Harlan Accola, national director of reverse mortgages at Fairway Independent Mortgage Corp., had been looking forward to this day for 18 years. The day he would finally take out his own home equity conversion mortgage (HECM) after reaching age 62, the eligibility age for the HECM program administered by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).
After devoting much of his professional time and effort to educating potential partners and clients on the benefits a reverse mortgage could contribute to someone’s retirement strategy, he was eager to begin offering first-hand accounts of his own experiences as a reverse mortgage. client, and the added security they feel by having access to a permanent HECM line of credit.
To get a better sense of how this reverse mortgage industry veteran went through the process of becoming a borrower himself, RMD sat down with national reverse sales training specialist Accola and Fairway, Dan Hultquist.
The long road to your own reverse mortgage
Having lived for years in Wisconsin, Accola was no stranger to the harsh winters of the Midwest. When he saw that there was a seminar on the subject of reverse mortgages taking place in Miami, it was more the climate that prompted him to go than the topic of conversation. However, this turned out to be the start of not only a career focused on the reverse, but also the resolution that he would one day get a reverse mortgage for himself.
Shortly after returning from that seminar, Accola went to see his financial advisor in Wisconsin and asked him about the potential impact on his finances if he freed up $1,500 a month in mortgage payments for his advisor. manages and applies investments.
“When he ran the numbers, he said I’ll have about $100,000 up front when I get to 2022,” Accola explained. “And it turns out he was wrong. I have $150,000 in advance.
Understandably, Accola – which has been shortlisted as part of RMD’s Changemakers class in 2021 – is reluctant to share personal details, but in this case he feels it’s important to point out the difference that the incorporation of a reverse mortgage will also do for one’s own retirement. about his family. On top of that, issues of perception and why anyone would get a reverse mortgage have dogged him, even given the position he finds himself in as the visible leader of a reverse mortgage division of a major lender.
“Normally I don’t want to go public with my personal financial affairs, but I feel like I need to be able to get the word out,” he says. “Some people have even asked me if I have any problems since I will be doing a reverse mortgage when I turn 62. That is not the question. Are you in trouble if you’re saving for an IRA? It’s weird how [reverse mortgages] are being reviewed, and we have to change that or there will be a lot of screwed up retirements out there.
A Shared Reverse Mortgage Experience
One thing Accola and Hultquist found interesting was the number of Fairway employees who expressed interest in Accola’s strategy, but even more remarkable was the number of employees describing their own reverse mortgage experiences during a recent company-wide training call, which typically has between 150 and 200 attendees.
“We’ve had people rush in and say that after recently turning 62, they also have their own reverse mortgage,” Hultquist says. “I think as a reverse mortgage lender we could have a higher percentage of employees with reverse mortgages than anyone in the country. It may be hard to prove, but they talk about it openly.
This transparency from employees about their own reverse mortgages communicates two things to Hultquist, he says. The first is that they understand a reverse mortgage very well by implementing it into their own financial plans, and the second is that because of this they are ready to involve more people in this matter.
“That’s, I think, the lesson to be learned,” says Hultquist. “Harlan is blowing it all up on social media because he’s proud he did something so careful. He doesn’t need it and never has, but he does it because it’s careful. .
Process and Tips for a Reverse Mortgage Professional
While Accola is open about the difference having a reverse mortgage will make to him, he is also open about the potential benefits he had in terms of staff and advisors.
“It was a bit unfair because I have the best processor, I have the best adviser Dan Hultquist and our own departments,” he said. “Obviously I have to get someone else to do the loan. Allegiant Reverse Services made my conclusion and the title, they sent someone to my house that morning.
Selecting an originator was not complicated as all they needed to do was find someone licensed in the state of Minnesota to do the actual loan. The most interesting part of the process, at least for Accola as a reverse mortgage professional, was the counseling session.
“I didn’t tell the counselor about what I had done,” says Accola. “So she went into an extreme amount of detail, and she said I understood him a lot better than most people she talks to, which was encouraging.”
The adviser also asked Accola if he understood he had the right to seek a better deal from other lenders, which he said made him “irritated” with a laugh.
“I told him quickly that I’m very happy where I am,” he smiles. “I have already applied, so it was interesting. Obviously my wife was on and she is a non-borrowing wife because she is underage which she liked being told at 59.
‘That was cool’
Beyond that, it was his wife who made it clear to Accola that his family is now assured of a greater degree of safety thanks to the HECM. After boarding a plane to Colorado, Accola spoke with his wife on the tarmac about the recent loan close.
“I said, ‘well, honey, we finally have our reverse mortgage. And she said, ‘Yes, and I can live in this house until I’m 150 as long as I pay the taxes and the insurance. and keep it maintained,'” Accola said of their conversation. “And, you know, that was cool. She was joking a bit, but I realized, “Hey, my wife has a house whether I’m alive or dead.”
Learn more about Accola’s experience of soon becoming a reverse mortgage borrower on RMD.