This is the first in a “Meet the Team” series about each of our Reverse Mortgage Specialists.
Finding ‘Hope’ in Reverse Mortgages
Colorado has 786,000 seniors with tens of billions of dollars trapped in home equity. Many seniors are struggling financially in retirement due to increasing expenses and having a fixed income. Others are entering retirement with uncertainty as they wonder if their retirement funds will hold up because people often outlive the projections for assets in retirement.
A reverse mortgage may be the answer to pay off an existing mortgage or simply unlock the equity accumulated in the home, thereby providing relief for stretched budgets and/or an additional “retirement bucket of funds” from which to better manage longevity.
For Kathy Muni, Reverse Mortgage Specialist and Senior Loan Officer with Silver Leaf Mortgage in Denver, helping people achieve a more stable and better financial position in retirement is a passion.
Below is an interview with Kathy Muni.
How long has the team at Silver Leaf Mortgage been originating?
We have a combined total of 100 years in the mortgage business. Everyone began in the world of regular forward mortgages, but about four years ago, we began to see the great needs of seniors in our state and wanted to help them.
How did you first learn about the reverse mortgage product, and what led to your initial realization that reverse origination was something you could do?
My husband has been originating loans since 1998 and did his first reverse mortgage in 2007. It was life changing for that client, allowing him to pay off his debt, avoid foreclosure and have some money in the bank. When the government added additional safeguards to the reverse mortgage product further protecting the consumer, I knew I wanted to be involved in helping seniors achieve a better financial future as they faced an often lengthy retirement.
What would you say was your earliest big test that you found most challenging in your career as a Reverse Mortgage Specialist?
There are many myths and negative feelings about reverse mortgages that are not based on facts. Educating the public and their advisors has been a challenge, but I have a radio show, Muni for Your Money: The Reverse Mortgage Show on Legends 810AM, that is helping to get the truth out concerning the many positive changes to reverse mortgages in recent years.
What is your most unusual case that you’ve had to deal with in your capacity as a Reverse Mortgage Specialist, and how did you solve it?
That’s a tough question because there have been so many cases where other lenders have walked away or been unable to close the loan, and we have been able to help the folks. We have an amazing team at Silver Leaf Mortgage with the President of the company, Matt Witt, actively involved with all our clients. He does “house calls” and assesses the needs of the property to get it ready for the appraisal.
When we met “Sally,” she owned her home free and clear, but was visiting the Food Bank every week because the cost of her medications, doctor visits and general expenses left her short every month. Matt discovered when he visited her that she was living in squalor because she was too infirm to do anything about it. Further, there were electrical and plumbing issues in her home and a great need to attend to other deferred maintenance.
Matt oversaw a team of top professionals as they completed repairs before the appraisal. He also saw to it that the house was cleaned, decluttered, painted and receive new carpet so that Sally received a high value on the appraisal. (That would not have been the case without the help of Silver Leaf Mortgage!) After the reverse mortgage closed, Sally was able to have tax-free money in the bank and a growing line of credit for future needs. The first thing she did was make a donation to the Food Bank that had helped her for so many years.
I have many more stories like this one. As Matt said recently when accepting an award, “a reverse mortgage is a life-changing-loan.”
What do you think is needed for potential borrowers to be more fully educated about reverse mortgages?
Getting the facts and not relying on what some ill-informed person tells them. Having the facts about reverse mortgages today rather than relying on the hearsay of well-meaning family, friends or advisors who are not knowledgeable about the many positive changes is key. Listening to Muni for Your Money: The Reverse Mortgage Show on Legends 810AM Saturdays at 9 in the morning or Sundays at 10:30am is one way to learn the facts.
I have spoken to church groups, AARP gatherings and even a Parkinson’s support group. I welcome any and every opportunity to get the truth about reverse mortgage out so that people can make an informed decision rather than an emotional decision based on old myths.