Jerry Congdon has originated reverse mortgages in Massachusetts for over 12 years, including the past eight years at Berkshire Bank where he offers reverse mortgages throughout New England. Before getting into the mortgage business, Jerry earned a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology, worked as a family therapist and ran two psychiatric facilities before getting his MBA. He was executive vice president at a corporation for 14 years and later earned his law degree and practiced real estate, estate planning and elder law. Weekly Report sat down with Jerry to get his perspectives on the current marketplace.
Weekly Report: How are you adapting to today’s reverse mortgage market?
Jerry Congdon: Personal relationships make the difference. I deal with competitor quotes and find that meeting borrowers face-to-face seals the deal. I also have found that newspaper ads in heavy senior demo areas works remarkably well. Many cut the ads out and call later. I still find that financial planners, attorneys and realtors are not well informed about the product which presents a great opportunity.
WR: Has the conversation changed at all between you and you clients in terms of helping sell the product?
JC: No, once they find out that the bank does not take their house or force them to move out, the conversations proceed to a sale.
WR: What is your favorite reverse mortgage story?
JC: After a significant amount of work to get borrowers approved, the day of closing arrived. We waited for the borrowers for a while which prompted a call to see where they were. The wife was hysterical on the phone and said they had to cancel the closing because their pet goat died. They never continued with the closing and defaulted on their mortgage. Another story, the mother whose son convinced her to lend him money to buy a house to rehab and flip only to discover he had no carpentry skills and lost his job he needed to pay her mortgage. The mother defaulted on her mortgage and taxes and the town and lender called for me to intercede. The reverse mortgage was approved, and she remains in her home today.
WR: How do you all reach consumers today? Social media?
JC: I do not use social media. I do use select newspaper ads and meet groups (realtors, financial planners, attorneys) to educate them about the product. I am fortunate to have 140 bank branches, wealth management department and insurance group referring business.
WR: What is one (positive) take away for the coming year?
JC: The introduction of proprietary options, the number of seniors turning 65 each day, and the slowing of objections to reverse mortgages.