Reverse Mortgage Executive Outlook: How the Business Can Expand and Evolve in 2021

To close out Reverse Mortgage Daily’s industry coverage in 2020, we took a look at the top stories of the year that garnered the highest readership based on our internal data. To begin the new year, we also took a look at four key trends that the reverse mortgage industry should keep an eye out for in 2021.

Now that the new year has arrived and is bringing with it some notable new elements of the industry status quo, we thought we would briefly step aside and let some of the industry’s leading executives and leaders do more of the talking to provide it with their unique perspectives, and what they are looking out for as we dive deeper into the new year.

Last month, RMD solicited the perspectives of senior leadership at many of the major reverse mortgage lenders operating in the space today, with a general prompt so that they did not feel tied down to focusing on a specific topic. We’re presenting their perspectives to you in their own words, with responses only edited for concision.

Changes in the makeup of the reverse mortgage status quo, a necessity for changing internal dynamics and expanding reverse business to normally traditional mortgage domains are some of the key elements that these executives are looking to accomplish in 2021, 

Scott Norman, VP of field retail and director of government relations at Finance of America Reverse (FAR)

Not only is our industry changing on a regular basis, but so are the core concepts around retirement. When you consider the advances we are seeing in technology and science, coupled with a new normal in social norms, retirement today is unrecognizable from where it was even 10 years ago. Over the next decade, the population of those aged 75 and over may grow by 30 million people, and we must be prepared to challenge every belief we have to help create new and innovative ways for them to safely age in place. It’s time for us to start planning around the potential of 100-year lives, and start working backwards into what a proper retirement needs to look like.

Scott Norman

FAR is providing retirement solutions that are in high demand, and I am very optimistic that this demand will persist into 2021 – especially as we continue to innovate and find new ways to help Americans get to work on their retirement.

Additionally, the share of older homeowners with housing debt continues to grow at a pace that is unsustainable. Cost burdens are getting more expensive for older homeowners, and we are seeing a disproportionate number of older adults who have lost their income as a result of the pandemic.

How many of them would benefit to know about the benefits of a reverse mortgage? At FAR, we believe that every person deserves an opportunity to live their best lives in retirement. We’ll continue to invest in education, research and other partnerships so potential customers and their families better understand the benefits of our products. It’s also why we will continue to innovate and expand our suite of proprietary products to address the diverse needs of our customers.

Harlan Accola, national reverse mortgage director at Fairway Independent Mortgage Corp.

At Fairway, our focus is not just about volume — but first — changing lives of the families we serve. We intend to be a major factor in changing the way retirement is done in this country.  Starting with our own branches and our own loan officers, we first want to help more 62+ clients into reverse mortgages instead of forward mortgages.

Harlan Accola

Because we have over 600 offices and over 4,000 loan officers producing over $60 billion in 2020, we are in the unique position to touch a huge number of senior lives and referral partners. Our loan officers work with thousands of real estate professionals and financial advisors.

We believe that before we point fingers at the government or NRMLA or the industry as a whole, we have to work internally at Fairway with our own team of loan officers and support people, and redouble our efforts to educate our referral partners. That is the main thing we have covered in our planning sessions as we closed out 2020.

Joe Langner, president and CEO at ReverseVision

Given the HECM’s unique ability to help consumers overcome the economic strain of a pandemic-driven market, more independent mortgage banks will realize that they will “do well to do good” in 2021. In 2020, many lenders shelved HELOC programs and focused exclusively on fielding a tsunami of refinance volume, leaving homeowners who needed to access their equity behind. With the MBA forecasting that refinance volume will decline by 46% in 2021, independent mortgage banks would benefit to reclaim lost volume with HECM lending.

Joe Langner

In 2021, ReverseVision is poised to help lenders retain the valuable business of senior borrowers with product enhancements that will make it easier to integrate HECMs into the forward lending environment than ever before.

In Q1 we will introduce a calculator API that enables lenders to leverage ReverseVision’s Comparison Calculators directly from their preferred CRM, POS or LOS. Also on the roadmap is an attachments and docs API, which will allow users to add document packages via a single request, significantly reducing the time it takes to attach multiple documents to a loan file. 

ReverseVision already has a rich customer base, which includes 49 of the top-75 independent mortgage banks. We anticipate that as lenders leverage our APIs to create more tightly knit integrations between ReverseVision and their forward systems, even more of the estimated 2.4 million loans to seniors that take out a mortgage every year will be presented with and select a HECM. 

More than ever, senior consumers have increased demand for options that allow them to age in their own homes as COVID-19 poses an acute risk for residents of senior are facilities. Refinancing with a HECM or leveraging a HECM for purchase can make home health care a viable option for many.

Ellen Skaggs, reverse national sales manager at New American Funding

I truly believe that 2021 will be another great year for reverse mortgages. We have gained better understanding of the requirements to meet financial assessment. We are going into this next year with sound real estate values.

Ellen Skaggs

Raising the maximum claim amount to $822,375 will help many more clients nationwide benefit from the HECM program. The portfolio products have made positive changes and have seen growth across the United States. We have seen the financial planners begin to understand the benefits of long-term planning for the senior populations and begin to embrace reverse products.  I personally work with real estate agents and builders to educate them about the value of the reverse loan as a purchase tool.

New American Funding has a large forward operation nationwide. I plan to help my team work closely with our branches to expand options to their customers. The forward loan officers do not originate reverse loans, so we act as their partners in educating their customer, clients and friends. I will be expanding our reverse team this year to have loan officers located near and in our retail branches nationwide.

Editor’s Note: This is the second of two installments recounting the perspectives of industry executives on 2021 business, and you can read the first part here.

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