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Reverse mortgages seen as a path forward for lenders

Guild Mortgage CEO Terry Schmidt speaks last week at
The Gathering by HousingWire in Scottsdale, Arizona. Photo credit: AJ Canaria

Discussions about the reverse mortgage product category were not difficult to find this past week in Scottsdale, Arizona, during The Gathering by HousingWire, an event that combined both the real estate-focused RealTrends Gathering of Eagles and the mortgage-focused HousingWire Annual into a single event for the first time.

While Finance of America Companies (FOA) President Kristen Sieffert was the biggest reverse mortgage industry representative to take the stage at the event, other lending professionals who are active in the reverse mortgage business also spoke about why they’re involved in the space and what they believe it can do for their companies going forward.

Cherry Creek’s addition to Guild

One of the biggest examples of this came during a discussion between HousingWire Editor in Chief Sarah Wheeler and Terry Schmidt, the CEO of Guild Mortgage.

Guild has previously maintained a reverse mortgage division, but after focusing on growing its overall footprint through various acquisitions over the past year, one of its targets — Cherry Creek Mortgage — stood out as a big player in the reverse space and has now been fully absorbed into Guild.

“With Cherry Creek, [our interest] was reverse,” Schmidt said. “Now, we have a good reverse mortgage division at Guild, and they do really great recruiting there, so we’re learning a lot.”

When asked to explain more about the opportunity she sees in reverse, Schmidt explained that the size of the company’s overall mortgage portfolio is such that it includes a lot of people who are getting closer to the qualifying age of a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM). This means that the reverse channel provides a chance for Guild to serve these clients for a longer period of time.

“There’s a big portion of those customers that are getting to that age where [a reverse mortgage] may be their next type of transaction,” she said. “The aging and demographics [provide] great opportunity. It’s a great product to have, so we see it as a growing niche.”

Schmidt referenced the adoption of a “customers for life” strategy, which includes bringing certain products aboard to serve customers’ needs over a longer period of time, and she referenced reverse mortgages as being part of that.

GR bets big on reverse education

Also mentioning reverse mortgages on stage was Andrew Pohlmann, chief marketing officer of Guaranteed Rate. He mentioned the specific certification that the company uses to further build out its reverse mortgage division, using professionals equipped to handle the unique realities and requirements of these loans.

After the certification is gained, these professionals can start marketing reverse mortgages more broadly to referral partners, including real estate agents and financial advisers, Pohlmann said.

“The financial adviser community now is a really great audience that is beginning to understand that the [reverse mortgage] product is not what it used to be,” he said. “And it creates a whole new referral source — not just for reverse — that [allows them to] start focusing on financial advisers.”

Education remains a critically important piece of the puzzle for proliferating reverse mortgage business. The division at Guaranteed Rate, led by Ryan Ogata, is aiming to bring as many potential partners up to speed as possible, Pohlmann explained.

“We now have an introduction to reverse that [our people] can hold with their financial advisers or real estate professionals as well on the reverse for purchase,” Pohlmann said. “We help them organize events or webinars so that they can provide that information.”

For professionals who may not have a Rolodex full of financial adviser referral partners, the division also provides resources to help identify partners in their communities, he said.

“Just recently, we also had one of our [educational] sessions certified by the CFP board for continuing education for financial advisers,” Pohlmann said. “So, now there’s really this infrastructure in place so they can do what they do best, and meet with people face to face and begin to introduce that opportunity.”

In a previous interview, Ogata told RMD that the reverse mortgage for purchase represents a key opportunity to expand the division’s business.

“I was reviewing some statistics on just how large the boomer demographic plays into the existing housing market,” Ogata told RMD in October. “The statistic I was looking at was that 39% of all purchase transactions in this climate are being done by that demographic, and talk about just a very relevant product for that segment that I think is being underutilized.

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