Ask the Reverse Mortgage Guy


By: Robert Irving – May, 2011

Celebrity TV Endorsements – Robert Wagner is back on TV in a toned down commercial for reverse mortgages; this time for Guardian First Funding Group out of New York and Philadelphia. According to an employment ad, this company operates a Call Center and hires telephone representatives as they “aggressively expand operations” in an upscale Manhattan office.

How the ladies still love Bob! He is ranked as the number one spokesperson for reverse mortgages and his ads generate thousands of phone calls to the Call Centers. Then there is Fred Thompson, Pat Boone. Even The Fonz (Henry Winkler) is hustling late night free DVDs or videos on reverse mortgages.

What do these celebrities actually know about reverse mortgages? Nothing! The free DVDs and videos provide generic information of little value. However, they clearly help lenders identify TV viewers who are interested in reverse mortgages… and that’s what it’s all about as far as these Call Center advertisers are concerned. If you respond to the offer for a free disc/tape… be prepared for numerous phone calls to “follow up” on your information request.

Most forms of Reverse Mortgage advertising are designed to snag your name & phone number and are not informative. If you were among hundreds of thousands who called the 800 number and eventually received the promised CD or Video… you were highly disappointed with the contents. I certainly was. You were probably even more annoyed by the stream of dinner time follow up phone calls from strangers located far away trying to “help”. You see, your name and phone number were sold to someone else and you were targeted for sales calls as a result of this innocent inquiry. That’s the sole purpose of those ads; to snag your name and phone number.

Face To Face Is Key – How could you ever have a face-to-face family meeting to discuss reverse mortgages when the “loan officer” is actually a youngster located somewhere in Colorado? This is not really a decision you want to make on a conference call with a junior telemarketer, is it? You want your loan officer to have some life experience (maturity) in order to be able to relate to issues that concern seniors. That’s what makes Wagner’s ads so successful… for the lender. He has some life experience. Too bad he’s not going to sit down at the kitchen table with you to provide real answers to your specific questions.

63% of seniors use the internet as a research tool. You can learn a lot on the internet… if you are very careful. You should understand that there are hundreds of internet-based commercial operations promising to “put you in touch with preferred lenders” or have “our reverse mortgage expert call you immediately” or “send you valuable reverse mortgage information.”

Beware! – These people are simply trolling for names and addresses that they turn around and sell to lenders anywhere in the country. Lenders pay as little as $5 per name or as much as $150 depending upon so-called quality. The more expensive “leads” are usually the result of responses to TV commercials like the long running Robert Wagner offer to learn “much, much more…”. Chances are good that your contact information was sold to a lender willing to call you repeatedly and usually at dinnertime to annoyingly offer reverse mortgage services.

Google Ads – If you “Google” the words reverse mortgages you come up with millions of listings. Listings that appear on the resulting first page are not there by accident. There is an entire industry dealing with SEO (search engine optimization) that assists those who want to appear among the first few pages of search results. For a fee, search engines allow individuals or companies to have their listing appear within the top couple of positions. These paid listings are recognized by the shaded yellow background. More advertisers appear on the extreme right column of the page. You wonder why would someone pay money to have you click on their listing? The answer is usually that they will be making money from the information they collect from you.

Other Problems – In the experience of many, the promised information is almost worthless. The material you receive will be generic at best, outdated and inaccurate at worst. The list of “preferred lenders” is laughable. Even HUD’s published lender list is woefully inaccurate, incomplete and way out of date.

Boiler Room Operations – Not only is the information probably worthless, it is likely that you will be dealing with someone sitting in a room full of phone banks calling seniors all over the country from a location in, say – Colorado. You will never see this person face-to-face. This person will know nothing about lending regulations in your state, Massachusetts or New Hampshire, for example. You will have no idea if this person is an expert in the reverse mortgage industry or a youngster that started working the phones yesterday.

Next issue we will discuss tips on the best ways to choose a lender to work with.

Bob Irving is a Sr. Reverse Mortgage Consultant and Certified Senior Advisor with First Integrity Mortgage, LLC in Lawrence MA and. He is fully licensed in MA, NH & ME (NMLS #19086) and works with senior clients, their families and trusted advisors by referral. If you have questions, he may be reached direct at 978-686-0394 or by email at . Visit his website at for access to more detailed information about reverse mortgages.