In recent years, reverse mortgage borrowers have been dominated by both the Silent Generation and Baby Boomers, who were born between roughly 1928 and 1964. Starting last year, the oldest members of Generation X also began to qualify for proprietary reverse mortgage products that have a minimum age requirement of 55, and many will begin qualifying for home equity conversion mortgages (HECMs) within the next five years.
For a product that is designed to serve people aged 62 and older, the reverse mortgage space has been slow to incorporate innovative technology. Still, there has been an uptick in older Americans incorporating technology into their personal finances, from utilizing online banking to checking balances and paying for credit card bills and mortgages.
In an effort to meet the needs of this new generation of borrowers, reverse mortgage lenders are rolling out a number of new technology tools. Lenders like American Advisors Group (AAG) and Longbridge Financial have rolled out online portals and mobile applications to make draw requests, address servicing-related issues and more.
Many in the reverse mortgage industry say that seniors are quicker to adapt to new technologies than most people may think, but there can still be challenges that persist.
Sound Generations, a 60-year-old Seattle-based senior services organization, recently expounded on the challenges and benefits that come with teaching seniors how to use daily technology in a recent article published in The Seattle Times.
According to the article, seniors who are given help with technology report that they are participate in more technological components of daily life, including online banking, video conferencing services and online mortgage services. These types of tools have become a critical part of engaging with broader society, which can have an impact on seniors’ sense of camaraderie with their peers and others.
“Technology has continued to become more critical to engage with other people. But many seniors never learned how to use the new tools, and can feel left behind by a fast-changing world,” the article states.
Reverse mortgage lenders now hope to bridge that gap with technical innovations while continuing to offer the personal touch necessary to serve the senior community.
“Our goal is to match the technology with the customer,” Patty Wills, reverse mortgage division co-leader at Open Mortgage, told RMD in 2021. “A complicated program that few can use effectively is really not useful. We need something that can provide something clear to our borrower customers, and something that even [a less sophisticated user] can employ intuitively in a way that can work for them.”