Shortly after monthly statements are mailed, reverse mortgage customer service centers are inundated with borrower inquiries. The senior borrower is much more attentive to detail, will ask about anything they do not understand and will demand full explanations. Servicers rarely have to explain the servicing fee set-aside anymore, and the servicing community owes an enormous debt of gratitude to the industry professional that first thought of eliminating this very confusing item.
This inbound call volume is a surprisingly predictable trend. At Celink, the percentage of incoming calls every month is approximately 20 percent of our portfolio. In 2005, when we were servicing 5,000 loans, we received approximately 1,000 incoming calls per month. Celink now services more than 75,000 loans and can expect 15,000 incoming calls (each a separate touch-point) per month. The regularity of this trend makes staffing decisions for our Borrower Care department rather predictable.
When a borrower requires repairs from closing, a significant amount of time will be spent in education about the process and their obligations under the repair rider. Frequent phone calls and letters are exchanged between the borrower, the contractor and HUD-certified inspectors. These efforts assist the borrowers in completing their repairs and protect them from the occasional unscrupulous home improvement contractor.
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to find a remodeling company attempting to talk the borrower into additional (and possibly unneeded) repairs, nor is it uncommon for a repair invoice to come in higher than the originally quoted bid. In both of these situations, reverse servicers are responsible for working with the contractor and the borrower to resolve these issues amicably.
Moving on through the typical life-cycle of a reverse mortgage, there are numerous touch-points between the servicer and borrower. Borrowers will be required to certify residency after the first year of the loan. This should be a straightforward and simple process: Mail a letter out and get a signed certification back. But our experience shows that certifying residency can be anything but simple at times. Some borrowers will perceive the contact as an intrusion, some will react in a downright hostile manner and still others will question the validity of our request. Each of these exceptions consume considerable amounts of time: explaining the reason behind the request; reminding them of the fact that they agreed to occupancy verification during the closing process; and reiterating that it is required for their HUD insurance to remain in place.
The third and final installment will cover tax and insurance defaults, the death of a borrower and final disposition of the loan.