Genworth to Roll Out Reverse Mortgage Financial Assessment in Q1

Genworth Financial Home Equity Access plans to roll out a three-phase financial assessment implementation by the end of the quarter, the company confirmed Friday.

The phased approach is one that has not been fully tested by other lenders. MetLife, the first company to implement new underwriting guidelines following industry guidance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association, later suspended the new policy when other lenders failed to follow suit. Urban Financial Group later announced it was seeking feedback on a draft of a financial assessment for borrowers, but has yet to implement any changes to its underwriting or financial assessment guidelines.

Most lenders agree that some form of financial assessment is needed, but have struggled with the details of such an assessment and the right way to implement it.

“Limited underwriting on property charges is a reasonable solution that should improve the long-term integrity of the HECM Program,” GFHEA president and CEO Pete Engelken told RMD in an email. “Our emphasis when creating the guidelines is to make the new process simple for everyone.”

While GFHEA is mum on the details of its assessment, the company has stated its plans to implement changes in three phases; a process that the company has stated it plans to begin in the first quarter of 2012.

“Our plan is to implement limited underwriting guidelines in three phases,” Engelken said. “Phase 1 will be getting feedback from our customers, such as brokers and correspondent lenders. We will publish guidelines, introduce new calculator technology and ask for comments.”

After the initial phase, GFHEA plans to look to its retail channel and then other channels after testing internally.

“In phase 2 we will test the program in production with our retail channel and make adjustments as appropriate (no wholesale business will be affected during phase 2). In phase 3 we will roll out the guidelines to all business channels,” he said.

GFHEA has not stated a time frame for implementation beyond its Q1 plan.

HUD is working on its own financial assessment, which the Department told RMD in early 2011 will require several months of rule making.

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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