Guaranteed Rate’s reverse mortgage EVP seeks to bolster under-used products, wider industry

Ryan Ogata told RMD that products like HECM for Purchase will be a focus for the company’s expanded reverse mortgage efforts

Ryan Ogata was appointed as Guaranteed Rate’s new reverse mortgage lending EVP last month, and previously told RMD about what he feels is a “market creation” opportunity that could come from expanding the reverse mortgage product’s presence in the company’s product suite.

Company CMO Andrew Pohlmann added that a generally purchase-centric posture by Guaranteed Rate could naturally be applied to its reverse mortgage division going forward.

To get a better understanding of how important under-used products will be alongside the current reverse mortgage landscape, and the company’s wider goals for its bolstered reverse division, RMD discussed these and other issues with Ogata in the Q&A below.

Chris Clow: HECM for Purchase is foreign even to a lot of people who are in the reverse mortgage business. Does Guaranteed Rate plan on trying to expand the ability for people to connect with an H4P loan?

Ryan Ogata: Absolutely, 100%. I was reviewing some statistics on just how large the boomer demographic plays into the existing housing market. The statistic I was looking at was that 39% of all purchase transactions in this climate are being done by that demographic, and talk about just a very relevant product for that segment that I think is being underutilized.

Clow: Late last year, a major industry lender and Ginnie Mae issuer declared bankruptcy, a lot of talent moved to some other companies and their securities portfolio was assumed by Ginnie Mae.

But we’ve also seen the top-level lender in the space merge with a competitor, and people are concerned about liquidity in the reverse mortgage space. How do you assess the business climate for this industry specifically, and how do you hope to make a difference in it?

Ryan Ogata, reverse lending EVP at Guaranteed Rate.
Ryan Ogata

Ogata: We’re at the initial stages of what it is that we’re looking to accomplish. We’re not known as being a big reverse lender,  yet. So a lot of these industry headwinds that you’re describing, frankly, we just don’t currently have that much exposure to them by virtue of the fact that we haven’t been a big player in the space.

So, I look at it as being a very opportune time to enter the business, given everything that’s going on. We want to go in a different direction with the product, but […] it’s going to take us some time to ramp up and have the same volume. That will be a great problem to have, frankly, to navigate these issues that are going to become really relevant for us.

Clow: But that is part of the equation, I assume, is that despite those potential challenges, there’s a determination to press forward.

Ogata: Yes. Again, we’re No. 2 in the forward space and I want to be No. 1 in the reverse space. And I’m very fortunate to be at a company that has a very strong track record of great marketing. There are very talented people throughout the organization, and I have the benefit of leveraging them to help catalyze this project going forward.

Clow: Are you looking at how you’ve made a place for yourselves in forward as a path to carve a place for yourselves in reverse? Or, are you taking a more specialized approach to it? How does that come together?

Ogata: I would say there’s probably multiple approaches that we’re going to be pursuing simultaneously. We, as a forward originator, need to continue to add value to our sales force. They would not remain loyal to us if we got complacent there.

So as I look for opportunities for a traditional forward originator to get to understand the product and add it into their standard arsenal of programs that they offer on a consistent basis, that is part of the equation and what we’re looking to accomplish.

There’s also the repositioning of the product, going away from the “loan of last resort” [and instead putting] it into place as an early part of the larger financial picture. Emphasizing why it makes sense to get this loan even when we don’t need it, [to use] as another bucket of funds to draw on. We’re pursuing multiple directions at the same time.

Clow: How about staffing? Are you okay with where levels are at right now, or are you looking to expand?

Ogata: We are looking to right-size when it makes sense for us. We’re very practical as an organization. It’s not a situation to “build it and they will come.” We want to get some revenue coming in and expand when it makes sense to do so.

Clow: What do you think our audience and the wider reverse mortgage industry should know most about Guaranteed Rate’s expanded entrance into the reverse mortgage business?

Ogata: We do a lot of good in the mortgage space, I think. We hold ourselves to a very high professional standard throughout the industry, and I would expect that same kind of quality attributes to permeate into our ambitions for reverse.

Clow: Is there anything else you’d like to add as a final thought?

Ogata: It’s an exciting space to enter into! I look at coming from the forward space, especially at a company like Guaranteed Rate, and seeing the resources that are available to the forward loan officers that we offer, including the technology.

[It’s clear that] the reverse space has a long way to come to get [to where the forward space is]. I’m really excited to be a leader at a major company that can help push the industry forward, meaning the larger industry and not just our company alone.

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