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Reverse Mortgage Assistance Program Gains Traction

The initial results of a pilot program aimed at assisting seniors with mortgage services — including reverse mortgage borrowers in danger of foreclosure — indicate a growing use of these resources in areas across the nation.

Launched last year by non-profit organization HOPE NOW, the pilot includes several full-day events in California that offer reverse mortgage borrowers the opportunity to connect with resources that can help with servicing inquiries or other questions about their loans.

At the time of the pilot’s launch, HOPE NOW Executive Director Erik Selk noted the “one-stop-shop” nature of the events as resources for seniors to access answers and services they are seeking — from mortgages to home maintenance solutions. HOPE NOW generally serves as an alliance between counselors, mortgage companies, investors, regulators and other mortgage market participants.

To date, the pilot has been successful with attendance increasing, Selk told attendees of the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association Western Annual Conference last week in Huntington Beach, Calif. In part, it has drawn the participation of reverse mortgage professionals to assist borrowers with their concerns, with Selk encouraging more participation among servicers.

“We are trying to be strategic around state-specific programs [available],” Selk said. “If your servicer is not participating you should ask some hard questions about why they are not participating. …the assistance programs are new for [the industry]. They basically are offering to help cure [the delinquency] and keep that family in the home.”

The events have drawn a variety of seniors seeking services, Selk noted, as well as their family members. The inquiries cover topics including financial distress, mortgage assistance, supplemental assistance, end of draw issues, refinancing, heirs, wellness and more.

The number of attendees expanded between the first two events held as part of the pilot, Selk says. Initially, roughly 20% of the families who attended were inquiring about refinancing, which can’t be addressed by the servicer directly. But the second event’s attendees were more focused on mortgage assistance programs.

“You’re probably serving more than one person,” Selk said. “No one comes at this alone. You are serving more than one constituent. It’s not just one person in one home.”

Written by Elizabeth Ecker