Many years ago, some of the biggest banks in the nation offered reverse mortgages. Among them, Wells Fargo was one of the largest lenders in the U.S. Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) market. Today, that is no longer the case.
Wells Fargo was at one time the largest reverse mortgage lender in the country.
It was only a short time later that the company decided to close its reverse mortgage business, leading to an unexpected timeline of events:
- 2010: Wells Fargo reaches a staggering 25% market share
- 2011: Wells Fargo decides to exit the reverse mortgage business
Wells Fargo Reverse Mortgage: Pros and Cons
|Services own loans
|Sold their reverse mortgage servicing portfolio to Champion Mortgage and no longer services the loans they originated
|5,000 branches across the US
|Government actions and billion dollar fines by the CFPB have tarnished consumer trust
|Approved by HUD - Housing and Urban Development
|No longer provides reverse mortgage lending services
Wells Fargo HECM Endorsement Summary: Yearly Loan Originations and Market Share
Why did Wells Fargo stop offering reverse mortgages?
Upon the announcement that it would exit the reverse mortgage business, Wells Fargo’s executives told industry press outlet Reverse Mortgage Daily that home price unpredictability combined with HECM program restrictions made it difficult to determine whether borrowers could meet their loan obligations.
These obligations, which continue to apply to reverse mortgages today, include ongoing payment of property tax and homeowners insurance and upkeep of the property to Federal Housing Administration (FHA) standards. As part of any FHA-insured reverse mortgage loan, the borrower must maintain these obligations in order to keep the loan current.
In turn, borrowers with FHA-insured reverse mortgages are guaranteed to continue to receive their loan payments as stated in the loan contract and will never owe more to repay their reverse mortgage loan than the home is worth at the time of sale.
Market factors driving Wells Fargo’s exit from reverse mortgages:
• The housing crash in 2008 led to widespread home price uncertainty
• Wells Fargo could not predict home prices and the ability for borrowers to meet their loan obligations
• Banks at the time were focusing on core operating channels rather than ancillary businesses
Will Wells Fargo Bring Back Reverse Mortgages?
It’s anybody’s guess whether Wells Fargo will offer reverse mortgages in the future, but nothing stops the company from re-entering the HECM lending market.
While big banks are currently absent from the reverse mortgage landscape, there are many small banks that are lending actively, and many have identified reverse mortgages as a potential growth opportunity given the baby boom demographic and the influx of Americans who are ill-prepared for retirement.
- Wells Fargo used to be one of the nation’s highest-producing reverse mortgage lenders.
- The bank followed several other banks that decided to exist in the reverse mortgage space.
- Whether big banks will re-enter the market remains to be seen today.
Where to Get a Reverse Mortgage in 2024?
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 available interest rates. 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.
ARLO recommends these helpful resources:
Wells Fargo Reverse Mortgage Customer Care Number: (877) 937-9357