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RMF Uses “Unconventional” Message to Reach New Audience

Often featuring celebrity spokesmen who deliver messages geared toward needs-based borrowers, ads for reverse mortgages tend to follow a familiar script. But Reverse Mortgage Funding has taken an “unconventional” approach with its latest campaign, focusing on the reverse mortgage as an alternative to traditional home equity lines of credit. In the process, RMF says it’s tapping into a new group of potential borrowers.

Jean Noble, the Bloomfield, N.J.-based firm’s chief marketing officer, said participants in multiple focus groups and surveys thought that the “no payment feature” of reverse mortgages seemed “too good to be true.”

“We lose credibility because the feature is not relatable to any other financial product,” Noble told RMD.

So RMF began marketing its HECM credit-line products as “FlexReverse,” and introduced a two-minute television advertisement touting the “flexible payment option” in October. In the spot, which airs during a variety of sports, news, and movie programming, an actor portraying a potential borrower calls RMF and asks about the difference between home equity loans and reverse mortgages.

The RMF agent in the ad then says that unlike a home equity loan, HECM credit lines give borrowers “the freedom to pay as much or as little as you wish” — not even mentioning the option for not making any payments at all until the very end of the description. The tagline, both in a graphic and read by an announcer, encourages callers to “take control of your finances.”

The message mirrors what Noble told RMD in November during a discussion about changing industry terminology at the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association’s annual meeting in Chicago.

“That message really resonates with the customer base because they feel like they have flexibility and control,” Noble said in November.

Noble said RMF has gotten a positive response to the ads from consumers so far, noting that the “unconventional” message is attracting borrowers that normally would have opted for a traditional home equity loan.

“By going after this market we feel that we are doing our part to help grow the industry and attract a different type of customer,” Noble said.

Written by Alex Spanko