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Expert Answers on Reverse Mortgage Counseling

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Question From Jennifer L. on 12/03/2018

If I am a MLO and licensed by the state of California and have a broker, can I be a counselor for reverse mortgages? Is it a full time job I can apply for while I help my mortgage clients?

Expert Answer

Hello Jennifer,

Many counselors work their own hours, so it can be a full or part-time endeavor for them, but it sounds like you might be saying that you want to be a Licensed Loan Officer and counsel your clients.  This is a different issue altogether than just full or part-time and not allowed by HUD.  HUD will not even allow originators to select or steer specific counselors to borrowers making their system one that requires originators to give borrowers a list of counselors from which they can choose which must include nationwide and local counselors for each borrower. 

HUD wants the counseling process to be an independent one so that borrowers are free to receive information and ask questions of a knowledgeable individual who is not in any way interested in supplying the borrower a loan. 

If the process allowed originators to provide the only counseling to their customers, HUD feels that the borrowers would not receive a completely unbiased view of the loan and its ramifications since the individual doing both the origination and the counseling may have competing interests.  Therefore, HUD requires counseling from a HUD approved agency in the first place rather than just allowing originators to certify that they counseled their clients.

To become a HUD-approved counselor, an individual must be trained, tested, pass background checks.  Furthermore, they must work for an approved agency to be placed on the HUD roster.  Since I am not 100% sure of your question and there are a couple ways to read it, I want to also answer the best I can if you were just stating that you wanted to train to be a counselor while still being a licensed MLO.  Because I think that would also depend on what your goal would be (originate loans, counsel or try to do both). 

If you are interested in reviewing the HUD process to become a HUD Certified Counselor, you can find it on HUD’s website here.  But HUD does not even mention full-time, part-time or secondary employment once you become a counselor, only the requirements for becoming a HECM Certified Counselor.  I would suggest that you contact an approved counseling agency and ask them what their requirements are. 

After all, if your goal is to work with reverse mortgage borrowers that are not your own, you can’t even get the approval with HUD without being employed by an approved agency.  It would seem that would be the best place to start.

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Question From Mike Davis on 12/02/2018

Hello, My mother was given a reverse mortgage in 2009 without any required counseling first. Does this still make it qualify as a legit reverse mortgage? Thanks.

Expert Answer

Hello Mike,

I would suggest you contact the servicer and ask for a copy of the counseling certificate.  I would be willing to bet that mom received the counseling and doesn’t remember it and may not have kept a copy of her certificate but did get it. 

Without the required counseling, not only are lenders not supposed to close the loan, but HUD will not insure it either.  It would be extremely unlikely that the lender never required it and then almost impossible for a lender to have the loan insured without it.  Contact the servicer with mom on the phone to grant authorization and request a copy from her file and see what they say.

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Question From Pam F. on 10/18/2018

Can a person get council from a reverse mortgage counselor the very first day they contact them?

Expert Answer

Hi Pam,

Getting back to what we discussed earlier, that is not uncommon in this market.  If one counselor tells you that they cannot help you for several days and that does not work for your schedule, tell them no thanks and call another!  I am sure you can find someone who can accommodate your needs.

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Question From Pam F. on 10/18/2018

Once you call a reverse mortgage counselor how long does it take for them to call you back to council you?

Expert Answer

Hi Pam,

Most of the counselors are not really busy right now and most are calling back within a few hours if not later the same day.  If you are not receiving this kind of service, you may want to consider calling another agency.  If you plan to do the counseling by telephone, it doesn’t make any difference where the counselor is located as almost all the calls are toll-free anyway.

If one agency or counselor is not able to meet your time requirements or give you the service by scheduling an appointment that is convenient for you, I would advise you to call the next company on the list and keep going until you find one that will.

Many borrowers who like to stay up late or are very early risers often find they can schedule appointments that are more convenient for them on the opposite coast with the time changes.  If the counselor is not back to you within just a short while, there is no reason to keep waiting, especially now that they are not experiencing huge volumes. Acces the counseling roster here

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Question From Pam on 7/24/2018

Are the lender of a reverse mortgage and the counselor supposed to converse with each other? Is it uncommon for them to know each other ?

Expert Answer

Hello Pam,

The reverse mortgage industry is not extremely large so it is not uncommon for lenders and counselors to cross paths while working with mutual borrowers from time to time – but that is typically only by email, not in person.  We see that our borrowers wind up using the same counseling companies from time to time and the same counselors every so often but it is very rare that we actually talk to the counselors, this interaction simply isn’t required most of the time. 

HUD does not allow lenders to steer borrowers to specific counseling companies.  That is why we give borrowers a list of 10 – 15 counselors from which to choose that are supplied by the computer software.  At least 5 of the counseling companies are nationwide companies chosen by HUD and then the computer tries to pick at least 5 companies based on proximity as determined by the zip code.  Then each lender identifies about 5 companies who have proven themselves to be strong service providers and borrowers have an opportunity to choose from the list provided or they can go onto the HUD website and choose anyone they wish as long as the company/counselor is approved by HUD.

We typically have very little interaction with the actual counselor.  Most of the time, if the counselor contacts the lender at all it is only with an email and then just to request information to make sure the borrower has received all the documents required or to get a copy of said documents.  If the borrower requests it, the counselor can email a copy of the counseling certificate to the lender which will allow them to print it and send with the loan package for signature so the borrower does not have to wait for mail times but again, the counselor in that case did not discuss anything with the lender and would only send the certificate with the borrower’s approval. 

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Question From Pam on 6/20/2018

My mother and father took out a reverse mortgage on june 9th 2010. How many minutes should they have been counseled. My mom was 83 father 77

Expert Answer

Hello Pam,

HUD has changed their counseling requirements over the years and I was able to find their protocol training from September of 2010 but I don’t know if there was a change that prompted this printing from June of that same year.  But even in the September materials, HUD lays out a number of duties with which they charge the counselor but they do not specify a “minimum time” for which the borrowers must attend the counseling.  Counselors themselves had to attend HUD training and become certified to be able to conduct the counseling and were charged with knowing the borrowers circumstances and asking the borrowers questions to be certain that the borrowers understood the program.  I cannot speak for all counselors we have had counselors contact us to let us know that in their estimation, the borrowers were unable to comprehend the program and would not issue a certificate. 

To speak more directly to the question regarding time, it was pretty standard that a session usually ran anywhere from 45 minutes to well over 3 or 4 hours in some instances depending on the counselor and the borrowers.  The level of comprehension, the number of questions and how well the counselor was able to communicate with the borrowers all contributed to the amount of time required for the session.  Some borrowers were able to comprehend extremely well at the ages you mention and some were not able to understand the basic concept of the program at 62 so the age of your parents would not be as big a factor as their ability to understand what the counselor was telling them.  The counselor would have been asking questions as the session proceeds to “test” them of their level of comprehension and lenders are not allowed to be involved in the counseling process.

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Question From Julie W. on 5/26/2018

Hi I will be 62 in Oct can I start the paper work for the review mortgage? Thank you

Expert Answer

Hi Julie,

HUD allows you to begin your application 60 days prior to your 62nd birthday.  You can do the counseling any time but it is only valid for 6 months so you would not want to complete it too soon or you would have to repeat the course.

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Question From Rose V. on 12/28/2017

How long does the reverse mortgage counseling take?

Expert Answer

The protocol states that the reverse mortgage counseling session should last about an hour as they go over the programs, what happens when you pass and your financial picture to be sure that even with the reverse mortgage you are still not placing yourself in a bad position (after all, if even with the reverse mortgage you cannot achieve the goal of being able to live in your home comfortably for the rest of your life, it is probably not the best option).  However, I have known people who finished the counseling more quickly because of the extensive research they had done before they ever took the counseling and their high level of familiarity with the program and its features, and I had one customer who told me that they spent 3 ½ hours with the counselor! 

The borrowers in the case of the very long session told me that they sought their counseling before anything else and had no basis of knowledge when they first went in.  They were not even familiar with the basic concepts of a reverse mortgage and knew none of the terms when they went for counseling but wanted to talk first with someone who, in their words, “would teach them about the loan but would not try to sell them one”.  They told me that in retrospect, they would not recommend that course of action and would do more research before the counseling session if they had it to do all over again, but you can get your counseling before you have even spoken with a lender if you so choose.  The actual session time will depend a lot on you and your knowledge of the program before you start the session.

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Question From Steve on 11/21/2017

I understand that counseling is required before entering into a reverse mortgage agreement? In what year did that become required? Is it a legal lien if the counseling never was received?

Expert Answer

Hi Steve,

HUD teamed up with AARP in 2001 to train and establish a counseling protocol for all borrowers.  The counseling requirement at that time was not a requirement in order to make the lien a “legal” lien, but one that HUD required in order to insure the loan.  Since that time, HUD implemented rules that allowed borrowers to waive counseling requirements in some instances (for example, if they were refinancing an existing reverse mortgage on which they had received counseling within the previous 5 years and for which the borrower received certain concrete benefits with the new loan).  Some states now require counseling as a part of their state laws so even in the instances where HUD would allow the borrower to waive the counseling requirement, the counseling would need to be completed for that loan in that state regardless of prior counseling. 

However, HUD will not insure the loan if the borrowers did not receive reverse mortgage counseling, either at the time of the loan’s origination or at some point in the previous 5 years on a previous HUD HECM loan if the current loan was a refinance of an existing reverse mortgage.  Proprietary or private reverse mortgage programs are not insured by HUD and the counseling protocol of these programs may be different.

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Question From Patrick P. on 4/30/2016

After receiving counseling can I change my mind and cancel my reverse application?

Expert Answer

Hi Patrick,

You absolutely can! In fact, you have the right to cancel the transaction all the way up until the time the loan closes. But there is no reason you should go to the expense of ordering an appraisal if you know you don't want to proceed. The lender cannot charge you a cancellation fee if you know this is not the right loan for you I would recommend that you cancel this point in time. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

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Question From Degolia on 9/30/2012

We called a counselor to make an appointment and they said that we were supposed to get a "packet" from you all. Do you know what they are talking about and can we access online and if so how? Thank you, Degolia

Expert Answer

Hi Degolia,

The counselor is "kind of right".  Borrowers do not need to contact a lender for anything prior to a session with a counselor and in fact, many borrowers choose to talk to a counselor before they even choose a lender.  However, if you do know who your lender is going to be, then the counselors want to see the Loan Comparison Page, the Amortization Schedule and the Total All Loan Costs (TALC) from the proposal that you received so that they can go over the actual numbers you received.  If you have never gotten these items, then they have to send them to you in the mail before they will even schedule the appointment and it slows down the process.

There are a number of ways to get the necessary documents to the counselor.  Here at All Reverse Mortgage, we set up a website and when we prepare a proposal for our customers we also give you the website address and an access code for you to give to your counselor.  They can then log on to the website and by using the code you supply to them, they can pull the forms they need right off their computer.  For those few who cannot access external websites, we also offer to have them contact us directly and we can send them the forms they need so as not to delay your appointment.

So if you have already obtained a proposal from us, you have the forms they require in the information we sent to you.  You can either give them the counseling access code and website address, you can just forward the proposal to the counselor directly from your computer and the forms they require are included, or you can have them contact us and we will be happy to help by sending them the specific forms listed above that they require.

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