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Funds and Applications Fall, But Reverse Mortgage Counseling Agencies Rise

Housing counseling agencies large and small are sticking with reverse mortgage counseling despite the decline in applications from borrowers seen this year, and a decline in funding.

There were 448 Home Equity Conversion Mortgage counseling locations as of this month, according to data compiled by Ibis. That number compares with 416 agencies at the time when housing counseling funds dried up temporarily in November of 2011, and fewer than 400 agencies in late 2010, the Ibis data shows.

As they allocate funding through the end of the current fiscal year, some of the large intermediaries have seen wait times increase for HECM borrowers. Some have also implemented pre-counseling measures to make the process move along as effectively and efficiently as possible once the appointment is scheduled to take place.

But smaller, independent counseling agencies, even those that do not receive Department of Housing and Urban Development funding, are staying in the business of HECM counseling, and some say they are more positioned to meet the needs of borrowers when the larger agencies start to show a slow down.

“It’s hard to get the word out when you are a smaller agency,” says Jeremy Shadrick, president of Tulsa-based QuickCert. “There is concern in the market to be adding agencies to their lists, but it may make sense to have a [smaller agency] because we have the ability to staff according to volume as opposed to other factors. We are able to manage consistent growth and plan for it.”

For QuickCert, the growth has been from the agency’s launch in September to around 1,600 HECM counseling sessions quarterly, Shadrick says. The agency hopes to become a recipient of HUD funding ultimately. Remaining flexible is the strong suit a smaller agency brings, he says.

“It’s a difference in philosophy,” Shadrick says.

Written by Elizabeth Ecker