Lansing, Mich.-based reverse mortgage subservicer Compu-Link Corporation (Celink) has been selected by Fairway Independent Mortgage Corp. to serve as its reverse mortgage subservicer, which will help support Fairway’s ambitions to expand its reverse mortgage division. This is according to an announcement by both companies, and conversations with leaders at both organizations.
Celink will serve as Fairway’s subservicer for newly-originated reverse mortgage loans on an interim servicing basis until Fairway sells and transfers the loans, which is being done in an effort to reduce any potential borrower pain points.
Both companies related to RMD the benefits such a partnership should have for each of their respective businesses, as well as for borrowers. The arrangement is not for a specific period of time, according to representatives of Celink.
Common ground between Celink and Fairway
The partnership has been in the works for quite some time and was catalyzed further by Fairway’s inquiries to Celink according to Ryan LaRose, chief client and industry relations officer at the servicing company.
“Fairway had reached out to Celink several months ago to explore the possibility of us partnering together,” LaRose told RMD. “They went through a very detailed due diligence process of Celink during that time where they got a deeper understanding of our capabilities and what we could do to help them grow their business.”
For Celink, the partnership is geared toward facilitating Fairway’s growth goals in the reverse mortgage space. For Fairway, the partnership comes down to an enhancement of the customer experience.
“Celink leadership understands the nuances of the reverse business,” said Harlan Accola, national reverse mortgage director at Fairway in a statement made alongside the partnership’s announcement. “So, their expertise and background in the industry makes them a perfect choice for us. More importantly, they understand the needs of our clients. Celink is dedicated to providing innovative solutions like their secure online Borrower Portal, making things easier for the consumer.”
LaRose also provided additional detail about the interim basis they will be operating in.
“Fairway currently originates and sells their reverse mortgages on a servicing released basis shortly after closing,” LaRose said. “In this new arrangement, Celink will act as the subservicer directly for Fairway for a 1-2 month period until they ultimately package up and sell loans to the final buyer/owner of the mortgage servicing rights.”
What the Fairway/Celink partnership means for the reverse mortgage industry
One of the things that Celink believes is an important takeaway for this partnership is the fact that Fairway is a multi-channel lender, with a sizable footprint on the traditional mortgage side of the overall mortgage business.
“I think it’s important for the industry to understand that Fairway is a large player on the forward mortgage origination side of the business, that they are investing heavily in expanding their footprint to grow the reverse side of their company,” LaRose said. “They have chosen Celink to be their partner to help them achieve those goals.”
Celink CEO Marion McDougall said that this partnership comes from Fairway’s recognition of the company’s ability in the reverse mortgage servicing space.
“Celink has invested heavily over the past 24 months in improvements surrounding technology, people, and processes and we are pleased that Fairway recognized the best-in-class service that we are able to provide them and their borrowers,” she said in a statement.
For Fairway, the additional investment in reverse mortgages from the larger organization is indicative to Accola of both the confidence in Fairway’s reverse mortgage division, as well as one part of a solution to the reality of services designed to cater specifically to American seniors.
“Our COO, Len Krupinski, [always tells our team] that the senior market is underserved,” Accola told RMD on a call. “And Fairway intends to do the best that we can in servicing that market. We believe that this is such an underserved segment, it’s ridiculous. We want to do something about that, and that’s why we’re moving forward with all of these different steps. [We also want to show] the industry how committed we are. We want to show [people at all levels of the business] that we’re not going halfway, we’re all in.”
Commitment to reverse mortgages
While Accola has never doubted the commitment of the larger Fairway organization to the reverse division, actions like this partnership help to further emphasize that commitment in demonstrable actions, he explains.
“They’re really putting their money and time [into this],” Accola said. “They’re not just giving lip service to it. This involves servicing, closing, funding and underwriting. We were sitting on a Zoom call for months, with 30-40 people with everybody from legal, to compliance, to funding, to closing to I.T. to say ‘how can we integrate this into our systems?’ That’s gratifying to see in an organization this size that [shows] everybody wants to learn about this.”
Those conversations, Accola says, also led more people throughout the company to look closer at the product category.
“Interestingly enough, out of that group, some people decided to do their own reverse, or that their parents should do a reverse,” Accola said. “The involvement at Fairway is a lot deeper than what a lot of people think from the outside.”
According to Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) endorsement data compiled by Reverse Market Insight (RMI), Fairway is currently the number eight lender in the industry, recording 1,721 endorsements over the 12-month period ending in January, 2022.
In April 2021, Celink announced the launch of its online reverse mortgage servicing portfolio for borrowers, and applauded the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for introducing new protections for non-borrowing spouses (NBS) the following month.