Written by Roger Beane, as originally published in The Reverse Review.

Knock, knock. Silence. Knock, knock, knock. More silence. Puzzled, the appraiser makes another follow-up phone call to the senior borrower with whom he has scheduled a visit. Still, no answer.

This particular borrower was very eager to obtain a reverse mortgage. It perplexes the appraiser that she would miss the appointment. He contacts the AMC, and they look into the situation and contact the lender. Later, it was discovered that the borrower had slipped and fell and could not get to the door or phone. Thankfully, the appraiser had heard her cries and was there to assist and call for help.

This is just one example of some of the challenges appraisers face when working with a senior borrower. Other hurdles may include confusion with the lending process, difficulty hearing or forgetting scheduled appointments. An effective appraiser must be sensitive to the needs of senior borrowers and work especially hard to accommodate them. It is imperative that your team moves efficiently through the appraisal process in a way that displays the utmost compassion for your senior borrowers. To do so, there are a number of things mortgage professionals must keep in mind in order to perform their work effectively.

First, mortgage professionals must give very clear instructions to the AMC, letting them know they are working with a senior borrower and may consequently run into situations in which the borrower might be confused, hard to reach, feel under the weather, etc. It is important for the appraiser to have patience. In order to comply with HUD guidelines, most lenders use AMCs that have identified appraisers who have been trained to work, or have successfully worked, with seniors in the past. In emotional situations, such as working with a recently widowed borrower, the surviving spouse often needs a sounding board and appreciates someone to guide

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them through the stressful situation with care. If these go-to appraisers are unavailable and the company has to turn to someone new, they must train and condition the appraiser on the protocols and sensitivities of working with a senior borrower.

Second, it is important to be considerate. In situations in which the borrower forgets about an appointment, it is thoughtful to waive the trip fee. Many seniors are in financial straits (foreclosure, medical bills, etc.), creating the need for a reverse mortgage loan in the first place. One way to try to avoid a wasted trip is to make several follow-up reminder phone calls to the senior borrower leading up to the appointment. Bear in mind that many seniors do not have email or voicemail so if possible, try to have a conversation prior to the appointment.

Lastly, a borrower can be confused during the appraisal process and may not remember signing a

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loan application.

An appraiser can work with the lender to have someone the borrower listed on the loan application go over the loan process with them to make sure everything is completely understood. Senior borrowers need reassurance that they are being heard and that their questions are answered. Follow-up can go a long way to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Compassion is the most important element in the reverse mortgage process, not only to make the senior feel comfortable during a stressful situation, but to promote an effective, win-win experience for all involved.