NRMLA Western Conference Recap: HUD, Financial Planners on Reverse Mortgages

From Department of Housing and Urban Development officials to financial planners and new industry participants, close to 200 reverse mortgage professionals gathered last week in Irvine, California for the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association’s Western Regional Meeting.

Some discussion focused on the “reshuffling” of lenders and originators as well as the opportunity recent change has presented, NRMLA shared with RMD. 

“There’s been a reshuffling of the cards and those companies that remain have a new hand to play, a new opportunity,” said NRMLA president and CEO Peter Bell during an opening conference session. 

Karin Hill, representing HUD’s office of single family, shared the department’s current outlook on the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage program. 

“Is the program stabilizing?” asked Hill, Director of Single Family Program Development. “That’s a good question to ask. I think we have been very successful at identifying the problems we need to address on an ongoing basis.”

Hill estimated financial assessment and credit guidelines would be issued for comment in four to six months.

Lenders also heard from financial planning professionals, as well as Barry Sacks, the author of a recent study on reverse mortgages and their use as a retirement planning tool.

“The conventional wisdom has been taking a passive or let’s-wait-and-see approach to using home equity as a retirement planning tool,” said Sacks. “But we think a better approach is an active strategy where you do not wait for negative or poor portfolio results to turn to home equity products.”

Sacks’ research, co-authored by his brother, Stephen, was published in the Journal of Financial Planning in March, sparking interest among industry professionals. But there are still hurdles in working with financial planners, conference panelists said. 

“Many seniors still feel like if you take out a reverse mortgage, you have failed. It’s the last trip to the well” said Pat McClain of Hanson McClain speaking on a conference panel. “But that changes with time. It has taken me as long as five years to get people to come around to considering reverse mortgages. One woman said to me, ‘I would never take a reverse mortgage,’ and I sat there thinking, ‘That’s what you think. I know your numbers.'”

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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