The Obstacle is the Way

The obstacle to HECM growth is our path forward

We’ve just finished coming off a two-year sugar rush, actually, a gold rush of accumulated home equity that surprisingly surged after the Coronavirus pandemic reached our shores. Americans were awash with newfound equity thanks to their swelling home value. 

However, today we face an obstacle in our path to increasing the market share of reverse mortgages among age-eligible homeowners. That obstacle is getting more first-time HECM borrowers. Certainly, there are other obstacles on the path to engaging more first-time borrowers. Obstacles such as rising interest rates, fewer refinances of existing HECMs and stalling home values or even declines in some markets.

“The obstacle in the path becomes the path. Never forget, within every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our condition.”

– The Obstacle is the Way- Ryan Holiday

The tale of the stone in the road

Usually, when we encounter an obstacle in our path we simply seek to find a way around it. But what if there isn’t? That brings to mind the story of the stone in the road.

Long ago there lived a good king who sought to teach his people to be industrious, fair, and strong. However, after years of abundance and wealth, they had become entitled and complained of the smallest of problems. One night the king placed a large boulder on the road that led to the city gates stopping all travel and commerce. He hid in the woods to watch. He witnessed many approach the stone and complain of the foolishness of whoever placed it there. Others criticized and some cursed the obstacle and turned away. Sometime later a humble shepherd approached the boulder. Unable to move it he thought for a moment pondering a solution. He used his staff and a smaller stone as a lever and was able to move the obstacle in the path revealing a bag of gold underneath and a note from the king.

The moral of the story is the obstacle is the way. It is the path forward.  In fact, that’s the title of a book I recently read by Ryan Holiday, The Obstacle is the Way. Perhaps you’ve heard me mention his name or his blog the Daily Stoic in our Friday’s Food for Thought segments.

When it comes to increased reverse mortgage acceptance there’s no getting around the obstacle that we need more first-time borrowers whether it be for a HECM or proprietary reverse mortgage. That impediment will not be overcome merely by getting referrals from other professionals or increasing public educational classes. Our barrier to growth requires more workers, that is reverse mortgage originators going out and engaging with the public. Perhaps part of that expanded sales force will come from traditional mortgage professionals who are seeking new sources of business and revenue but more importantly seeking a less transactional mortgage market.

Looking back on our industry since the last of the big retail banks exited reverse mortgage lending, we see many successes and failures on our journey seeking growth. What those failures have done is show us the way by showing us what isn’t the path to growth. Our successes have shown us time and again how incredibly resilient and resourceful you, our reverse mortgage professionals, truly are.

Our first step to succeeding is to see clearly. Next is to act and then endure that which we find before us with tenacity and creativity. 

Do we have obstacles in our path? Most certainly. But the obstacle is the way.


Will this Save the Reverse Mortgage Industry?

reverse mortgage news

ePath 100K RM leads

More looking outside the HECM as a single solution

What will save the reverse mortgage industry or at least put us back on a trajectory of sustained growth? One industry leader sees a path for recovery- one that broadens our vision and approach. Finance of America Reverse’s President Kristen Sieffert has successfully made inroads in expanding the reverse mortgage’s appeal. First, by engaging traditional mortgage originators through a strategic campaign that couples education and motivation. More recently, she helped shape Finance of America’s flagship jumbo reverse mortgage- the HomeSafe Select. The loan’s unique features such as a line of credit and the ability to be placed as a second lien behind a low-interest rate first mortgage align with the lender’s mission to be a retirement solutions provider.

So what is the solution to stop the slide in loan production? “It’s critical to be focused on what will help Americans get to work on retirement more holistically”, says Sieffert in her recent interview with the Reverse Review. “Historically our industry has offered a single solution to everyone...

reverse mortgage news


Viewers share their ideas to attract borrowers

Get Reverse Mortgage Leads


How sharing what works for you benefits all

Last week we asked you, our loyal viewers, to share what’s helped you attract potential HECM borrowers and grow your business. Well, several of you took the time to submit your ideas. Thank you, sincerely. Here are a few.

Networking and calling on attorneys. Many have created and nurtured relationships with attorneys who specialize in estate planning, senior benefits, Medicaid, real estate. The real advantage is their clients implicitly trust their attorney’s recommendations, and if they recommend you, there’s no better lead.

Another viewer uses focused newsletters. While many are sending out a generic newsletter template to their entire database this seasoned pro uses a more targeted approach. “I believe it is our focused newsletters sent to specific lists of potential borrowers that sustain our business and many times we get calls years after the first contact stating that the reason we are being contacted is the newsletter”, he said.

Despite Challenges This Was the Best HECM Decade

ePath 100K RM leads

A long-term perspective of HECM endorsement volume

Our collective experience as reverse mortgage professionals shapes our perspective. Much of that perspective in recent years was influenced by falling endorsement volumes.  The reverse mortgage industry posted a record 114,000 endorsements in 2009 just as the housing and economic crash began in earnest. Consequently volumes plummeted with housing values. In the years that followed, endorsement declines were commonly attributed to increased relegation and product changes. But what perspective can we gain when looking at our industry’s growth in the last decade?

James Veale is a numbers guy. Not surprising considering his extensive work prior to originating reverse mortgages as a Certified Public Accountant with a Masters in taxation. In his recent column published in Reverse Mortgage Daily Veale writes, “During the last decade, the industry produced more than twice as many endorsements (707,915) as the total endorsements for all fiscal years that preceded it (346,177). We not only saw the 500,000th endorsement in the last decade but also the 1 millionth.”

As a frame of reference, let’s review previous HECM marketing efforts.The summer edition of Reverse Mortgage Magazine published by the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA) touted 2017 as the ‘30th anniversary of the HECM’. In its first decade, the HECM was a relative unknown to older homeowners. That quickly changed in the mid-2000’s when big bank lenders such as…

Download the video transcript here

reverse mortgage news