Written by Marty Bell, as originally published in The Reverse Review.

NY Conference Brings Industry Together
Hundreds of companies with their own paths seemed to come together around innovative ideas to bolster the reverse mortgage business at NRMLA’s Eastern Regional Meeting & Finance and Investor Forum in New York on March 19 and 20.

“I was really impressed with the creative thinking,” said first-time attendee Stephanie Moulton, an Ohio State University public policy professor who is part of a team conducting a new research study funded by a MacArthur Foundation Grant.

The themes that united the 270 industry professionals in attendance included:

- Avid support of HUD’s effort to make the necessary policy changes to ensure the long-term health of the Mortgage Mutual Insurance Fund

-A need for additional research to provide strong and detailed evidence of the value of the product to help overcome our society’s retirement funding gap

-A look at the product through the eyes (and software) of financial advisors to help reverse professionals engage them as advocates

“Has the program stayed on course?” Lorraine Geraci of Urban Financial Group asked while leading a session about the intent and creation of the HECM by the FHA.

The environment in which the program exists has changed since its inception more than 20 years ago, NRMLA President and CEO Peter Bell explained on a panel of industry leaders, so the program has adjusted to meet the changing needs of an evolving society. Originally envisioned primarily as a method to help older seniors in a family-oriented society remain in their homes, reverse mortgages now must also serve the needs of baby boomers whose retirement expectations have been disrupted by the recession and need to view home equity as a planning tool, as well as a much larger population of single people and a significantly longer average life span.

“We need to ask ourselves, what is the ultimate consumption? What is the best possible use and utility for this product?” said Colin Cushman, CEO of Generation Mortgage Company. “And we need to change our sales strategy to reach out to a broader market.”

“The retirement funding gap is trillions,” said Michael Gordon of the burgeoning new member company Longbridge Financial in an interview conducted by reporter Clea Benson of Bloomberg News. “There is no asset other than home equity that can fill that gap.”

During the two days of sessions, Gordon and others called for a better understanding of the people who do not respond to the product and a better understanding of what drives tax and insurance defaults.

“This program is important to more than just the people who work in it,” said Karin Hill,

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who oversees HECM as director of single-family program development at FHA.
“It is a larger issue than just us. It is the key to aging in place, which an overwhelming majority of American seniors want to do.”

There was a general consensus among speakers that the recent moratorium placed on fixed-rate, full-draw loans as a means to limit the stress on the insurance fund was not a case of “the sky falling.”

“Losing the Standard fixed-rate HECM may give us an opportunity to get back to the core of the program,” said Patty Wills of Retirement Life Funding, reiterating a frequently touched-upon theme: We need to focus more on helping seniors obtain long-term solutions to funding longevity rather than short-term fixes for current problems.

Highlights of the sessions included researchers and brothers Barry and Stephen Sacks demonstrating the need for reverse mortgages to be incorporated into the software used by financial planners; a snapshot of a diversifying investor base in HMBS securities offered by Dan Lichtenberg of Bank of America; and a panel of academic researchers moderated by Chris Mayer, chief credit officer and economist at Longbridge Financial, who said, “From an academic perspective, it is easy to see why this product is incredibly important. So how do we get from theory to practice and build the market?”

The Conversation Continues in Irvine
Reverse mortgages do not exist in a vacuum. They are part of a bigger picture that includes:
- Planning the right retirement funding package
- A cabinet department (HUD) with many priorities
- A securitization industry
-The aging-in-place movement

The most effective selling of reverse mortgages is not just about the numbers and the product’s rules and regulations; you need to be able to put the product in context, to paint The Big Picture.

Join your colleagues, government officials, researchers and other distinguished speakers for NRMLA’s Western Regional Meeting, where we will focus on using The Big Picture to attract clients and grow the industry. Plus, attendees can earn CRMP credits and attend extensive networking opportunities.

Visit nrmlaonline.org to register and book your hotel room.

New members
Directors Mortgage, Lake Oswego, Oregon
JTS & Co., Columbus, Missouri
Vintage Lending, Salt Lake City, Utah

New CRMPs
Peggy Whalen, Direct Finance Corp., Norwell, Massachusetts
Daniel Matthews, Direct Finance Corp., Norwell, Massachusetts
George Downey, Harbor Mortgage Solutions, Braintree, Massachusetts

There are now 59 CRMPs. Shouldn’t you join them?

Numbers
Reversemortgage.org, our consumer website that includes member listings, had a record 17,359 unique visitors in March.

Consumer information materials: NRMLA has fulfilled member company orders for 3,700 copies of “Your Roadmap to Reverse Mortgages” and 6,100 copies of “Should Mom and Dad Get a Reverse Mortgage?”

Upcoming Events
NRMLA Western Regional Conference
May 14-15
Hyatt Regency Hotel
Irvine, California

First National Aging in Place Council Conference
June 13-14
Washington, D.C.
Information at ageinplace.org

NRMLA Annual Meeting & Expo
November 4-6
Roosevelt Hotel
New Orleans, Louisiana