The words ‘nature abhors a vacuum’ have been attributed to Aristotle who believed any empty space in nature would be filled by the denser surrounding material.
When it comes to reverse mortgages that ‘denser material’ is rampant misunderstanding and plain falsehoods. While we can uselessly expend our collective energies chaffing against the continued bias perhaps it’s time for a more productive endeavor.
While none of us have a scintilla of control over the Washington Post which recently published two negative experiences of reverse mortgage applicants, we do wield some influence in the community in which we work. That mission begins by engaging your local financial professionals, real estate agents, elder law attorneys, and local media.
Your ‘evangelical’ efforts may win some converts or more likely soften a few skeptics. Your goal is to educate them on the basics of how a reverse mortgage works, what it is, and what it is not. Sure, many will never refer you a single loan but they may be less inclined to parrot the tired tropes such as a reverse mortgage is a ‘loan of last resort”, or that “one is better off selling their home”. Why? Because professionals generally respect academic facts and dare not be caught regurgitating falsehoods. Knowledge brings with it a professional responsibility.
So how could you begin filling the misinformation vacuum in your market? Here are a few ideas. We encourage our readers to add their strategies as well.
- Reach out to your local newspaper business or financial editor and offer to meet to discuss the latest developments in the federally insured reverse mortgage. Or they may want to interview you or use you as a local expert for any reverse mortgage-related stories.
- Contact your local television and radio station news directors. Let them know who you are, what you do and your standing offer to discuss a controversial and often misunderstood loan. The media loves controversy or any topic that has potential for ‘buzz’.
- Start your list of local financial advisors in your area you would like to meet with. A cold introduction should be your last option. Instead, using LinkedIn look up each individual to see if you share any mutual professional connections in their network. If you do, those are the people you may want to ask to introduce you.
- Conduct local seminars or workshops. Myths and misunderstandings flourish in the absence of facts. Some originators have even been approved to offer classes that certified for professional continuing education credits.
- Partner with a well-respected professional. If you can pull it off, riding on the coattails of a well-esteemed advisor can do wonders for how well homeowners in your city receive you or the idea of a reverse mortgage. In the past, I co-hosted workshops with a handful of skillful local advisors. This significantly reduced the attendee’s resistance and prejudice against the loan.
There’s a void of understanding a reverse mortgage; one that endures despite decades of proven history, and hundreds of thousands of borrowers. The question is will you fill it leaving little or no space for conjecture and hearsay? Who will you meet with the advance the facts regardless of referrals. Being an itinerant ‘evangelist’ may not yield converts immediately, but it will help many avoid being deceived.