From Defensive to Quizzitive
Instead of responding defensively, ask these questions
A defensive response is a sure way to lose. Lose a political debate, a public presentation, or even worse your credibility.
Much of what has been presented in the media at large regarding reverse mortgages can easily put any HECM professional in a defensive position. Hysteria, fear, one-sided stories, and intentional omission all in the effort to emotionally trigger the reader. But don’t let yourself fall into their trap.
Reading Plato’s The Republic with a philosophy group has revealed some fantastic techniques for how we can respond when challenged, accused, or misunderstood. In The Republic, Plato uses Socrates as his fictitious narrator. When pressed on a point of disagreement Socrates doesn’t become defensive but rather responds with a question- a technique that bears his name to this day, the Socratic method.
The same can be said of the wild accusations that the media have heaped upon the federally insured reverse mortgage. Delinquent property taxes, unpaid homeowner’s insurance premiums, a spouse being forced to vacate who was not on the loan, and unsafe property conditions- each of these can trigger a ‘foreclosure’ with a traditional 15 or 30-year mortgage. That fact has been largely ignored by the media or buried 14 paragraphs into an article. Even worse, many who put themselves forth as a mortgage or financial ‘expert’ give the impression that such problems only plague reverse mortgage borrowers.
So the next time a financial advisor, banker, or potential borrower confronts you with a negative media story instead of becoming defensive instead try to ask one of these questions. Responding with a question instead of reacting shows strength and shifts the power back to the person asking the question.
- Do you know how delinquent property taxes are handled in a traditional mortgage?
- Do you think it’s likely that when the last borrower on a 30-year mortgage loan dies that the remaining relatives in the home are going to have the financial means or willingness to make the monthly payments? What happens then?
- What do you think a mortgage lender would do if a borrower lets the home fall into serious disrepair or fails to fix major safety issues?
- What do you think may happen if a homeowner chooses not to respond to several notices from their lender, county tax authority, or insurance company?
These are just a few ways how the use of questions can help a critic or fearful homeowner separate unfounded fears from facts in reverse mortgages. Remember, if you say it they will doubt you- if they say it, it’s true. Ask the question and let them say it instead.