Steven J. Sless has become a highly regarded “go-to housing wealth expert” among various media outlets. Bringing 16 years of mortgage industry experience, he runs PRMI’s first consumer-direct retail branch dealing exclusively with reverse mortgages in Owings Mills, MD. He also coaches traditional loan originators working at PRMI’s 270 branches nationwide about reverse mortgages. Weekly Report sat down with Sless to get his thoughts on the current marketplace.
Weekly Report: How are you adapting to today’s reverse mortgage market?
Steven Sless: For me, the answer to this question shouldn’t be focused on how we are adapting to today’s reverse mortgage market but how are we positioning our business for long-term stability. How will we adapt to the next big change or market swing? For several years now, my focus has been on building and investing in a trusted and respected brand. Making sure that all of our clients and referral partners understand our Who, What & Why. We’ve also been able to create a wide variety of lead sources and partners. This diversification I believe is also critical to sustainability. Leveraging local media has also been important as we attempt to change the conversation regarding reverse mortgages in the mainstream.
WR: Has the conversation changed at all between you and you clients in terms of helping sell the product?
SS: The conversation is always changing and evolving. Borrowers are savvier today than in years past and can comprehend a more advanced conversation about the principles and strategies of incorporating housing wealth in retirement planning. Reverse mortgage originators, particularly HECM-exclusive originators who can hold a more advanced conversation without overwhelming the borrower or talking in terms over their head, will clearly win in today’s marketplace. It’s also important to sell the product with passion, enthusiasm and excitement.
WR: What is your favorite reverse mortgage story?
SS: There are so many special and unique stories that picking one would be a difficult task. For the purpose of this question, I’ll choose to focus on the perseverance and determination of those reverse mortgage exclusive originators who have remained dedicated to helping their clients achieve a better retirement despite the onslaught of challenges and regulatory changes in recent years. So many in our industry have sacrificed so much and have stuck it out when the going really got tough and the future of the product and in many cases our livelihood was uncertain. I believe those who remained committed, adjusted their business model and repositioned their business are now battle tested and prepared for whatever comes our way.
WR: How do you all reach consumers today? Social media?
SS: We reach consumers everywhere. Social media, radio, tv, podcasts, printed articles, referral partners, seminars, etc. Diversification of leads and lead sources is mission critical. Our goal is to be everywhere, educating, empowering and helping our clients and partners alike.
WR: What is one (positive) take away for the coming year?
SS: This has been a tremendous year of growth for the Steven J. Sless Group brand. Partnering with Primary Residential Mortgage (PRMI) and witnessing their commitment and investment to growing a national reverse platform has been amazing. We are “all in” at PRMI and I’m humbled and grateful to represent this amazing company.