Barbara Welsh has over 30 years of experience in the mortgage lending industry. She started as a federal examiner in San Francisco in 1984 with the Federal Home Loan Bank of California. In her move to Hawaii in 1989, she changed course and began originating mortgage loans for Big Island borrowers. In October 2004, she launched APEX Mortgage LLC and has helped over 1,000 families obtain mortgage financing for purchases, refinances, construction, land acquisition and reverse mortgages. Weekly Report sat down with Barbara to discuss her approach to selling reverse mortgages and where she sees the market headed.
Weekly Report: How are you adapting to today’s market?
Barbara Welsh: I am engaging in education as much as I can, reading and listening to webinars to stay ahead of the curve. The recent discussion of taking away the line of credit growth would negatively impact the HECM market. Why pay the fees when there is little to no chance you would ever exceed the home valuation when paid off and you can’t get any additional funds. That worries me.
WR: Has the conversation changed at all between you and your clients in terms of helping sell the product?
BW: The customer is looking to both payoff current debt, get some cash and in some cases just get a line of credit. As I became of HECM age, I found myself more sensitive to the needs of the over 62 age group and how to help with the discussion of the next step for housing.
WR: What is your favorite reverse mortgage story?
BW: I recently closed a HECM for a gentleman who wanted to continue to age in place at 97 years young. I had met him back in 1989 when I was relocating to the Hawaiian Islands. I was going to be a scuba instructor and that is what he was doing in Kona, HI. While I did get my dive instructor certification, I pursued a career in mortgage lending instead which gave me this opportunity to give back 30 years later. My saddest story is not being able to get a site condo approved as the fellow condo owner does not have to participate. The condo process needs to loosen up and be more like Fannie/Freddie and VA.
WR: You are the latest person to pass the CRMP exam. How did you prepare and what advice would you offer to other candidates?
BW: I looked over some of the regulations. However, it is the experience in the industry along with the classes offered by NRMLA and our lenders that will helped me pass. Listening to the servicers at the conferences discuss what happens after an event, to the creditors on LESAs, to the appraisers on valuations – that is where the real learning happens. I would though make sure you understand the basics in each area.
WR: How do you all reach consumers today? Social media?
BW: I advertise in my local paper and on line. With the internet nothing goes away.
WR: What is one (positive) take away for the coming year?
BW: That it is an exciting time to be engaged in the discussions on reverse mortgage loans with all generations. We all need to be looking to the future and planning well.