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.