Written by John LaRose, as originally published in The Reverse Review.

The reverse mortgage landscape has been radically altered this past year. In the midst of various company exits and entrances, one facet of the reverse mortgage experience has remained constant and critical: Every loan requires specialized servicing.

Every great reverse mortgage servicer’s business will stand on a foundation with these supports:

* Reverse mortgages are taken for unique reasons and many borrowers have celebrated this loan product as a life-saving solution.

* Borrower confidence comes from being serviced by a team led by ethics and totally committed to borrower satisfaction and safety.

Two servicing stories from the Celink borrower care department demonstrate the powerful impact of personal reverse mortgage servicing.

We’ll call our first borrower Smith. When Smith lost his wife he became depressed and developed a hoarding disorder, not an uncommon response to grief. The living space in Smith’s home had been reduced to paths between the kitchen, bath and bedroom, and to the front door to retrieve mail. He dragged his feet on making the required repairs for his reverse mortgage­—not because he was unwilling, but because he simply didn’t know how or where to begin. One of our associates took him under her wing and issued this challenge: “I will clean my garage and send you pictures of its progress if you’ll commit to working on your kitchen.” As they finished work on these rooms, she challenged him with another room. After three subsequent inspections and many conversations, Celink received a “100% Complete” repair inspection report. We sent a “Congratulations!” card to Smith, signed by the entire repair administration department.

Smith said, “My reverse mortgage and a friendly, concerned borrower care associate changed my life.” He is grateful for an uncluttered home and the reverse mortgage that prompted some major life changes. On a final note, the primary associate on his loan suggested he seek out counseling services or a support group. He took her up on both suggestions and was diagnosed with severe depression. He received treatment, and now he’s dating again.

This second story is about someone I’ll refer to as Jones. Jones would call us every time he sent a request for funds just to make sure we received it. Over time he came to know our associates’ voices and names, and he was known by his number and voice as well. Our associate asked him if he was having some fun with all his money and he replied, “I am dying. I have smoked all my life and now I am paying for it. The reason I got this reverse mortgage is because I wanted to stay in my home and I didn’t want my family members to watch me suffer. The money is used for medication and caregivers.”

The last time he spoke with us, he said he would be sending a request for money to pay for his funeral. The next call we received was from his brother, who called to notify us that Jones had passed. Jones’ brother told our associate that he spoke very highly of his reverse mortgage and all the concern we had shown. Before Jones died, he connected with one of

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our associates who smoked, and begged her to quit. She did, so a reverse mortgage empowered a borrower in his suffering, and very well may have saved our associate’s life.

These are challenging times for our nation and our industry. It’s always tempting to commoditize the reverse mortgage product, or a servicer’s function, but to do so would be a dismissal of their many tangible and life-giving qualities.