AAG Expands Operations, Formally Launches Forward Mortgage Business

After months of rumblings, the nation’s largest reverse mortgage lender has officially confirmed its entry into the forward market.

American Advisors Group on Wednesday announced the opening of a new office in Sacramento, Calif., where the company expects to have a team of 70 to 80 forward-only loan officers by the third quarter of 2018.

The goal, according to AAG chief sales officer Paul Fiore, is to capitalize on seniors’ interest in using home equity in retirement — even if some aren’t interested in Home Equity Conversion Mortgages.

“There’s always been a group of clients [for whom] the HECM isn’t the right product, or maybe they don’t have enough equity,” Fiore told RMD. “A refinance could help them — as opposed to going out and securing a forward mortgage from another traditional mortgage lender that doesn’t specialize in seniors.”

The Orange, Calif.-based AAG has been signaling its intention to expand beyond the HECM for some time. Founder and CEO Reza Jahangiri said the company wanted to be “agnostic from a product standpoint” in an August interview with the Orange County Register, and RMD reported on an job posting for a forward mortgage sales position at AAG the following month.

Jahangiri expanded on his interview comments during a panel discussion at the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association’s annual conference in San Francisco in November.

“We don’t want to just be a reverse mortgage company come a year or two years from now,” Jahangiri said.

That job posting was part of a soft opening for AAG’s forward arm, which the company conducted from its existing offices in Orange. Over the course of three months, the company managed to amass several hundred borrowers interested in refinances, Fiore said, prompting the company to go forward with its Sacramento expansion.

By the end of the first quarter, AAG plans to have 30 loan officers working in its new 11,000-square-foot space in California’s capital city, with a distinct separation from its existing HECM operations in Orange. Should a caller express interest in a forward product, Fiore said, the main call center will refer him or her to the forward division.

The company will start out with a standard set of conventional mortgage products, with Federal Housing Administration and Veterans Affairs loans coming later.

So far, AAG doesn’t intend to explicitly advertise its forward offering. The company received nearly a half-million inquiries based on its existing reverse mortgage advertising in 2016, according to a recent Forbes profile. Only 9,000 of those callers eventually went through with obtaining a reverse mortgage, leaving a substantial quantity of potential leads who could have interest in a forward product.

Still, Fiore wouldn’t rule out a forward marketing push sometime in the future.

“Ultimately, AAG is trying to offer a full suite of products,” he said. “It’s part of our strategy to have a full suite of products available. I’d say all options are on the table as we look forward.”

Written by Alex Spanko

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