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Quarter 2 2021, Volume 9 Issue 2

MMI: Helping Clients Obtain a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage During the COVID-19 National Emergency

Money Management International (MMI), a HUD-approved housing counseling Intermediary, is one of the nation's largest nonprofit credit counseling agencies. For the last 60 years, its goal has been to change how Americans overcome financial challenges. MMI empowers families and individuals to reach their goals through financial coaching, innovative programs, and consumer advocacy.

MMI also specializes in counseling on Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECM), FHA’s reverse mortgage program. As the COVID-19 national emergency continues, the demand for HECM counseling from MMI remains high. The volume of HECM refinance counseling more than doubled for MMI between the first and second quarter of Federal Fiscal Year 2021. This trend has continued into calendar year 2021 with 29 percent more HECM refinance counseling conducted by MMI in the average month of 2021 compared to 2020.

MMI’s HECM counseling clients continue to seek reverse mortgages for the same reasons as before the onset of the COVID-19 national emergency, but MMI has experienced an increase in clients seeking a reverse mortgage to supplement their income following job loss or income reduction. This aligns with the experiences of seniors throughout the country; an analysis by AARP shows that senior populations are more vulnerable to job loss from COVID-19 than younger populations. Social distancing demands have also caused many seniors to rethink their retirement living plans, choosing to use a HECM loan to remain in their home rather than move into group-style living.

HECM clients continue to work closely with their housing counselors at MMI. In recent months, two new trends in HECM borrower counseling have emerged for MMI:

  • Accelerating to Retirement – More borrowers counseled by MMI are accelerating their retirement plans and obtaining a HECM to pay off their existing forward mortgage. Eliminating their monthly mortgage payment affords people experiencing job losses or lost income the ability to live on their retirement income alone. MMI has also identified this as one of the main reasons why housing counseling clients seek HECM mortgages.
  • Building a Financial Safety Net – Seniors counseled by MMI expressed concern about the potential for their property taxes to rise and the increasing cost of homeowner’s insurance. These concerns add to the uncertainties around the length of COVID-19’s duration and the future of the economy, causing many borrowers to tap into increased home values and their home equity to build a financial safety net.

In response to these trends, MMI has trained and certified additional HECM counselors. At the start of 2020, MMI had ten HECM counselors. By the end of the year, they added seven HECM Counselors to their team, along with four additional housing counselors to support HECM intake activity. A total of seventeen HECM Counselors from MMI are on HUD’s roster today.

For more information about MMI’s HECM counseling, visit their Reverse Mortgage Counseling and Certificates page.

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Looking for More Information on HECM Counseling?

HUD’s Office of Housing Counseling has a HECM webpage, focused on both origination and default.