Reverse Mortgage News Roundup

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This Week’s Top Reverse Mortgage Stories

1- CFPB Complaints on the Rise- The CFPB has been busy collecting consumer complaints. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reports an increase of 172% increase in reverse mortgage-related complaints since 2012. One could guess that much of this is due to increased consumer awareness of whom to report grievances to and how to do so. While the data shows a legitimate spike in HECM-related complaints, questions remain such as differentiating between mere questions and complaints that warrant with 80% not requiring any action. Industry trade groups such as the Mortgage Bankers Association, feel this serves only to mislead the consumers the CFPB is charged with protecting.

2- Stupid? A recent CNBC article said reverse mortgages aren’t for the ’stupid’. CNBC reporter Andrew Osterland opens his column saying “you don’t have to be old, poor, and stupid to get a reverse mortgage’. Perhaps Osterland is implying some ‘stupid’ homeowners fell prey to what he says tarnished the industry’s reputation in the first place- ‘cheesy television ads, unscrupulous brokers, and unwise borrower behavior’. He quotes University Professor and industry advocate Dr John Salter who says ‘The late-night ads are a really bad idea for the industry’. Overall the piece is a positive one citing the merits of the HECM when used wisely.

3-Government Shutdown? If there’s one certainty in life it is the political infighting in Washington, D.C., this time it could lead to a government shutdown. By the time you watch this episode, we should know if Republicans and Democrats were able to negotiate a stop-gap budget that President Trump would sign. If there is an extended shut down HECM endorsements would stop altogether, which would lead to a significant backlog. “FHA does not have the authority to insure additional HECMs during this period due to the statutory cap limiting the number of HECMs under the HECM program,” said a guidance piece issued by HUD during the last shutdown in 2013.

4- 2nd Annual Reverse Mortgage Education Week-Last week was Reverse Mortgage education week, during which the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association focuses on educating older adults, financial professionals, real estate agents, and family members about the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage. Topics included tax and insurance defaults, avoiding scams, and the repayment process.

Lack of Financial Literacy Challenges HECM Acceptance

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Financial illiteracy challenges acceptance of a counter-intuitive mortgagereverse mortgage news

If there is one subject that cries for remedial instruction it’s financial literacy. found that nearly two thirds of Americans are in effect financially illiterate, unable to grasp basic financial concepts. As the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage has become increasingly complex in recent years, the knowledge gap has widened.

Before attempting to explain how a reverse mortgage works, we should perhaps conduct a quick assessment of the prospective borrower’s grasp of financial concepts. After all, who would want to jump from algebra straight to trigonometry? In reality, filling the role of a financial counselor is often impractical, nevertheless we should be mindful of many homeowner’s ability to absorb the information we are presenting.

Consider one question: if you take out a $1,000 loan that has a 20% interest rate, how much will you owe in one year in interest? Nearly two thirds could not answer correctly. The overall rate of American financial literacy findings come from the National Capacity Study by the FINRA Foundation.The very nature of reverse mortgages is counter-intuitive to the mortgages most have known and paid for most of their working years. That familiarity is fraught with myths and misconceptions. Take for example ….

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Shutting Down: Why many reject the HECM

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The hurdles to increased acceptance are complex

Today there is an estimated $4.4 trillion in home equity for those 65 and older, many who are woefully unprepared for retirement. As HECM endorsements continue to underperform years past, many ask why more eligible homeowners do not get a reverse mortgage.

A recent report from the Urban Institute reveals some of the underlying causes of homeowners reluctance to get a reverse mortgage despite the potential benefits. For years our industry has generally accepted the statistic that a mere 2% of eligible homeowners. However, last summer a MIT study provided a more detailed summary. Analyzing over 3,700 retired households with a loan to value ratios less and 40%, they found 55% would be eligible for a HECM. The bottom line, 12-14% of all retired households in the U.S. are eligible for the reverse mortgage.

The DC think tank, the Urban Institute, published a report entitled ‘Seniors’ Access to Home Equity’, which determined that adults 65 and older control $4.4 trillion of the total $11 trillion held by American homeowners. With nearly half of households in this group having zero retirement savings why are more not seizing the opportunity to fund their retirement years using a reverse mortgage? The primary factors, the report shows, are

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Scare Tactics

Many seniors are becoming wise to telephone scams telling them they’ve just won a sweepstakes, they probably feel they can trust what they read in Time magazine, or what an elder abuse attorney shares in a letter. Both recent scenarios entail gross misrepresentation of the reverse mortgage industry — and mislead seniors by what should be trustworthy sources of information

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Required Pre-Education?

Require Pre-Education Before Counseling? One groups suggested to the CFPB that a ‘third party’ provide upfront education about the reverse mortgage BEFORE the borrower get’s HUD counseling or meets with a lender. Who would these ‘third parties’ be and who would supervise them?

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