Jarred Talmadge is a relatively recent addition to the corps of reverse mortgage professionals, having joined the business in 2019 and becoming well-acquainted with the business most especially during the tumult of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. During that time, he has become a full-throated industry and product advocate and has ascended to the position of western sales manager at Simple Reverse Lending, the reverse mortgage division of Addison, Tex.-based Click n’ Close, Inc. which was formerly known as Mid America Mortgage.
To discuss some of the current business realities and the approaches the company has taken to business in the current environment and how some of the considerations for selling Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECMs) may have changed recently, RMD recently sat down with Talmadge for an episode of The RMD Podcast.
The current business climate
While the reverse mortgage industry is going through something of a transition due to the dissipation of a boom in HECM-to-HECM (H2H) refinance transactions, Talmadge — who is based in Greenwood Village, Colo. — feels like business is moving in the right direction for he and his company.
“I feel like we’re finally picking up momentum,” he said. “We’re finally seeing all of the work that we’ve been putting in for the last six or eight months really come to fruition now, but it’s a combination of getting out there and educating the public and potential referral partners. And then you combine that with the media, you combine that with the book, and all of a sudden we’re in that rare position of zigging when everybody else is zagging, because we’re growing right now.”
During the pandemic, Talmadge turned the writing of a reverse mortgage book into something of a project he could focus on while hunkering down in the middle of the most stringent stay-at-home orders, and that venture recently turned into the publication of a second book focused specifically on educating reticent adult children about reverse mortgages.
Still, Talmadge believes that Simple Reverse’s focus has led to positive momentum.
“We actually don’t show any signs that we’re going to stop,” he says. “And so, it’s a unique position to be in, especially with everybody else having the struggles that they’re having.”
Data bears out Talmadge’s observations. According to July HECM endorsement data compiled by Reverse Market Insight (RMI), Click n’ Close (still listed under its Mid America Mortgage banner) stands as the 14th largest reverse mortgage lender in the country with 469 loans in 2022 between January 1 and July 31, which is nearly double its full-year 2021 volume of 236 loans. Market share has grown by nearly half in that same period, to 1.2% of the total industry.
The current messaging
When it comes to the most efficient messaging to discuss the product category with clients, Talmadge says that it is easy to lean into misperceptions about reverse mortgages since they tend to be so pervasive in the minds of prospective borrowers and their families.
“We always get the bad rap for [the negative press], except that it’s not our fault,” Talmadge says. “I have to say, taking the time to actually explain to somebody and explain that if you’re going to live in your house, you’re going to have to pay your taxes [and] insure the house anyway. And you’re going to have to keep it up. This is not any earth-shattering [information].”
Reinforcing that these obligations would exist whether a reverse mortgage is sought or not can be a big difference-maker with certain clients who have a focus on stories regarding foreclosures that result in displacements of seniors, since those foreclosures can be caused by a lapse in making required tax and insurance payments or in keeping up with necessary maintenance, he says.
“When the big media companies start showing the reverse mortgage, we’re always the bad guys,” he says. “And the truth is I’ve spent most of the last three years trying to explain to customers and referral partners that we didn’t put grandma in that situation to start with. We simply provided her with another option.”
The ‘1%’ that leads to possibility
Once again, as is often the case for reverse mortgage professionals seeking to make connections with borrowers or members of their families, it comes down to an open and educational conversation that directly challenges preconceived notions about the product category, Talmadge says.
“What I’ve found is when you can sit down with somebody one on one [to explain] that this is what the problem is and this is why it’s misunderstood, then they start to open up and [entertain the notion that] maybe we don’t really know as much as we think we do,” he says. And when you start having that conversation, you start getting them to just turn that dial a little bit.”
Going into a conversation with a prospective client or referral partner with the intention of completely changing their mind is unproductive, Talmadge says. Focusing on a small fraction of misconception is where the most success can be had, he explains.
“I want to change that 1% [of their mind] that opens the door for possibility,” he says. “And when that possibility exists, then you could go ahead and go forward. The education piece just hasn’t been there. And so, when I realized that the education piece wasn’t there, I decided to write it, basically.”
Look for more from the conversation with Talmadge regarding the creation of a reverse mortgage book on RMD soon, or listen to the full discussion now on The RMD Podcast.