Leanne Lanier, CRMP, was first introduced to mortgage lending in 1992 when she accepted an entry-level position with a national mortgage lender. She initially focused on operations, which included post-closing, closing, processing and a favorite, training and employee development. In 2011, she obtained her mortgage loan originator license and since 2013 has focused exclusively on reverse mortgages. Weekly Report sat down with Lanier to learn more about her approach to selling reverse mortgages.
Weekly Report: How are you adapting to today’s reverse mortgage market?
Leann Lanier: My continued learning and professional development have been key to my success. I believe it is imperative to understand and promote the reverse mortgage roadmap, past and present. Establish trust and demonstrate knowledge and competency to your clients. The industry is ever changing, and adaptability is crucial.
WR: Has the conversation changed at all between you and your clients in terms of helping sell the product?
LL: Program changes have created a new-normal for everyone in our industry and my experience has been that as we have advanced in time, away from the guideline changes, the need to address what used to be has become less and less. My conversation has remained pretty consistent over time; first I seek to understand the borrower’s needs and goals, and then to educate them on the program.
WR: What is your favorite reverse mortgage story?
LL: Helping a client with a reverse mortgage is such an important job. Earning their trust and confidence, being their advocate and voice during what can be an overwhelming time will earn you a friend for life. I have so many stories that are both heart-warming and rewarding. Let me tell you about Annie.
Annie lived in a sizeable 3,000+ sq. ft. house in a city she called home for more than 50 years. She and her late husband, Ben, purchase the home together and lived a full life raising their children. But at 74, alone and on a single income, Annie struggled to maintain a home that had become too much upkeep.
She worried that a major repair, such as a roof or HVAC, might require her to ask for financial assistance from her children. Annie called to inquire about a reverse mortgage.
During the initial conversation, I gathered information about Annie’s situation. Although a reverse mortgage refinance would have helped to lessen the financial strain, I suggested to Annie that she consider buying a more suitable and comfortable home using H4P. Ecstatic that this would help her to accomplish her goal, Annie contacted a realtor friend, put her house on the market and started her search for a new patio home where yard maintenance would be managed by the homeowner’s association.
Annie had mixed emotions when the For Sale sign went up. However, after a young couple with children came along with an acceptable offer, she was pleased to have new life breathed into her treasured home. Annie moved forward and purchased a new 1,650 sq. ft. home in a retirement community with amenities shared by other retirees and no outside maintenance.
Annie used only a modest portion of her equity from the sale of her marital home to buy the patio home. With a sizeable bucket of funds remaining, Annie was able to reposition her finances for her future, which included contributing to her grandchildren’s college funds and pre-paying for her final arrangements; things that were important to her and her late-husband.
WR: How do you all reach consumers today? Social media?
LL: Alpha Mortgage has a great website for our reverse mortgage audiences providing a wealth of information, from educational materials, videos, and mortgage banker’s bios, to the ability to ask a question or request a conversation.
Our company also runs television advertisements in local markets and to maximize advertising spend we adjust the campaigns accordingly. Using the same strategy, we sometimes use a light print-buy. Our solid foundation and reputation also offer the occasional guest spot on community television segments, and a favorite, personally presenting to both professional and consumers audiences.
We all have our sphere of influence through networking and business development and word of mouth or client referrals are a notable part of our reach. Other smaller but impactful efforts include social media and search engine optimization.
WR: What is one (positive) take away for the coming year?
LL: I’m excited about the overall continued growth of the reverse mortgage industry, more specifically, the growing number of financial professionals learning the benefits the program provides. Every day, more realtors and builders are embracing the H4P program and learning that this tool not only helps their buyer to get the home that they want, but also helps them sell more homes. As our population continues to age, advisors and planners will further embrace the idea of home equity as a key part of a senior’s financial plan. A reverse mortgage is a savvy financial tool, not just for our needs-based clients anymore!!