While the reverse mortgage industry has historically been resilient, the recent challenges posed to it — like the consolidation or exit of major lenders and current liquidity issues — could have an impact on front-line loan originators who distribute the product to qualified borrowers.
That’s why industry trainers are reminding industry professionals of the options available to them to reach new borrowers. Last week, Jim McMinn of Longbridge Financial, Jud Lyman of Liberty Reverse Mortgage and Sue Haviland of Finance of America Reverse (FAR) presented at the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA) Western Regional Meeting and outlined why these current challenges are nothing new.
During the presentation, McMinn reminded the audience that the industry has been on a trajectory of change for the past several years.
“We’ve seen the different changes,” he said. “Whether it’s intentional changes that are designed for the longevity of the program, such as principal limit factor changes and MIP adjustments, or possibly we have changes that happen because of borrowers’ security or safety, such as non-borrowing spouse protection, financial assessment and first-year fund limitations.”
However, the changes related to market conditions — such as higher rates — are not as easy to get a handle on, but that doesn’t diminish the path forward for loan originators, McMinn said.
Education is key
“Well-rounded, successful reverse mortgage loan officers regularly take advantage of the training that’s offered [throughout the industry],” McMinn said. “Knowing the ins and outs of the reverse mortgage business and industry gives you a competitive advantage, [and helps you to] set yourself apart.”
Lyman said the reverse mortgage profession might assume that they are more aware of changes to the business than they actually are. In that respect, it’s important for a loan originator to take time to continue their education.
“It takes longer than you think it’s going to take,” Lyman said. “Let it take its course. It’s going to take time for you to really, fully understand and know all the different wrinkles. There are so many ins and outs with this program, so just give yourself the time and don’t assume that you know everything just because you feel like you know everything.”
At times, assumptions about regulations can take on a life of their own, especially when heard often enough, McMinn said. That makes continuing education especially important.
Haviland noted that it’s also important to be a “student of the game.”
“If you think about it, someone who is truly competent in their profession, they’re always learning,” Haviland said. “They’re always studying. One of my favorite hashtags is ‘#AlwaysBeLearning. Be a student of the product, of our industry, and know what’s going on. I just think that that helps us all.”
A well-practiced elevator pitch
Depending on the type of client, an “elevator pitch” that offers most critical details about a reverse mortgage can be an essential tool, the trainers said.
Having a well-practiced pitch, even on specific subject matters, could be beneficial for projecting a sense of authority, Haviland said.
“I always had a few sentences about every document in the application package,” she said. “I had it memorized, and could say it in a way that the borrower could understand it to make sure they got that important information.”
She would even walk around her house practicing the speech.
“I had two teenagers so nobody was listening to anything I said anyway,” she said. “But I always did that, and I did it until I knew it and it was second nature. I just think that’s where practice comes in, un things like this where we need to be on top of our game and really know what we’re talking about.”
That can also be important to learn from other people.
For Lyman, “game film” is not something he can observe with the reverse mortgage sales process. But when he has conversations with his peers, he makes a mental note to add the details to his knowledge base.
“When I hear other people trying to pick up those little tidbits, I add that to my knowledge base,” he said. “I add that to my presentation. That’s how I’ve tried to grow throughout the years and how those are some of the messages that we use to help our individuals grow at our company.”