Assistant Secretary for Housing and Federal Housing Commissioner Julia Gordon will deliver a keynote address at this year’s National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA) Annual Meeting and Expo, the first national in-person reverse mortgage industry conference since November 2019.
Gordon was sworn into her role as Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Commissioner this past summer after a protracted confirmation process complicated by a period of pronounced political polarization, particularly in comparison with other recently-confirmed FHA Commissioners at previous administrations.
During the Trump administration, Gordon’s immediate predecessor Dana Wade was confirmed by a vote of 57-40 while Brian Montgomery’s second time in the role was confirmed by a vote of 74-23. During the Obama administration, Carol Galante was confirmed to the post by a vote of 69-24, while her predecessor David Stevens was confirmed via unanimous consent according to the official record of the U.S. Senate.
Gordon believes in the ability of the HECM program to provide a time-tested method for seniors to age in place. In an exclusive interview with RMD, Gordon explained how a wide variety of new and emerging products, particularly in the fintech space, are simply untested and untried when compared to the time that the FHA-sponsored reverse mortgage program has been active and continuously refined at the policy level.
“The FHA HECM program is heavily-regulated [and is one that] those of us at FHA ourselves are keeping a very close eye on, but lenders and consumer groups also keep a close eye on it,” Gordon told RMD in August. “[There are] lots of built-in protections right now, and for borrowers who are obtaining the product for the right purposes, it can be a very, very powerful move.”
In a previous part of the interview, Gordon also alluded to stronger performance for the HECM book of business inside the Mutual Mortgage Insurance (MMI) Fund, including a potential question about whether or not the HECM book should remain where it is in perpetuity.
“HECM performance is still strong,” she told RMD. “Of course, we’ll have to wait for November to tell you the results of this year’s Annual Report to Congress. But right now, HECM performance remains strong. I do think there are legitimate questions about combining the forward program and the HECM program inside the MMI Fund.”
Last year, the FHA Annual Report to Congress was published on November 15 and revealed that the HECM portfolio had hit positive territory for the first time since 2015. The NRMLA Annual Meeting, which takes place this year on November 1-3 in Atlanta, Ga., will come at a unique time for the reverse mortgage industry and the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) program.
Between the last national conference in 2019 and the forthcoming one in November, both events likely serve as bookends to a period of heightened reverse mortgage industry activity and volume fueled by low rates and a large influx of HECM-to-HECM (H2H) refinances. Rates have now risen precipitously and the so-called H2H “refi boom” appears to have dried up, according to industry analysts. Now, the focus must shift to prioritizing new-to-reverse customers, and executing in an environment of heightened proprietary product interest, they say.
Gordon follows in the steps of predecessors from both major political parties, including Brian Montgomery and Dave Stevens, in addressing the reverse mortgage industry at the event.
RMD will have a more fully-featured preview of the NRMLA event in the near future, and will be in attendance at the event itself.