California-based reverse mortgage lender Ennkar will officially enter the wholesale reverse mortgage channel by the end of the week, hiring industry veteran Josh Moran to help lead its efforts and describing a focus on technology to help differentiate itself from competitors.
Even though the business is challenged by a new level of volatility in the broader economy, Ennkar Co-founder and Branch Manager Omar Ennabe describes for RMD that now is the right time for the company to get involved. This is according to an interview with Ennabe and Moran conducted by RMD.
‘First gear’ for wholesale, bringing Moran aboard
Ennkar expects to be completely online for wholesale business by October 7, and described its positioning as being in “first gear” to ramp up its new wholesale division. When asked what the company means by describing it that way, Moran says that this kind of business is simply not something that will fully materialize overnight.
“You don’t just dive into wholesale and expect to get 100 loans a month and funding right off the bat,” Moran says. “It’s always a much slower process — especially in the reverse world — and things tend to go at a much more reasonable pace.”
This month marks Moran’s 15th year on the wholesale side of the reverse mortgage business, and he recalls being introduced to Ennkar as a client in the past few years. That relationship was a positive one, and after leaving his prior company to take time with his family, Ennabe reached out to Moran to touch on the possibility of working in a wholesale division at Ennkar.
“Omar said he was going to plant the seed in my brain, and that he knew I would probably have a lot of companies calling on me to try to bring me on board because of my 15 years worth of relationships, experience and knowledge in this industry,” Moran says. “He planted a great seed, and we spoke on a biweekly basis during my sabbatical, if you will.”
Moran has also received positive reviews about Ennkar from former colleagues that landed there, which helped him make the decision to move there himself, he says. That prior industry experience can also help to mold Ennkar’s wholesale presence based on what Moran sees as priorities for a streamlined experience, he explains.
Differentiation through tech
Jumping into the wholesale side of the reverse mortgage business could be a daunting prospect, especially on the competitive side considering the presence of larger reverse mortgage lenders in the space. To make itself stand out, Ennkar says it will deploy a tech platform for loan processing that is largely customized and will, ideally, cut down on turn times.
“One of the things that Ennkar has that’ll be completely outside the picture for the brokers and the loan originators is the system that Ennkar uses for managing the workflows and the processing of the file,” Moran says. “And, the underwriting of the file is completely separate from the other [LOS] systems that are out there. I’ve seen it in action. It is filled with efficiencies and so much visibility. Things just don’t slip through the cracks.”
Ennabe elaborated, explaining that Ennkar has customized an interface using cloud-based work management platform Monday.com to accomplish its loan processing goals.
“There are so many people involved in the loan process nowadays,” Ennabe says. “You have the originator, an assistant, a junior and a senior processor, an underwriter, a junior underwriter, a funder, a closer or a title agent and an escrow officer. There’s just so many people involved, and trying to coordinate if you want to get something done, or if you want to see what’s happening on your file, is very difficult to see and wait for a response from one person.”
Building out an app inside the platform, Ennkar partners and loan officers will be able to check on the progress of a file at different levels in real-time, Ennabe says.
“You can check exactly when the last time was that the junior processor worked on a file, and you can see exactly what she worked on,” Ennabe says. “And you can see exactly when the appraisal was ordered or when the title report came in. It’s live, in real-time and happens simultaneously while other people are working on it. So, I think that platform has helped us a lot on the retail side. With Josh coming onboard to help us move into wholesale, it’s certainly something we want to open up to our partners.”
First steps, broader goals
Moran came onboard to help fill out Ennkar’s wholesale division within the last few weeks, but work is progressing at a brisk pace, he says. One of the first ways that Ennkar is rolling out its wholesale division will be at the upcoming National Association of Mortgage Brokers (NAMB) Annual conference happening this weekend in Las Vegas.
“We’re going to be ready to start taking broker applications and submissions after the NAMB conference,” Moran says. “Part of the process was getting our broker approval system set up, so that we can be assured that we’re working with quality partners. The other process is getting all of the origination systems in line with us to have the ability to open up that wholesale channel.”
Moran and Ennabe explain that current industry-normal LOS systems will work with Ennkar’s programs, and the company is currently looking at ways it can more broadly integrate the file management platform from Monday.com into existing reverse mortgage LOS systems.
“We’ve been working with the origination system partners out there, as well as the convergence process, and taking what is already a very successful retail platform and workflow. And then, we’ll make some minor tweaks to it so that it opens up to the wholesale partners.”
There is not currently a way for the Monday.com platform to work seamlessly with existing reverse mortgage LOS systems, but that is certainly on a list of “to-dos” according to Ennabe. That could also include opening up viewing of a file’s processes to consumers themselves at some point, he says.
“I think one of our strategic decisions on how to target people to get into reverse mortgages is by doing a little bit more of a ‘white glove service,’ a little bit more hand-holding,” he says. “We’re certainly going after people that are not in the business currently. We’d love to take people that have more volume also, but I think people are going to fall in love with the way we do loans and the way we update people in the loan process.”
Earlier this year, Ennkar gained its direct endorsement (DE) authority from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
“Now that Ennkar is DE approved, we are eager to start bringing on wholesale accounts in the not too distant future,” Business Operations Manager Amy Golomb told RMD in April. “Ennkar believes that our unique approach to the process will be a true game changer for brokers looking to do reverse loans. Ennkar and our proprietary tech will be the best resource for non-reverse brokers looking to get into the space.”
According to reverse mortgage endorsement data compiled by Reverse Market Insight (RMI), Ennkar is the 10th largest reverse mortgage lender in the country, recording 1,209 loans in the 12-month period ending in July 2022.