Last Word: Changing Lives, One at a Time

Written by Michael D. Kent, as originally published in The Reverse Review.

In January of this year, the company I work for, Liberty Home Equity Solutions, hit an important milestone. Since Liberty’s entrance into the reverse mortgage market in 2001, we have funded more than 50,000 HECMs—more importantly, we have changed well over 50,000 lives!

Now, granted that 50,000 loans is not a big number in the great scheme of things where mortgages are concerned, but with this loan product, lives are profoundly changed one person at a time.

I started in this business in 2010 at the invitation of my good friend and mentor, Bob Yeary (the co-founder of RMS). He hooked me by telling me a story about a grandmother named Betty.

Betty lived in Watts, California. She was the sole provider for her three grandchildren. The kids’ father had been killed in a gang-related shooting, and their mother was a drug addict who had simply dropped the kids at Betty’s one day and had not been seen since.

At the time, Bob was giving reverse mortgage seminars. He decided to see what it was like to actually go through the entire process with a borrower. That’s where Betty came in.

Bob met Betty at a seminar and scheduled an appointment to meet with her at her home in Watts. Bob arrived at the appointed time and began the application process with Betty. In his own words, “I was not prepared for how the application process would go, and was speechless when the appointment was over.”

During the application process, Betty made it very clear to Bob why she was getting a reverse mortgage, and said it was very important that he keep her reasons in the front of his mind—as well as in his heart—at all times.

Betty told Bob she was on a fixed income that barely covered her monthly expenses, but she was OK, she was making it work. Now, however, she had her three grandchildren to raise. She said she figured out she needed about $500 or $600 more per month. Betty told Bob this amount of money each month could change these kids’ lives forever. It would mean being able to focus on schoolwork and not need to help out financially. It would mean three good meals a day so they would be healthy and ready to learn. It meant having school supplies and clothes to wear. She told Bob this extra money was for their future, and she was counting on him to see help make this happen.

Bob was determined to make her wish a reality, and was able to get the reverse mortgage loan done. In fact, Betty ended up with a term payment of $800 per month for a period that would see all three of her grandchildren through high school.

I think about Bob and Betty almost every day. The story so moved me six years ago and it still does today. It is the story of how we can and do profoundly change lives. One loan, four lives—that is powerful.

Now, those of you who knew Bob Yeary know he was a great storyteller and salesman. I cannot attest to every detail in this story, but I do know that Betty exists, that Bob arranged a reverse mortgage for her, and that the grandchildren are real.

I am not concerned if Bob’s story is 100 percent accurate because I see it every day. I read countless letters and emails from borrowers who attest to the life-changing power of this product. Every day, I know we are changing lives, making a positive difference in people’s futures. For me, the most moving part of the story is that lives were potentially changed.

Thanks, Bob, for sharing this story. You continue to be an inspiration.

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