Origins: Reverse Mortgages About ‘More Than Just the Deal’

Reverse mortgage originators set themselves apart from their counterparts on the forward side largely because of the inherently more consultative nature of the business, and the fact that senior borrowers need someone who can clearly explain the complexity of the reverse mortgage product to them in ways that help them to see how it might be a beneficial path forward.

Lance Canada

The necessity of that consultative approach became very apparent to Lance Canada, loan officer with Victorian Finance in Durham, N.C., when he was confronted with a difficult situation related to the mental condition of one of his clients. This is just one example of the variety of issues that a reverse mortgage originator may be charged with solving for their senior clients, and Canada takes the high level of trust that comes with that responsibility very seriously.

In the latest edition of “Origins,” our series charting the paths of reverse mortgage participants into the industry, Canada shares this story, and the potential he finds in the reverse mortgage product category to help his senior clients.

How long have you been originating both in general, and in reverse specifically?

I started originating mortgage loans in 1996, and started originating specifically reverse mortgages in 2005.

How did you first learn about the reverse mortgage product, and what led to you to believe that reverse origination was something you could do?

In the early 2000s I also had my Insurance license, and was selling long-term care (LTC) products in the evenings. I encountered many seniors who wanted to purchase LTC policies, but could not afford them. So, I started to research if there was a product that could help senior homeowners to be able to afford the kinds of LTC products that they wanted. This is what led me to the reverse mortgage product.

I investigated the category, and came to appreciate that this is an awesome product. I have always been a believer that any person can do whatever they put their mind to. My parents always told us, “look at the people that are doing what you are doing, if they can do it, so can you.” So when it came to reverse mortgages, I just set my mind to it and started to learn the product.

What would you say was your earliest big test that you found most challenging in your career as an originator?

The shift I had to make in my mind in order to learn a new skill set was the most challenging part of becoming an originator. I knew nothing about mortgages: not about how they worked, and I also did not know very many people that even had one.

What is your most unusual case that you’ve had to deal with in your capacity as an originator, and how did you solve it?

It seems that each case is unique. However, one that comes to mind is a case involving a couple in which the wife suffered from dementia. They were a very educated, community-minded couple that were very well known, and had many accomplishments. I closed my folder and jumped on the back of the ‘elephant’ in the room.

The result was that the husband had to go to court and get court-appointed conservatorship over his wife. We did end up doing the reverse mortgage, and I felt good about the fact that I was able to help them with the most pressing matter of getting their financial situation in order. This business is about more than just the deal, it’s about the people.

What would you classify as your biggest accomplishment in your work as a reverse mortgage originator?

I’ve been blessed with many accomplishments that I have been able to check off my list. One of my biggest was becoming a Certified Reverse Mortgage Professional (CRMP). This designation within the reverse mortgage industry is one that keeps me growing in a focused way.

If you could identify the most unique part of your local reverse mortgage market, what would it be? Is there anything there the industry can learn from?

North Carolina is one of the fastest growing states in terms of retirement. Locally, the HECM for Purchase (H4P) market has been growing, which opens up new relationships in the real estate market. So, finding my niche in the H4P market is my current goal.

As an industry, we can learn that we must keep up with the quick pace of changes. We must get out of our comfort zones, continuing to add to our arsenal of products to present to our prospects.

What do you think is needed for potential borrowers to be more fully educated about home equity release?

There is no magic pill. Just as dripping water will erode a rock, the reverse mortgage industry must keep this product front-and-center for the senior market.

Where do you see the reverse mortgage industry in 5-10 years?

I believe that 5-10 years from now that this industry and product will have arrived. We can’t ignore the obvious point of our aging society. As my old boss would always say, ‘a rising tide lifts all boats.’ The cumulative effect of the industry will position the reverse mortgage product as one that will be among the first considerations in financial planning. How could it not?

What is the industry’s biggest challenge today, and how can it be overcome?

I think that one of the biggest challenges of this industry today is not taking the time to appreciate how far we have come. As the saying goes, ‘a thousand mile journey starts with the first step.’ The reverse mortgage industry has quite a few steps under its belt.

We have maneuvered through a fair number of challenges, and I believe that we will continue to do so. Staying focused, continuously learning, and keeping our dogged determination will help bring the industry to the place where it needs to be. Of course, there are more serious issues that need to be addressed right now, I do not mean to be Pollyanna about it.

However, we are still in the growth stage. So, how we handle the challenges of today will determine what we will be as an industry tomorrow. There is no shortcut.

Complete the sentence: If I could change one thing about the reverse mortgage it would be: ______

Tough question, but I believe that this cake is still half done. Perhaps this is not the time to make drastic changes, or significant changes at all. Let it continue to bake. Let the fruit continue to ripen on the vine. Any changes that are needed will become evident in time. As long as the  industry remains focused on doing the right thing, we will be alright.

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