PRMG’s Ellen Skaggs on new reverse mortgage market opportunities

Since taking the lead of the company’s reverse mortgage division, Ellen Skaggs says there are a lot of opportunities that will put her experience to work

Earlier this month, Paramount Residential Mortgage Group, Inc. (PRMG) announced that it had appointed reverse mortgage industry veteran Ellen Skaggs as its new division manager for the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) business.

A 38-year veteran of the mortgage industry, Skaggs has spent the last 16 years focused exclusively on reverse mortgages, with the past eight years leading the reverse mortgage efforts at New American Funding.

Chris Sorensen, SVP and director of national retail production at PRMG, said at the time that Skagg’s hiring would position the company to move further into the reverse mortgage business. RMD spoke with Skaggs to get a better idea of what her new role will encompass and where she sees the business going.

Moving to PRMG, current market opportunities

When asked about why she made the move to PRMG, Skaggs said New American Funding sought to take its reverse mortgage division in a new direction at a time when the opportunity to move to the new company presented itself. In turn, she sees this as a chance to increase her involvement in the reverse mortgage space.

“This was a great opportunity to increase not only my footprint but PRMG’s footprint in the reverse mortgage industry,” Skaggs said. “They had a whole different model than I had at my prior company. So, I was able to expand on that, and we’ve been able to hire more loan officers and do some training [for those active in] the forward world.”

Ellen Skaggs, head of the reverse mortgage division at PRMG.
Ellen Skaggs

Other lenders may have a strict divide between forward and reverse mortgage loan officers, but forward loan officers are able to add reverse into their product mix with ease at PRMG. That’s one opportunity Skaggs has identified for the reverse product at the new company.

“PRMG’s forward loan officers can do both types of loans,” she said. “And they also have a system where they can refer it into a team that works here in the office. [The loan is then managed] in conjunction with the existing reverse mortgage team and the forward team. They also have people that are strictly self-sourced reverse loan officers all over the country, licensed in 49 states.”

Still, the biggest benefit is support from PRMG’s management, she said.

“I have 100% support from the owner and from the corporate management,” Skaggs said. “They are in here and driven to make sure this works.”

Reverse business enthusiasm

When asked about PRMG’s newfound enthusiasm for the reverse mortgage business, Skaggs said it actually isn’t that new. The questions primarily revolved around scaling the company’s reverse mortgage efforts, she said.

“Through a series of events, they were introduced to me,” she said. “And when we met, we all just kind of clicked. And because I have such a passion for protecting the seniors and protecting the company, they saw that [those feelings] came across. I also saw in them the same enthusiasm to get this done right and to proceed.”

PRMG has since joined the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA). The company has also reconstructed who its investors are and maintains a positive working relationship with them, Skaggs said.

While it’s early into the new arrangement, PRMG has supported the division’s expansion by hiring at least eight new reverse mortgage loan officers, Skaggs said. The company will also offer a couple variations of private-label reverse mortgage products, Skaggs said, and are looking to add more.

First priorities

Skaggs focused on one word when discussing her initial priorities: hiring.

“Hiring and hiring,” she said. “I think we’ve taken on seven new loan officers just in the last seven days, and I think we’ll create probably another avenue for 10 or 15 more to come on board in areas that we already do huge volumes of forward business. But, we want to cover those territories that haven’t been exposed to reverse.”

Skaggs also sees the reverse mortgage enthusiasm expressed by company leaders in other ways, including in all-hands meetings.

“Every month we have a sales meeting where everybody in the company is on that,” she said. “There, they plug reverse. They plug our team, they plug me, and we have a management training [program] where all new hires are brought in to meet all the department heads. I’m involved in that. It’s a whole other level of exposure that reminds these forward loan officers, who are out there on a daily basis, that they can either do [a reverse mortgage] themselves or they can refer it to other loan officers here.”

Skaggs said the company has goals to expand the reverse mortgage division across the country, which will be easier to accomplish now that her team is onboarded and in place.

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