US Mortgage Corporation committed to reverse channel, new HECM head says

Leaders at US Mortgage Corporation sat down with RMD to discuss their expanded presence and future goals in the reverse mortgage business.

New York-based multichannel lender US Mortgage Corporation previously announced that it was renewing its efforts in the reverse mortgage industry, having hired industry veteran Ken Krajewski to serve as managing director and head of reverse mortgage lending.

To go deeper into the company’s renewed efforts in the space, RMD sat down with Krajewski and US Mortgage Corporation President Scott Milner about the groundwork the company is laying in the reverse space today, and what it hopes to achieve from it tomorrow.

Investor interest, product offerings

When asked about investor interest, Krajewski said that partners are eager about the prospect of more companies entering the reverse mortgage business — especially firms that are well known to them.

“There is a lot of interest from virtually every wholesaler and investor out there,” Krajewski said. “When they learn that there’s another company looking to grow their reverse mortgage business, I think there’s some excitement about that. Working with a mortgage company that has been handling reverse mortgages for over a decade but is now deciding to go all in and expand that business is precisely what the industry should be doing, and that should be exciting to everyone.”

Proprietary product offerings are on the table as well. In addition to the ones the company currently has in place, Krajewski said the company will aim to bring itself to parity with major competitors’ offerings on that side of the business.

“We are hearing from everyone interested in getting us on board. We do have proprietary products in place based on where we’re currently doing business, but we are also talking to other investors to see who can offer other products that may help us enhance our reverse mortgage business overall,” he explained. “The response has been very good and it’s exciting that our wholesale partners are really interested in helping us grow our business.”

In addition to its existing products, the company is also actively exploring what it can add to bring qualifying borrowers as young as 55 into the fold through proprietary reverse mortgage programs in certain states.

“We’re currently offering the same jumbo and proprietary products that the bigger companies are offering right now,” Krajewski said. “However, we are going to position ourselves to be competitive and be able to offer whatever proprietary products are out there that our competitors are using as well, to allow financing for people aged 55 and older.

“I’m excited to continue signing up with investors who are expanding their proprietary products and creating more reverse mortgage opportunities for people looking to age in place.”

Expansive national footprint

When asked if the renewed effort in the reverse lending channel would have more of a regional focus before expanding nationwide, Krajewski said that the intention is to offer reverse mortgages in each of the company’s offices across the country.

“US Mortgage is a national company. We’ve got branches and loan officers nationwide, and we are rolling the product out to all of our branches and all of our loan officers,” he said. “We are actively recruiting throughout the country.

“One of our goals is building out a retail sales team, which is really important to us. We do know that seniors prefer to do business face to face, and they would rather sit down with someone at a kitchen table as opposed to doing something online or through the mail.”

On top of that, Krajewski said that the company is actively recruiting and hiring people nationally, from coast to coast, to help bolster the offering.

As far as what the industry should know most about the company staking a larger claim in reverse, Krajewski said that the firm’s longstanding track record in the wider mortgage business should communicate what it can bring to the proverbial reverse mortgage table.

“[US Mortgage has] continued to prove that they can weather any storm,” he said. “They are looking to grow, using whatever resources are at their disposal to help expand both the forward and reverse sides of their business. It’s exciting to be part of a group of people who share a common core value of homeownership, specifically allowing people to age in their homes in a dignified manner.”

The company, he said, understands that retirement has challenges that more traditional financial instruments may not be able to meet, so it is doing its part to help the reverse mortgage division succeed.

“There are many experienced and intelligent people at US Mortgage who are putting things in place to enable us to provide support and participate in helping older people maintain homeownership and age in place,” he said. “It’s truly exciting to be part of a team and an organization that aligns so well with [the reverse mortgage industry’s] core values.”

New partnerships

Milner, the company’s president, said that US Mortgage’s prior reverse experience should not be shortchanged, but its renewed effort signifies a new chapter for the company in the reverse mortgage arena.

“Part of why I’m very excited about this is that it allows us to talk to a lot of different potential referral sources,” Milner said. “Too often, forward loan officers are just focused on their real estate agent partners. However, I really do look at this as a financial planning tool.”

Coming from a financial planning background, Milner sees the value that a reverse mortgage could bring for the right borrower, he said.

“I think this is going to open the door for us to have conversations with financial planners, estate attorneys and a variety of people that will be a really nice complement to the organization,” he said. “Ken has also spent a ton of time forming strategic alliances with peripheral companies involved in people’s aging process. We’re looking at different business development initiatives that I think will be quite unique to the industry as well.”

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