The Reverse Mortgage Counseling Association is in the process of rolling out a new program that aims to connect reverse mortgage borrowers with one another, and assist in promoting the reverse mortgage industry itself. The organization, slated to launch June 1, will bring reverse mortgage borrowers together so they can share experiences, provide data, and help serve the borrowing population.
The program, called the RMCA Senior Membership Program, will give HECM borrowers access to resources and research through communication channels, tools, research and industry feedback. The program is open to new and existing borrowers and encourages current borrowers to connect with new borrowers in building a community of those with reverse mortgages.
“From a counseling standpoint, I think it’s positive in several ways,” said Chuck Stanley, senior vice president of education and community relations for Money Management International. “[It will] help seniors get information on aging in place, because most get a reverse mortgage in order to age in place.” Additionally, “It’s helpful for them to communicate with other borrowers and share their experiences.”
While there is some borrower data collected by the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association and other sources, Stanley said the program will offer objective data that will be helpful from an industry perspective, as well as provide ongoing relationships with seniors.
By becoming members and paying an annual $25 membership fee, borrowers will receive newsletters on reverse mortgages and aging-in-place information. They will also receive a discount drug card from United Networks of America, access to a national non-profit referral service and access to counseling from RMCA members who are national intermediaries for seniors regarding the payment of taxes and insurance.
“This is a particular type of membership with a very laser-focused agenda,” said Mike Wallace, president of East Syracuse-based Upstate Capital. “The services and the support are going to be built to allow the seniors to age in their homes.”
While Wallace is a member of the industry advisory council and has been active in the development of the program, he would like to see his company take an active roll as a lender as well, in offering the first year’s membership dues to borrowers, in order to help gain interest and involvement.
Wallace points to data from the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association as having doing a great service to the industry, and hopes that twice-annual surveys of the Senior Membership Program will provide even more data. Contrary to larger organizations like AARP, he says, the group’s focus will be a strength for the reverse mortgage industry, specifically.
“It’s a very, very specific type of person, and the organization meets a very specific need,” he said.
Another member benefit allows seniors to communicate with other reverse mortgage borrowers through SandboxSeniors, an online service that allows seniors to share stories and interact.
Some lenders have expressed interest in giving the first year of membership as a gift to borrowers, with the idea that they will have a ready network of other HECM borrowers to communicate with. The aim is to build a community around the reverse mortgage product and help to bolster their image and brand.
The Reverse Mortgage Counseling Association is a coalition of reverse mortgage HUD approved counseling agencies and elder care experts.
Learn more about the membership program.
Written by Elizabeth Ecker