales manager, recently sat down with RMD to discuss his history in the business, what Mid America hopes to achieve by expanding its presence in reverse mortgages to the national market and how the company will aim to differentiate itself from other, larger lenders in the space.
History in reverse and building a dedicated division
Talmadge has been involved in the traditional mortgage business since the mid-1990s, but became involved in reverse in 2019 when he joined the ranks of American Advisors Group (AAG) as a loan officer. Since then, he has become an adamant product advocate serving in a series of different roles until joining Mid America in October, 2021.
Talmadge and Loxton have a history together having both worked at AAG in the past, and Talmadge credits Loxton with guiding him in the ways of the reverse side of the business during their shared time at AAG.
“Dennis Loxton was my mentor at AAG,” Talmadge says. “It’s really a great thing to be able to be back together again. Dennis is the national sales manager, and he oversees all of Mid America’s [reverse] sales managers.”
In reorienting its reverse mortgage ambition to a more national stage, Talmadge sees the primary way that Mid America will be able to differentiate itself in the space is by leaning on the things the company has always done well, and which it is known for in a more regional sphere of influence: loan processing.
“When I started digging into it, I realized these guys have a really good crack team of processing and operations people that just know their stuff better than anybody,” Talmadge says. “They’re very good at what they do. And so what they had was this great product, they had this great service, but they just didn’t have a direct avenue to deliver that to the public in a way that [they] would be receptive to. Simply put, they didn’t really have boots on the ground. And so, what we did with Dennis and I coming on board, we’re expanding the national footprint.”
Leaning into reverse mortgage processing, turn times
When initially looking into some of the attributes of the company, Talmadge says he was skeptical about some of the team’s claims regarding accelerated turn times but became a believer when he saw them in action, he explains.
“We have a definitive advantage in the market, which is that [Dennis and I] obviously came from a large company,” he said. “The attitude of the large companies is that reverse mortgages take 60-70 days to do. The Mid America team was committed, [telling me they] can do this in 30 days. I was skeptical that they could do it, and yet not only do they deliver it, but they also overperform on that number. And so all of a sudden, I think we’re going to evolve into a national player on this field because our operations are so strong.”
Talmadge sees the relatively smaller size of Mid America as key to this advantage in processing since it allows the lender to be more generally nimble in reacting as quickly as possible to the needs of borrowers, he says.
“I had a deal close today which took 37 days, and that’s with two national holidays and doing a single unit approval on a condo,” he says. “When that all of a sudden becomes the timeframe and to be able to deliver that to the customer, that really [blows them away] because they’re not expecting us to be this fast or productive. I feel like that is the biggest competitive advantage that we’re bringing to the market. We understand that we’re not the biggest, and we don’t have a large footprint. What we do have, though, is that we’re lean and nimble, and we can deliver what we say we can deliver.”
A segmented approach to reverse mortgages, going after new business
While some multi-channel lenders are taking an approach of cross-pollinating their reverse and forward mortgage divisions, Mid America is taking the tact of maintaining specialization between the two product types, Talmadge explains.
“We find that by keeping personnel focused on reverse, it also delivers a more focused experience to the client,” he says. “We’re trying not to get them bogged down in splitting them off and [having] to wear multiple hats. We would rather be really, really good at one thing and be known for being good at that one thing.”
Maintaining that specific focus on reverse, while also looking strategically at how and where the company’s footprint is expanded will be key drivers of its reverse mortgage strategy, he says.
“We’re looking to put reps in different markets, but we’re also looking specifically for people who have been doing this for a while,” he says. “We want them to have that passion for helping seniors, we want them to have that passion for understanding that [cohort]. This is a unique market. It’s not for everybody, but that’s okay.”
While the core business will be focused on Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-sponsored Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECMs), Mid America will offer select proprietary reverse mortgage options including at least one product with a minimum age requirement of 55. However, since the reverse mortgage maximum claim amount (MCA) was recently revised upward to $970,800, the potential for the HECM to serve a majority of the company’s clients is likely, Talmadge says.
The company will also aim to try and focus most of its efforts on finding new business, as opposed to focusing too much on HECM-to-HECM refinances, he says.
“If you’ve been in the mortgage business long enough, you know that at some point, the refi boom is going to end,” he says. “I’ve always been amazed by the fact that people in the mortgage industry, in general, seem to get to amnesia every two or three years. They think [refinancing] is the nature of the market until it’s not. If that’s the case, the way you grow is not by focusing on the refi. Don’t get me wrong, I love refis, they’re great. But the true growth will happen with the first-time reverse people, those who are just coming in.”
According to reverse mortgage endorsement data compiled by Reverse Market Insight (RMI), Mid America Mortgage is the 15th largest reverse mortgage lender in the country with 516 loans in 2021, a 225% change from 2020 volume.