FAR parent updates investors on AAG integration, business performance

The “investor update” was noted in an SEC filing and offers new information on several facets of Finance of America’s reverse mortgage business

Finance of America Companies (FOA), parent company of industry-leading reverse mortgage lender Finance of America Reverse (FAR), released a new “investor update” this week to update shareholders and other stakeholders on different elements of its reverse mortgage business including its strategic initiatives, business model and an update on its integration of American Advisors Group (AAG).

The company also provides commentary for its fourth quarter 2023 financial performance, assesses its market advantages and offers an assessment of impacts stemming from changes in Ginnie Mae’s Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM)-backed Securities (HMBS) program.

Business update and market share

The company announced the availability of the update in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). FOA begins the update by listing statistics illustrating the market potential of reverse mortgages, including the amount of home equity held by seniors ($13 trillion based on the Reverse Mortgage Market Index), a majority of seniors’ aging in place preferences and sources of anxiety in retirement.

Citing data from New View Advisors, FOA describes itself as “the largest Ginnie Mae HECM issuer for the last 10 years” when including AAG, with 37% of total 2023 issuance compared to Longbridge Financial (21%), Liberty Reverse Mortgage (16%) and Mutual of Omaha Mortgage (15%).

The company also said it “continues to evaluate new products to reach additional segments of the population facing a retirement gap,” and describes recent reverse mortgage industry consolidation following influential industry changes in 2017 and the 2022 bankruptcy of Reverse Mortgage Funding (RMF).

“As a result, the industry has consolidated from approximately 20 HECM issuers controlling 50% of the market in 2017 to only four today, and FOA’s market share has increased to 37% over that same period with the acquisition of AAG,” the company said.

Last July, the company sold its title insurance business to Essent Group, followed by strategic changes in September including a transition of its offshore-based operations to a team in the Philippines and the sale of “certain operations” of its home improvement lending business to Aqua Finance.

“Following the wind down of its forward mortgage business and sales of non-reverse segments including Lender Services, Commercial Originations and Home Improvement, FOA is focused solely on the reverse mortgage market,” the company said. “The Company has substantially completed its exit from all non-core businesses at the end of Q1’24.”

Reverse mortgage leader and ‘right-sizing,’ future goals

Following its acquisition of AAG in March 2023, the company became the industry’s leading reverse mortgage lender. This resulted in the company taking “aggressive actions to rightsize its originations and back-office headcount to align with continuing operations,” saying it reduced its overall headcount by roughly 30% from its Q2 2023 peak following the acquisition of AAG.

This has resulted in FOA having “less than 1,000 employees” as of the end of 2023, the company said, leaving the organization “well-positioned to evaluate opportunities for further industry consolidation,” the update explained.

The company is also transitioning into what it calls a “de-levered, cash-generation business model,” which it plans to accomplish by “monetizing its existing balance sheet while new originations generate free cash flow and long-term equity value.”

That positive free cash flow it is aiming for will potentially go toward new financing on newly-originated HECM mortgage servicing rights (HMSRs), and wants to reach a point where “incremental financing” on HMSRs create additional liquidity.

FHA, HMBS program changes

The company went into additional detail regarding changes handed down to the HMBS program by Ginnie Mae brought about by the bankruptcy of RMF. Last September, Ginnie Mae announced it would begin allowing the securitization of multiple participations related to a particular HECM in any one issuance month. In January, the government-owned company announced its plans to develop a new reverse mortgage-backed security product in response to industry liquidity challenges.

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) announced a series of several different HECM servicing changes in November 2023 including allowing mortgage servicers to contact borrowers by phone to verify occupancy for the program’s required annual occupancy certification, as well as allowing mortgage servicers to assign a HECM to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) after the servicer funded a cure on delinquent obligations.

FOA noted several impacts on its business stemming from these changes, including increasing the “velocity” of tail securitizations; a reduction in the need for third-party financing; and increased value for the company’s HMSRs.

Ginnie Mae’s potential new HMBS product, referred to by some in the industry as “HMBS 2.0,” has other notable potential for FOA’s reverse mortgage business, the company explained.

“HMBS 2.0 may allow FoA to collapse ~$630 million of securitized buyout [unpaid principal balance (UPB)] and reissue these as [Ginnie Mae] securitizations, improving liquidity and freeing operating capital,” the company said.

In its Q4 2023 earnings report last month, FOA said that it narrowed its quarterly loss to $20 million and posted an overall improvement in its earnings to $164.7 million in fourth-quarter 2023.

The fourth-quarter loss was down from the $25 million in losses posted in Q3 2023, touted its HMBS market share and addressed remaining challenges related to the integration of AAG and two notices it received from the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) about its stock price being out of compliance with continued listing standards.

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