Nov/Dec 2023 RMM

BASED IN ROSEVILLE, CA, and founded in 1996, American Pacific Mortgage (APM) is a national, independently owned and operated retail mortgage lender that has funded over $22 billion annually. In 2005, the company expanded into reverse mortgages. For much of the past decade, it has consistently ranked among the top 20 reverse mortgage lenders in the U.S. Desmond Lenz, CRMP, has overseen the reverse mortgage division since its inception. Lenz got his start in the mortgage business in 1992, originating Federal Housing Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, conventional and construction loans. Reverse Mortgage magazine sat down with Lenz to find out how he got his start in reverse mortgages, what factors have contributed to his division’s success and what his priorities are for 2024. Reverse Mortgage: How did you get your start in the reverse mortgage business? Desmond Lenz: I started originating traditional mortgages in 1992 and ended up at American Pacific Mortgage in 2000. I started looking for a niche. Traditional mortgages were interesting, but I started researching reverse mortgages. I liked the demographic, and I liked what the loan could do. I view it as a financial tool that can do a lot of things for a lot of people. I went to the ownership of the company, and they said, “We don’t currently do them. If you want to do reverse mortgages, you must do the research, you must get trained and you must pay for whatever needs to get approved.” We got trained and started originating loans. We did that for about five years when it became really evident that reverse mortgages were a different animal compared with traditional mortgages. My loan processor did forward mortgages and reverse mortgages. She disliked reverse mortgages because they took longer and were so different. We launched the reverse mortgage division in 2005 as a separate platform within APM to funnel reverse mortgages so that we had the expertise and the oversight. RM: How did you find out about reverse mortgages? DL: I read about them, and about seven years earlier, somebody came into the office and said, “Hey, I do reverse mortgages.” I had no idea what they were, but we talked a little bit. Nothing developed from that conversation, but it planted a seed so that later, it was like, “Hmm! Let me read about these; let me do some exploration.” Through the research, that’s where the interest grew, and it was, “Oh, look what this could do.” RM: Tell us about American Pacific Mortgage and what distinguishes it from other lenders. DL: APM is licensed in 49 states, employs more than 3,600 people and has around 160 branches. What I like about the company, what distinguishes it for me, is its stability. We have an executive team that is good at looking down the road and asking, “Where’s the market going? Where do we have to be to not only survive but thrive?” That’s how APM navigated 2008, 2020 and right now, which gives us the platform and the framework to have our reverse mortgage group and to have the doors open every day. Our superpower in the reverse group is our people. We’ve got a team with a lot of experience. I spoke with two people in the office today, and both reminded me that they had been with the company since the reverse mortgage division was launched 18 years ago. Our company is built on a purchase business model on the forward side, so it’s face-to-face. You know your realtors; you know your borrowers. That is a superpower for us because our loan officers sit with the clients and Desmond Lenz, Director, American Pacific Reverse Mortgage Group By Darryl Hicks Desmond Lenz From the Top 10 REVERSE MORTGAGE / NOVEMBER–DECEMBER 2023