NRMLA annual meeting leaves its impact on the Windy CityDarryl HicksReverse Mortgages,NRMLA,Chicago,Weicher Addressing the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA) 2004 Annual Meeting in Chicago, the government's top housing official, Dr. John C. Weicher, said the average homeowner using a reverse mortgage today is somewhat younger compared to those a decade ago, and more couples are taking advantage of the program, representing a dramatic shift in demographics since the program's creation in 1990. NRMLA is pleased to announce that a record-breaking crowd of nearly 400 people attended the conference at the InterContinental Chicago, to discuss business and regulatory trends in reverse mortgage lending and network with industry peers. Key to the meeting's success was the dynamic group of speakers who volunteered their time to discuss engaging topics, ranging from the "New Science of Wealth Span Planning," to "A Daughter's Perspective on Getting Her Mother a Reverse Mortgage" and "The Power of Networking to Gain Additional Reverse Mortgage Business." Dr. Weicher, Deputy Assistant Secretary/Federal Housing Commissioner of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, commented that until a few years ago, the typical reverse mortgage borrower was a 76-year-old female. Today, the average borrower is 74 years old, and females represent 48 percent of the market compared to 57 percent in 1990, according to Weicher. Couples now account for 36 percent of all reverse mortgage transactions, compared to 30 percent in 1990. "These enlightening statistics support some of the recent trends we've been seeing, namely that a greater number of couples in their early- to mid-70s are using reverse mortgages either as a lifestyle enhancement tool or to build a standby cash reserve that they can use at their discretion to pay for future expenses," said NRMLA president Peter Bell. "This is a different profile from the 76-year-old widow who needed a reverse mortgage to supplement her daily living expenses." Weicher attributed the surging popularity of reverse mortgages to several factors, including effective marketing by lenders, strength of the housing market with steady increases in property values and record low interest rates. HECM program update During his keynote address at the NRMLA Annual Meeting, Dr. Weicher provided the following updates on proposed Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) program changes approaching within the next several months: †reduced borrower signatures required, a change anticipated to be implemented in October, †streamlined number of loan documents required, probable November implementation date, †updated IACS loan servicing system, probable May 2005 implementation date, and †proposed regulation establishing new HECM counseling standards. This includes developing protocols dictating how a counseling session must be conducted. HUD also plans to convene regular meetings with lending and counseling partners to address problems. This change will probably be implemented in 2005. NRMLA Web site expansion Also at the Annual Meeting, NRMLA's director of Internet operations, Jean Gordon, announced a split of NRMLA's Web site into two areas: one for consumers and the other as a separate business Web site for lenders and vendors. Advertising opportunities will be available on the business Web site. To help promote NRMLA's National Aging in Place Week campaign, from Sunday-Saturday, Nov. 7-13, and the new Aging In Place Council, Gordon is also developing a new site at www.ageinplace.org. The planned launch for all three Web sites was set for October. Darryl Hicks of the National Association, of Reverse Mortgage Lenders, may be reached by phone at (866) 264-4466, by e-mail via [email protected] or visit www.reversemortgage.org.