The Coronavirus & Home Appointments

7 Tips to Protect Senior Homeowners

There’s no denying the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a global crisis with economic and societal repercussions that will reverberate for several months. This week the Mortgage Bankers Association and the National Association of Realtors announced the cancelation of their scheduled conferences just weeks before attendees were to arrive. Not surprising since 35 states have reported confirmed cases of COVID-19- a number that’s certain to climb.

As coronavirus cases spike new reverse mortgage borrowers will enjoy a significant boost in available loan proceeds thanks to a historically-low 10-year LIBOR swap rate. However, the health risks for older Americans will require sustained vigilance from all professionals who frequently interact with our older population.

Why should reverse mortgage originators be cautious? Unlike their traditional mortgage counterparts, reverse mortgage appointments often take place in the home of prospective borrowers. The tradition of ‘kitchen table sales’ affords both the homeowner the opportunity to discuss the particulars of the loan in a relaxed setting and the originator the ability to spot any health or safety issues that would require correction to qualify for the loan. 

These home visits should prompt us to examine the best practices which may help prevent the spread of a disease, that not unlike the seasonal flu, is particularly dangerous for those over the age of 70. With that in mind, here are some practical tips to prevent ‘person-to-person’ transmission.

1. If you’re even slightly sick stay home! According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), individuals are most contagious when they are presenting symptoms which include a sudden fever, shortness of breath, or a cough. If you think you are sick assume that you are and plan accordingly.

2. Even if you’re not sick, practice good hygiene to prevent person-to-person spread. As one friend put it, “wash your hands like you’ve been chopping jalapeños all day and need to remove a contact”. It’s a good practice to also carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer and use it every time after you touch surfaces. Avoid touching your face and mouth. If you do need to scratch your face use your sleeve or jacket.

3. When meeting in the home avoid shaking hands whenever possible. Explain to them that you’re practicing safe hygiene due to the flu season, not just coronavirus. 

4. Arrange your face-to-face meeting sitting at least six-feet apart. CDC experts caution that person-to-person spread typically occurs within six-feet or through respiratory droplets produced from coughs or sneezes.

5. Be sensitive to the feelings of your potential borrowers. Some of those you’ve scheduled an appointment with may choose to postpone meeting you in person. With seniors being especially vulnerable to serious health complications from COVID-19 it’s understandable why they may be apprehensive to invite you into their home.

6. Take advantage of technology. You may want to consider making use of Skype or other consumer teleconferencing apps for those who are reluctant to meet and are technically competent. In addition, using a screencasting tool such as Loom is a great way to explain the various parts of a reverse mortgage proposal which includes a loan comparison sheet, TALC, and amortization schedule. The recorded screencast can be sent via email.

7. Ditch the face mask. Health experts caution that surgical masks should only be worn if you’re infected or if you will in close contact with an infected individual. Otherwise wearing one to your next appointment is certain to create alarm not to mention compounding the shortage for medical professionals.

Fear, hysteria, and misinformation are rampant. Arm yourself with the facts and practice good hygiene and preventative measures at home, in the office, and most certainly when you are meeting with senior homeowners. 

What impacts from the Coronavirus pandemic are you experiencing? Leave your comments below and be sure to note your city and state.

Coronavirus Resources:

John Hopkins map of confirmed COVID-19 cases

CDC Coronavirus Info (CDC)

Is the Coronavirus a Pandemic?


The Critic March 9, 2020 at 9:49 pm

This is a particularly difficult topic since so many of us earn our livelihood from “meeting across the kitchen table.” Yet this is food for thought.

Many health experts talk of this time as the beginning of a pandemic. Will NRMLA or the lenders become proactive to help those of us in the field to understand how we should modify our current modus operandi so that we can be productive and care for the pragmatic concerns of our prospects and their health and health concerns.

Unless Coronavirus is stopped in the next few weeks, I hope there will be at least one followup article on this subject.

Owen Coyle March 10, 2020 at 5:56 am

Thanks for this very important information Shannon. I have a 11:00 luncheon meeting today with a realtor who wants to do a H4P sometime in the next few months. I’ll be careful NOT TO SHAKE HER HAND.

I always have a container of hand wipes in my car and I’ve been using those for the past several years and now I will use them more frequently.’

And I’m driving to Los Angeles tomorrow to meet with a 74 year old, so I’ll be careful NOT TO SHAKE HIS HAND and I won’t get to close to him.

Thanks again for this information.

Sandy Clements March 10, 2020 at 9:32 am

This is a great article. I been having clients postponing our consultation and application meetings because of their fear of the health threat. It is a frightening situation for all of us. I am as concerned about going to their homes as they are about me coming to them and am taking the precautions that I can to hopefully mitigate the threat of spreading the virus. I have been visiting borrowers homes for 20 years without a worry. The health threat is changing quickly and we must be as adaptable as we can be.

Melinda March 10, 2020 at 1:15 pm

I am encouraging more folks to do their appointments on facetime or skype and doing electronic docs. I think we all need to be safe and also protect those around us who may not stay up on the latest news. Take care out there!

Let’s Talk Coronavirus – March 12, 2020 at 10:38 pm

[…] This video is an adaptation of our article 7 Steps to Protect Senior Homeowners from the Coronavirus […]


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