January’s Reverse Mortgage Endorsement Data Clouded by Government Shutdown

Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) endorsements dipped 5.8 percent to 1,649 loans in the month of January. The recent federal government shutdown, the longest in American history, has obfuscated the data to a point that this endorsement figure likely doesn’t fully relate the whole story.

A few days after the shutdown first began, new endorsements of HECM loans were halted completely by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) due to the lapse in appropriations, which lasted 35 days and affected numerous government operations and federal workers.

“[The shutdown lasted] from December 22-January 27 [so] we have a big gap in activity,” said John Lunde, founder and president of Reverse Mortgage Insight (RMI), in introducing the data in the firm’s January 2019 HECM Lenders report. “The earliest we could hope for a ‘normal’ month of endorsement volume is March and that’s only if the government doesn’t have another shutdown episode.”

The continuing resolution (CR) that ended the recent shutdown expires on February 15, which will require Congress and the White House to either come to a budget agreement, or shut the government down again. A disagreement over appropriations related to security on the southern U.S. border is what led to the appropriations lapse in December, though the president has alluded to alternative options available to him to circumvent a Congressional debate on the issue.

“We’re skeptical of reading too much into the volume this month because of [the shutdown’s] uncertainty,” said John Lunde, president of Reverse Market Insight in an emailed statement to RMD.

Among the top ten lenders listed in this month’s RMI HECM Lenders report, HighTechLending saw a notable 513 percent jump to 49 loans (though RMI notes that it averages out when looking at November/December numbers), Liberty Home Equity Solutions saw a 40.3 percent increase to 101 loans, and AAG saw 12.1 percent growth to 593 loans.

Read the full HECM Lenders report at RMI for specific breakdowns and regional performance data.

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