US Mortgage Corporation on Monday announced the hire of industry veteran Steven Sless as its new national reverse mortgage director, a move that the lender hopes will expand its reach in the space.
The Melville, N.Y.-based US Mortgage has offered reverse mortgages for about the past seven years, but owner and CEO Steven Milner sees an opportunity to expand his company’s reach in the marketplace.
“We’ve been looking for that person who’s willing to travel and spread the gospel about the reverse loan product,” Milner told RMD. “I think it’s a great product for a senior.”
Sless, who most recently worked as a branch director for Huron Valley Financial, has built his career on an in-person approach to explaining the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage to seniors, hosting dinner-based speaking engagements in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.
“We’re looking to take that model and expand that in different regions of the country where we think the proper person would be able to present that,” Sless said.
To that end, the company plans to hire a team of speakers to host senior-focused events in several key regions across the country, including the Florida panhandle, Texas, and Tulsa, Okla. On the internal training side, Sless and US Mortgage will aim to help traditional forward loan officers to view the HECM less as a product of last resort, and more of an additional implement in their loan toolboxes when working with older borrowers.
US Mortgage Corporation currently sits in 58th place on the Reverse Market Insight list of top 100 reverse mortgage lenders, originating 30 loans through the end of May — a 43% increase from this time last year.
Despite that individual gain, overall trends in the HECM space are moving sharply downwards as both lenders and borrowers attempt to sort out the ramifications of the most recent program changes, introduced October 2. Various companies have sought to either ignore the changes in their marketing materials entirely — noting that it doesn’t make sense to tell borrowers about a hypothetically better product that no longer exists — or emphasize that the lower principal limit factors make the HECM safer and allow borrowers to preserve more home equity.
Sless’s strategy will largely revolve around pitching the product as a safe, positive solution for certain borrowers in retirement, with a specific emphasis on educating seniors directly.
“We’re looking for very methodical growth as we expand our reverse program,” Sless said. “I view the changes as an opportunity. I think there’s a lot less competition now than there was last month, and than the month before, and than the month before that.”
Written by Alex Spanko