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Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation
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Lender Name: Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation

Headquarters: Madison, Wisconsin

States licensed: 50, plus the District of Columbia

Company leadership: Founder and CEO Steve Jacobson

Product offerings: HECM, proprietary reverse mortgages

Lender ranking: #9 based on HECM endorsement data compiled in January 2020

Brief history: While primarily seeing itself as a forward mortgage lender first and foremost, Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation has nonetheless grown into a force to be reckoned with in the reverse mortgage industry. Founded in April of 1996 by Steve Jacobson and given its name by one of Jacobson’s lifelong friends, Fairway grew significantly over the next five years.

By the end of 2001, the company had grown to have closed over $1 billion in annual loans, and continued to grow at a marked place over the next several years after that. By 2007, Fairway had become a mortgage broker/banker with over 100 branches spread out across 40 states.

In December of 2007, Fairway made the decision to create its own, dedicated reverse mortgage division, primarily identifying that the business segment and the demographic it aimed to serve was showing visible and projected signs of significant growth. The already-established 40-state footprint of Fairway ideally placed it to become a major player in the reverse mortgage business soon after it implemented the product into its catalog of offerings.

“In order to properly service this growing segment, we knew we'd need to establish a division that ensures consistency and compliance,” said Gary Nelson, VP of national sales at Fairway Independent Mortgage at the time the division was first created to business publication Mortgage Orb. “Our reverse mortgage division provides support and training to all of our regional offices, so that they in turn can better serve the customer.”

Standardizing the way that reverse mortgages are delivered to seniors was a primary focus of the company at the time it decided to enter the space, Nelson said.

“As baby boomers age, more and more homeowners are becoming qualified for reverse mortgages every day,” he continued. “We're establishing a program to provide standardized delivery of reverse mortgages, so obtaining a reverse mortgage will be just as consistent, convenient and straightforward as getting a standard mortgage from any Fairway location.”

Like much of the reverse mortgage industry, Fairway was impacted by structural changes to the HECM program handed down by the Federal Housing Administration in October of 2017. These included a reduction in principal limit factors (PLFs), as well as a 2018 institution of a collateral risk assessment which sometimes results in the need for a property to require a second appraisal before a reverse mortgage loan is approved. The fundamental result from these changes – which were primarily made to stabilize the HECM program within its federal insurance fund – was an industry-wide drop in loan volume to record lows.

Fairway was not spared this fate either, but it has shown a surprising amount of resiliency in bouncing back from reduced volume levels just a couple of years after the HECM program changes were introduced. Not only did the company grow its total market share in the reverse mortgage industry by over 1% between 2018 and 2019, but its reverse mortgage endorsements in that same period were up nearly 4%. This is particularly stark when compared with the wider industry, which in the same time period saw a volume loss of over 30%.

One of the reasons that the company says it has had the success it has in a generally difficult reverse mortgage climate is its dedication to borrower education, and its position as a forward mortgage lender first is key to loan originators’ ability to present reverse mortgages side-by-side with other options.

“Fairway has a unique culture. The leadership, branch managers, and many loan officers have embraced the product and it is gradually spreading throughout the organization which is hard to find in a forward mortgage company,” says Jared Gibbons, national reverse mortgage sales manager at Fairway to industry publication Reverse Mortgage Daily. “[Our] culture of doing what is right for the client helps reverse mortgages to be accepted.”

One avenue that Fairway has not significantly explored is proprietary reverse mortgages, which many other companies have seen as a potential source for growth in the wake of current and potential future changes that the HECM program could receive from FHA. While Fairway has the ability to offer proprietary reverse mortgage products, they have not yet been a major focus of the reverse mortgage division.

“We are just getting started with proprietary and it has not had a big impact [on us] yet,” Gibbons continued in the Reverse Mortgage Daily article. “But we believe it will be in the future.”

Fairway is the ninth-largest reverse mortgage lender in the nation based on January 2020 HECM endorsement data. It continues to see significant potential in the future of the reverse mortgage market primarily because of the massive amounts of home equity that seniors have access to, and many older Americans will need to look at employing their home equity in order to achieve their retirement goals. This is according to Harlan Accola, Fairway’s national director in a 2019 interview with Financial Advisor magazine.

“There is over $7.1 trillion in home equity owned by seniors over the age of 62,” Accola told the magazine. “Let’s put the size of this potential solution in context – there are currently outstanding over $1 trillion in car loans, over $1 trillion in student loans, and in excess of $800 billion in credit card balances. The truth is that using the $7 trillion in home equity must be [leveraged] in order to give baby boomers, the retirement they need and want.”

Headquarters: Madison, Wisconsin
States licensed: 50, plus the District of Columbia
Company leadership: Founder and CEO Steve Jacobson
Product offerings: HECM, proprietary reverse mortgages Lender ranking: #9 based on HECM endorsement data compiled in January 2020
Customer Reviews (47)
Vicki W, WV   July 31, 2020
We had a smooth loan process with Fairway. We closed in under a month and even changed the close date a few times, and they made sure it all worked out for us. They were thorough and on top of all the moving parts at all times. Friendly every step of the way!
Roya S, IN   July 28, 2020
I am blown away with the incredible service from Fairway in refinancing my home loan. The process was efficient, the communications were clear and prompt, and the customer service is next-level. I am so pleased with my refinanced rate and the streamlined process that Fairway provided. Thank you so much!
Eric K, WY   July 25, 2020
Fairway mortgage is the best when it comes to home buying. You must use them. You won't regret it!
James S, WA   July 24, 2020
Jim and his company worked with me even though I had less than perfect credit. They also worked with me right to the end to help minimize my needed funds to close. Also, Jim goes out of his way to help Veterans with all the various hurdles that need to be traversed to satisfy the VA. He even covered the cost of the appraisal.
Sandy A., AZ   July 17, 2020
Bethany did a fantastic job helping us through all the steps in getting a mortgage. She was very patient and helpful in the process.i couldn’t have asked for a better experience.
Jacob C, WI   July 16, 2020
We threw some hurdles into the mix that were carefully analyzed and addressed. Our questions were always answered completely. We felt like there was 100% effort put into us and if there was a way to make things work it Steve was going to find it. Offered a lot of great advice and in the end things worked out better than we could have hoped. Very very positive experience in a world where human interaction and customer service are getting harder to find.
David O, WA   July 16, 2020
I never felt alone through any part of my home purchase. As a first time home buyer, I didn’t know much about the mortgage loan application process but Alejandro and his team held my hand through it all and were always available to answer all my questions. We discussed multiple loan options and I was able to choose the option that made most sense for me to use. I am now a happy homeowner! Without a doubt, I would use Alejandro’s services again and I highly recommend them to anyone thinking of buying a home whether for the 1st time or 20th time.
Justin R, WV   July 15, 2020
Seth & his team were exceptional! We were anxious about buying our first home & had lots of questions. Seth and his team made sure that we knew they were available just about any time of day & were very thorough in making sure that we had an understanding throughout the entire process. They were all very friendly & helped put our worries at ease & made us feel confident that everything would be handled properly & timely. Thank you Seth, Laci, & Jena! We appreciate all your help & hard work!!
Tiffany A, DE   July 10, 2020
Extremely knowledgeable and professional. They made the difficult process of securing financing for our first home remarkably simple.
Andrew F, DC   July 8, 2020
Mark and his team was very communicative throughout the entire process, and worked a bit of overtime the day before my closing due to a mix up with the title companies. Mark was the loan officer for the loan on my first home 14 years ago, and I am so glad that I called him again to buy my new home. If I ever move again, I know exactly who to call for the mortgage. Thanks, Mark!
Patricia C, WI   July 7, 2020
Matthew was my Loan Officer - Matt held my hand through the entire process. He provided me options, guidance, and sound reasoning. I really appreciated his experience and knowledge! Thanks Matt!
Allison G, VT   July 5, 2020
Pamela made our first home purchase such a positive experience! She maintained constant communication and was so friendly and personable throughout the entire process. I absolutely recommend her for any home buying endeavors!
Wendi M, NY   July 3, 2020
Excellent communication, streamlined process, even with a few hiccups that were out of our control, Buzz kept me informed of the changes and did everything he needed to in order for my closing to stay on track! Buzz is always the consummate professional, but isn't afraid to share his human side too. I've used him for several purchases and will continue to do so!
Russ G, FL   July 3, 2020
Sharla and her team are great. They'll work hard for you to get you the best deal and make the process as easy as possible.
Angela R, KY   July 3, 2020
Worst customer service ever! It is sad to leave a review on a company because the loan officer (Terry ) you were assigned to cannot do his job. He never reached out to us to see if he could work with the amount we were approved for. 1 week passed so we tried to reach out to him and he never answered the calls or bothered to return our calls. I called him from a different number and guess what, he answered. I then asked if we could get a copy of the report and he said no which I can understand that some companies do that but he was very rude at how he responded. I wouldn't say not to do business with the company itself but this man is giving them a bad rep.
Joseph W, WI   July 2, 2020
Fairway is great and Michelle is the best. Clear, personable, knowledgeable, and very flexible. Would refer them to anyone.
A. Kennedy, AL   July 1, 2020
Awesome experience - this lender was quick and easy to work with and I will definitely refer family and friends! Can't go wrong with Midway!
Tanisha P, WI   June 30, 2020
Friendly. Courteous. Helpful and informative. They made a usually stressful process really pleasant. And made sure ideas well prepared for each upcoming step in the process, avoiding the usual last minute hiccups.
Dan L, NM   June 19, 2020
Carla at Fairway IMC makes the mortgage process easy! Her prompt responses, attention to detail and wealth of knowledge on financing is irreplaceable. I've used her for two purchases and plan on using her again in the future. Can't recommend highly enough!
Heather D, NM   June 19, 2020
Mike is the absolute best! We had so many questions and he walked us step by step through everything. Very, very, very patient and friendly. He definitely was looking out for our best interest the entire time. We can’t say enough great things about him!
Michael K. , VT   June 16, 2020
Garett made this process so incredibly easy, I never once felt stressed about refinancing or worried something wasn't going to get in. The initial application process was straightforward and easy to use, with a great tool for uploading documents. Once that was done, I was essentially done, as Garett took care of the rest. I would highly recommend Garett for anyone looking for a loan officer, and hope to do so in the future for friends and family.
Elia B, CT   June 12, 2020
Rodrigo and his team helped our family to the very end. Their great communication with us made everything go smoothly and Rodrigo was always there for any question we had. Thank you so much for making our dream come true, I would be recommending Fairway to my family and friends.
Dennis G, CA   June 12, 2020
If you are looking for a mortgage lender, call William and his team at Fairway! Their knowledge and communication are the best by far! When I had a question, it was usually answered with an email , before I could ask. This was an experience I recommend highly!!
Steve W., GA   June 12, 2020
We worked with Nicole last June but had to shut down the process. Nicole picked it right up this April without missing a beat and we worked through the process quickly and efficiently. I have great respect for Nicole and her team. I highly recommend Nicole!
Earl S, MD   June 5, 2020
Peter and his Team went absolutely above and beyond to make sure that me and my fiancé not only knew what was going on but completely understood the entire first time buying a Home process. After Speaking to Peter the very first time I honesty knew we were dealing with a very knowledgeable professional that put our worries to rest right away. I cannot Thank Peter and his entire team for all of the Help And Knowledge that they shared with me and my family for helping us get our beautiful first home. We not only look forward to using him again but with out a Doubt referring him to All of our Family and Friends.
Jay K, HI   June 2, 2020
Erika was an amazing loan officer. She was friendly and very knowledgeable. Easy to get ahold of through any channel. She explained things without dumbing it down, but still made it easy to understand. I would highly recommend working with her!
Celio C., WV   June 2, 2020
Marshall was professional, courteous and knowledgeable. He would send me the updated mortgage estimates and was always available over the phone to answer all my questions in detail. We did close on time and the final numbers were very close to the estimates. This was my best experience with a mortgage broker so far.
Celio C., WA   June 1, 2020
Marshall was professional, courteous and knowledgeable. He would send me the updated mortgage estimates and was always available over the phone to answer all my questions in detail. We did close on time and the final numbers were very close to the estimates. This was my best experience with a mortgage broker so far.
Betty W, IN   May 30, 2020
This company made my individual situation their careful concern. They work as a close team and always kept us informed.
Katherine C., SD   May 26, 2020
We have worked with Don and his team for over 10 years now. From purchasing our first home and through refinancing to the purchase of our new home. Now with a refinancing during this crazy time. Thank you Don and team.
Mark P, WY   May 26, 2020
Great company for your home purchasing & refinancing needs. Our go to person was Guy . He was so great to work with. He made everything pleasant and easy. Hi did everything in a very timely and professional manner. His experience in job shinned through. Any of my future needs of a Mortgage Company will definitely go to Fairway. They have also earned all my future referrals to them.
John B, WY   May 23, 2020
Tonya and her team are extraordinary. We initially worked with her on a new home purchase several years ago and were so pleased to renew our business activity with her on a refinance. She is extraordinary and a professional whom I highly recommend to anyone who wants their home loan process to be simplified and done superbly well. I congratulate Fairway on having such a fine representative and Tonya.
Teju, OR   May 22, 2020
We had a great experience purchasing our first home - very good at communicating expectations and timelines.
Matthew H, WY   May 20, 2020
The experience was great because the fairway personnel (Brittney), took the time to explain the loan figures and offered the statistics for different loan options. Furthermore, they go the extra mile to make you feel like a valued client (wellness basket). I would suggest adding a checklist for those who may do a wire transfer. Fairway has many checklists on their website during the loan creation process, and I think there would be an added benefit for clients who may do a wire transfer.
Richard H., CT   May 15, 2020
Jamie and his team were always there for me. Answering questions and providing numerous quotes, and tons of information, promptly and courteously. The service was exceptional. Right down to the last minute changes. And a great interest rate too.
Kellie B, CT   May 15, 2020
Great timely service with the utmost customer service. Very knowledgeable in their profession
Brooke K, IA   May 15, 2020
Amy was fantastic and efficient in helping with my refinance! I highly recommend her services!
Rebecca D., WV   May 5, 2020
I just would like to give everyone a heads up if your looking at buying a home in Warner Robins area, especially if you have a spouse or your just a women in general! We were referred to a local lender here at fairway mortgage company as being a close hometown company with a person that you can work with face to face... that's awesome right? I mean no over phones or internet someone genuinely there... or so we thought! Me. Ralph B from Fairway had all our paperwork ready on a home we chose but when we stopped in things we're different and I questioned them, he brushed my questions off and kept referring back to my husband and after awhile I had enough stood up and said no we will not be signing today we will be shopping around and walked out to my vehicle... a few minutes later my husband came out and agreed that we should shop around. As we are talking Mr. B came to my driver window and was repeatedly told we had to go to the home inspection we would get back to him.... he would not leave my car and kept saying just come back in and we will get these papers taken care of. My husband finally had to step in and tell him NO we need to go! After shopping around we found a much better rate and terms and texted him back to inform him of our decision to go with another company, and we received a very upsetting message back basically telling my husband I should not have a say in the matter. We are military just moving here and wanting to buy a home and settle in this area so this was a very upsetting for us. It was disrespectful and disappointing because we truly wanted to work within the local community that we would be a part of for years to come but this misogynistic company is not one I would recommend any military nor women who wants to buy a home to work with!!!!! The message contents were "it's unfortunate your not in control of your decision..." to my husband!! I give one star because his boss tried to call and apologize for his actions. Nice gesture but still does not make things right!
Angela S., WA   May 5, 2020
I am extremely sad & angry about what happened with this company. Basically I have very poor credit and I know I can't get a loan. My dad, God bless him, agreed to cosign because we're in a two-story house but will need a one story house soon because my son has a progressive debilitating illness. Anyway, Susan with this company took it upon herself to "help" us by emailing confidential details she found in my credit report and my husband's credit report to my dad. Is this even legal?? We feel exposed, violated, my folks are asking me about things from many years ago, things from my husband's life from his first marriage before he ever knew me. We know our credit reports very well, we've been focused on improving them, we did not need her pointing out our issues. She had absolutely no business giving our information to another individual. Unprofessional, unethical, hopefully illegal. She says she's very sorry but she should have known better! Do you want your parents or in-laws knowing about mistakes you made years ago? I'd never disclose private info about someone in my daily life. Go anywhere but here.
Hal, IN   May 4, 2020
Vihn has twice helped with refi. Always helpful, competent and quick with his service. Utterly reliable for moral integrity. Glad to recommend him to our closest friends.
Taraz S, WV   April 30, 2020
Dee has excellent customer service skills and is very efficient. Making the process transparent and looking out for the borrower.
Ryan S, WV   April 30, 2020
I was dead set on using my bank—a credit union—for a mortgage when buying my first home. My bank offers great rates for first time home buyers, and I've been a member for almost 40 years. I was sure no other lender could give me a better rate. On the advice of my realtor, I reached out to Jason Lawrence's team at Fairway Independent Mortgage to get a quote—and I'm so happy I did! Jason's team got me an absolutely amazing rate, and were incredibly helpful throughout the entire process—particularly Gary, who spent a lot of time explaining things to me and answering my many questions. As a first-time home buyer, I really appreciated that. Gary, Jason, and Beth worked a lot of magic behind the scenes in order to help me close on the home very quickly. I was both impressed and grateful for all their help. Seriously, these guys are the best. I'm SO happy I listened to my realtor. Thank you to the entire JL team at Fairway!
Robert S., VA   April 29, 2020
I have worked with Chris and his team with multiple transactions. Their committment to customer service is 2nd to none!! I highly recommend Chris and his team for all of your real estate mortgage needs!!!
Matthew H, KY   April 29, 2020
Fantastic job by Brad and the team at Fairway! Honest, hard working and caring staff who made my mortgage experience wonderful. Highly recommended!
Dan W., AL   April 25, 2020
Jay and his team made our dreams come true. Friendly, efficient, expedient, caring, and professional!
Lucas G, CT   April 16, 2020
Joe has done a great job for me. This is my third time using him and I could not have been happier all three times. He has done a great job. I recommend him to every one I can.
Treaver W, HI   March 30, 2020
They provided for us when nobody else would and they have a great staff.