Reverse Mortgages – What an Industry!

Years ago, a comedian from the old Soviet Union had a punch line that was so well-liked it seeped into the culture’s general conversation. “What a country!” he’d exclaim, heavily accented, after telling some amazing story about the differences between life here and back home.

Players in the reverse mortgage sector are feeling similarly exuberant these days, especially against a backdrop of a dismal environment in the forward world. According to HUD, 115,176 HECMs were originated last year, compared with 108,293 in 2007.

It’s a great place to be now,” says Jeff Foody, corporate education liaison, EquiPoint Financial Network, Frisco, Texas. Foody who lives in Portland, Ore., adds: “It is refreshing to be in a growing industry.”

Oddly, though, just as Foody declares that “from a business standpoint, there isn’t a better time to be in reverse mortgages, it’s not being reflected in the number of reverses being closed.” Why? “Is it marketing? Licensing? Other problems?” Foody asks rhetorically.

He speculates that the limited activity is “probably due to economic stability – companies don’t have marketing resources.” Foody says his firm is “trying to grow and expand,” but faces headwinds that are “fed by either fear or greed, much like the general economy or stock market.”

(Quick note: As if conference planners didn’t have enough challenges in staging profitable programs in a recessionary economy, now comes word that large lenders like Citigroup are prohibiting their executives from speaking at these events. Planners say they depend on lenders to attract registrants, who want to do business with them. No lenders, no attendees, no conferences.)

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