live well reverse mortgage graphic

Across the reverse mortgage lender landscape, there are a variety of company types: banks and non-banks; large national lenders; and small regional ones. Over time, many large banks have exited the reverse mortgage business, while independent non-bank lenders today comprise most of the reverse mortgage volume.

Still, there are changes that take place within the lender landscape from time to time, and 2019 was a year of major change for Live Well Financial, which today is no longer in business.

Summary: 

  • Live Well Financial was among the top reverse mortgage companies by volume before closing suddenly in May 2019
  • Many Live Well staff and some of the company’s operations ultimately moved to another reverse mortgage lender called Open Mortgage
  • The company no longer originates loans, but anyone who closed a loan with Live Well should not be impacted by the exit

Live Well Reverse Mortgages Originated

YearLoansNationalMarket Share
20181,87148,3593.9%
20171,78855,3223.2%
20161,94548,9024.0%
20151,82258,0433.1%
201461251,6421.2%
20136760,0910.01%
20129054,8220.02%
201116773,1310.02%
201027979,1060.04%
2009279114,6920.02%
2008487112,1540.04%
MetLife HECM ENDORSEMENT SUMMARY REPORT BY LENDER ACTIVITY
Source: https://apps.hud.gov/pub/chums/f17fvc/hecm.cfm

Live Well’s Launch

Live Well was founded in 2005 by Michael Hild and experienced initial growth to include both call-center sales and wholesale channels. Despite reduced industry volume overall, Live Well saw some of its strongest years for sales between 2015 and 2018, when it closed close to 2,000 loans annually. The company was also an active issuer of reverse mortgage-backed securities, known as HMBS (HECM-backed mortgage securities).

Live Well: a brief history

  • 2005 — Live Well is founded by Michael Hild, based in Richmond, Virginia
  • 2012 — Live Well gets approval to issue Ginnie Mae securities
  • 2018 — The company sells its reverse mortgage servicing portfolio to Reverse Mortgage Funding
  • 2019 — Live Well suddenly closes

What led Live Well to close?

closure message

The details of Live Well’s closure are somewhat unknown. Reports point to a substantial loan that Live Well took out from a commercial bank and a subsequent lawsuit that the bank filed against Live Well to seek repayment.

Initial reports that the company was closing were confirmed when the company posted a message to its website in early May indicating it would no longer be funding loans.

Employees of the company who spoke to industry press indicated they were not made aware of the closure until it was taking place, and some employees even filed a class action lawsuit in Virginia against the company for the nature of its unexpected closure and for not providing notice as required by law.

The follow up to Live Well’s closure: Open Mortgage takes action

In the weeks following Live Well’s closing, another reverse mortgage lender took action to provide somewhat of a silver lining for the company. Open Mortgage announced in late May that it would be hiring roughly 50 former Live Well employees to work for the Austin, Texas-based company.

It’s also important to note that any borrowers who took out reverse mortgages with Live Well should not be impacted by the change. Those borrowers with existing loans should have continued service from their servicer.

Where to get a reverse mortgage

There are many active lenders in the reverse mortgage space today — including both banks and non-bank lenders — as well as brokers who can help prospective borrowers navigate the different loan options and interest rates that are available. A good place to begin is gathering a few pieces of information including your age (and the age of your spouse, if you are married), and your home address so that a reverse mortgage calculator can give a rough estimate of the amount you may be able to borrow. Visit ARLO, the All Reverse Loan Optimizer, to help you get started.