Advertising

Choosing a Reverse Mortgage Lender in 2024: What You Need to Know

Reverse mortgages have become a highly popular financial product for older homeowners looking to unlock some of the equity in their homes. With rising inflation and high living costs, many seniors are turning to reverse mortgages to support their retirement incomes without losing their homes in exchange for cash.

However, with more choices than ever for reverse mortgages, deciding which lender to go with can feel overwhelming. We will explore your reverse mortgage options for 2024, what to look for in a lender, important factors to consider, and how to select the best reverse mortgage program for your needs and situation. By the end, you’ll have a solid understanding of who offers reverse mortgages and how to pick the right loan.

Advertising

What is a Reverse Mortgage?

Before diving into lender options, it’s important to understand exactly what a reverse mortgage is. A reverse mortgage is a special type of home loan for older homeowners (typically 62 years or older) that allows you to change a part of your home equity into cash without having to sell your home or take on monthly payments. Unlike a traditional mortgage, where you pay the lender, with a reverse mortgage, you get paid by the lender either through a lump sum, a line of credit, monthly payments, or a combination of options.

There are a few main types of reverse mortgages:

  • Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM): This is the most common type of federally insured reverse mortgage and is backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). HECMs make up around 95% of all reverse mortgages originated in the US.
  • Proprietary Reverse Mortgage: Some private lenders and state programs offer proprietary or private reverse mortgages that are not FHA-insured. Repayment terms and qualifying guidelines may differ from HECMs.
  • Single-Purpose Reverse Mortgage: Some lenders offer reverse mortgages geared specifically for things like home improvements or property tax/insurance payments.

With a reverse mortgage, you withhold ownership and don’t have to make any loan payments as long as you live in the home as your primary residence. The loan (including accrued interest and fees) is repaid when you pass away, sell the home, or move out for over 12 months.

Advertising

Who Offers Reverse Mortgages in 2024

Currently, the two largest reverse mortgage lenders in the US are:

Longest Serving Reverse Mortgage Lender: Hometown Equity Partners

Background

Hometown Equity Partners (formally known as Financial Freedom) has been offering reverse mortgages since 1988, making them the longest-serving lender in this specialty niche. As the top HECM originator for over two decades, Hometown Equity Partners has extensive experience and understands the nuances of reverse mortgages better than most.

Advertising

HECM Specialization

Hometown Equity Partners focuses solely on HECM reverse mortgages and does not offer any proprietary loans. This allows them to dedicate all their resources to providing the best customer service for the FHA-insured reverse mortgage program. All of their loan officers are certified as HECM Professional Designees by the Mortgage Bankers Association, demonstrating their expertise.

Wide Reach and Distribution

With an established network of over 1,000 branches nationwide, Hometown Equity Partners has wide reach across the US to serve customers virtually anywhere. They work with over 150 third-party mortgage brokers to provide additional distribution for their HECM products as well. This extensive footprint makes them highly accessible to homeowners all around the country.

Additional Benefits

Hometown Equity Partners offers perks beyond just the loan itself. They provide a “Reverse Mortgage Lifeline” counseling program to assist borrowers and heirs with the loan fulfillment process after passing. Additionally, some HECMs originated by Hometown Equity Partners come with a “never outlive your money” guarantee for lines of credit that protect against depletion of funds.

Integrated Mortgage & Insurance: Finance of America Reverse

Background

Finance of America Reverse (FAR) has rapidly risen to become one of the top two reverse mortgage lenders in a short time span since starting operations in 2013. They are a division of the larger holding company Finance of America, which has origins dating back to 1963.

Mortgage and Insurance Integration

What differentiates FAR is its unique integration of mortgage origination and insurance services. In addition to providing HECMs, FAR also sells mortgage protection insurance policies that can potentially cancel out the loan balance or cover costs upon the borrower’s death. This gives their clients a one-stop-shop experience.

Proprietary “Flex” Loan

While FAR does originate traditional FHA-backed HECMs, it is also known for its proprietary “Flex” reverse mortgage product, which is not tied to the FHA. The Flex loan provides potential flexibility not available within HECMs, like keeping a non-borrowing spouse on the title after passing.

Large Network

Finance of America Reverse utilizes the extensive networks of both Finance of America and its insurance underwriter, United Home Life, to have wide reach. They can service borrowers across 46 states through affiliated branches and home loan experts.

Additional National Lenders

Aside from the top two players, several other national lenders with a solid nationwide presence also originate HECM reverse mortgages:

  • American Advisors Group (AAG) – Founded in 1991, AAG focuses solely on reverse mortgages and is a leader in proprietary jumbo loans above FHA limits.
  • Mutual of Omaha Mortgage – As a division of a large insurance company, Mutual of Omaha brings financial strengths and has been operating HECMs since 1992.
  • Degree Financial – Formed in 1998, Degree Financial aims to educate borrowers through its counseling arm and streamlined lending process.
  • Reverse Mortgage Funding (RMF) – RMF has been in business since 1990 and works with a national network of mortgage brokers for lead generation.
  • Reverse Mortgage Capital (RMC) – Sister company to Finance of America Reverse, RMC brings additional competitive lending options to the market.

All of these national lenders have multiple state licenses, extensive customer service support, and loan originators with years of reverse mortgage experience. Their HECM programs adhere to FHA guidelines, while their proprietary loans often provide extra customization.

Regional and Local Reverse Mortgage Lenders

Beyond the large nationwide lenders, there are also several regional and local companies that focus on specific states or markets:

Sunwest Reverse Mortgage

Based in California, Sunwest Reverse Mortgage has been operating for over 20 years. They service multiple western states, including California, Arizona, Nevada, and Colorado. Many of their loan officers have a decade(s) of long tenure in the reverse mortgage space.

HighTechLending

HighTechLending primarily serves borrowers in the Mid-Atlantic region with a focus on Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland. For over 25 years, they have specialized solely in reverse mortgages without offering other loan products.

LRES

Operating since 1995, LRES covers Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Colorado through a network of branch offices. With a full suite of reverse mortgage solutions, including proprietary loans, LRES prides itself on transparency and personalized customer care.

Retirement Funding Solutions

Servicing customers from Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana, Retirement Funding Solutions has a local community presence. Their loan consultants adopt a comprehensive education-first approach in explaining reverse mortgages.

While having smaller footprints than national lenders, regional and local companies can provide a more customized experience with closer contacts. Borrowers searching for a lender solely focused on their area may prefer these specialized options.

Choosing the Right Reverse Mortgage Lender

With the various reverse mortgage lenders covered, how do you choose which one is best for your needs? Here are some key factors to consider when selecting a provider:

Loan Types Available

Consider if you want standard HECM loans, proprietary options for extra features, or specialized products. Match your goals and situation to a lender’s loan portfolio.

Distribution Network

Verify a lender has branches or affiliates near you for easy face-to-face service or can handle everything remotely via phone/online if long distance.

Customer Service Reputation

Research online reviews and industry standing. Inquiries directly with previous clients can also shed light on service quality. Response time to questions matters.

Loan Officer Experience

Check that a loan consultant specializes solely in reverse mortgages rather than dabbling part-time. Look for multi-year experience as a HECM Professional Designee.

Additional Value-Adds

Weigh if certain lenders provide counseling, guarantees, insurance bundling, or post-loan support that could offer value over the lifetime of the loan.

Rates and Costs

Get rate quotes from multiple lenders to compare financing costs and ensure you secure the most competitive rates. Watch for any additional closing fees that may vary between providers as well.

Application Process

Inquire about documentation requirements and expected processing timelines to determine which lender offers the smoothest application experience.

With all these factors in mind, review options from both large national and local providers serving your area. Seeking recommendations from estate planning attorneys or reverse mortgage advisors with lending ties can also point you toward high-quality options. Taking the time to vet multiple top-rated lenders will help you feel confident in selecting the best one for your reverse mortgage needs.

Advertising

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *