After retiring as a police officer, Rick Sweeney, CRMP, was introduced to reverse mortgages by a friend and the two of them started working for Financial Freedom in 2005. Rick moved to Generation Mortgage a few years later and since March 2013 has originated loans for Open Mortgage serving northern California and Nevada.
In addition to originating reverse mortgages, Rick heads the condominium department at Open Mortgage where he helps coordinate condo approvals for other loan originators. Weekly Report sat down with Sweeney to discuss his approach to selling reverse mortgages.
Weekly Report: How are you adapting to today’s reverse mortgage market?
Rick Sweeney: I love this business and I am maintaining my “Old School approach” which is face-to-face consultative and relationship building with potential clients. I have been focusing on condos for many years to get me through the “hump.” Also, I have really developed a follow-up and CRM database because unlike the past, many potential borrowers may not qualify today, but will be as rates, PL, and the debt changes over a short time.
WR: Has the conversation changed at all between you and you clients in terms of helping sell the product?
RS: Yes, very much so. Two to three years ago, I think most of us were explaining how potentially good a HECM was for many purposes and that it should be considered. Now 85 percent of my prospects very much need and want a HECM and I am explaining the rules, barriers and a strategy for them.
WR: What is your favorite reverse mortgage story?
RS: A widow found me through NRMLA’s consumer website. She was in a manufactured home with a $500+ mortgage payment and $850 income from Social Security. A reverse mortgage was her only option to keep her at home. Initially, we declined because of the date of manufacture. We found a proper date certificate, so we proceeded. From FA to repairs, this loan was full of problems unknown to us all (most were fraud based and she was a victim but did not know it). My team, title, vendors, and the borrower herself would not take no for an answer. The “Team” worked at 110 percent. We completed the loan. This was the most difficult loan I have done in 14 years. Now, she has a freshly painted house. All the title and FA issues are resolved, and she no longer has the burden of monthly payments and a LOC for emergencies. She is the biggest fan of reverse mortgages and wants to tell the world. As a “thank you” to me, she has crocheted 100 baby hats for me to donate to an organization I work with.
WR: How do you all reach consumers today? Social media?
RS: Most of my clients come from referrals. Being a CRMP has driven many people to me through NRMLA’s website. I am really trying to work the Social Media, but so far, the statistics are not good. I am a believer though. My company is about to launch a bunch of tools, and content for us to make it easier.
WR: What is one (positive) take away for the coming year?
RS: This is not a tough “sell” anymore. HECM has gained a majority positive reputation. We (the average LO) must change our knowledge to be perfect in our product knowledge in order to design the best loan for those we serve. As we become less dependent on HUD with the proprietary products, I imagine an ever better market for consumers. I hope to see competitive products to the HECM instead of tweaks to the jumbos.