Lender Name: One Reverse Mortgage
Headquarters: San Diego, California
States licensed: All 50, but actively operates in 47 (excludes Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia).
Company leadership: Gregg Smith, President and CEO. Dave Smith, Regional Vice President.
Product offerings: HECM, “Home Equity Loan Optimizer” (HELO, proprietary)
Lender ranking: One Reverse Mortgage is the fifth-highest ranked reverse mortgage lender by loan volume based on September 2019 data.
Brief history: Founded in 2001 as part of One Mortgage Network, One Reverse prides itself on having become one of the largest retail reverse mortgage lending operations in the nation. In early 2008, the One Mortgage Network was acquired by national mortgage company Quicken Loans, increasing the resources and scope of One Reverse Mortgage considerably.
With Quicken Loans having emerged as the nation’s leading online mortgage lender at the time of the acquisition, leveraging of the brand, marketing apparatus and technology infrastructure became key to helping One Reverse expand its reach in offering Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) loans. In terms of its product catalog, One Reverse offers adjustable-rate and fixed-rate reverse mortgages, as well as HECM for Purchase (H4P) in which a reverse mortgage is used to finance the purchase of a new home.
One Reverse evolved its reverse mortgage product catalog further in mid-2018 when it introduced the “Home Equity Loan Optimizer” (HELO), its first proprietary reverse mortgage product that is not bound by many of the regulations and restrictions which govern traditional HECM loans. HELO can offer up to $4 million in loan proceeds giving more affluent borrowers with higher home values an option to enter the reverse mortgage space, a loan limit which is significantly higher than the ceiling available with a HECM loan.
HELO, like many other proprietary reverse mortgage loans does mirror some of that product’s features, including acting as a non-recourse loan and being available to condominium units that may not be FHA-approved. Unlike FHA-backed HECMs, HELO has no inherent property restrictions and may allow owners of homes with unique features (like solar panels) and condo units (which are notoriously difficult to get FHA-approved) to avail themselves of a reverse mortgage option.
HELO also allows a full draw of the loan proceeds at closing for those borrowers who wish to have full access to the complete amount of the loan.
In its consumer-facing promotional materials, One Reverse touts a dedication to customer service as a major differentiating factor between it and other reverse mortgage lenders. It backs up that commitment to a point by touting its A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB), where it has been an accredited organization since late 2008.
One Reverse has been identified as having an in-depth customer service philosophy, one in which borrowers or stakeholders looking for some additional “hand-holding” through the reverse mortgage process will be able to find it with One Reverse. Reverse mortgage loan officers have a tendency to be more consultative than their traditional mortgage counterparts, but more advising for a senior may be a positive feature depending on the individual borrower being served.
In the past,One Reverse used a national television marketing campaign, employing a celebrity spokesman to communicate the benefits of the reverse mortgage product for prospective senior borrowers. While its competitor AAG innovated the concept of using a celebrity to connect with older Americans about unlocking the equity in their homes, One Reverse enjoyed its own success by hiring actor Henry Winkler to star in a series of ads for the company over a nearly decade-long period.
Winkler, who was originally known for playing the role of badboy Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli in the 1970s TV sitcom Happy Days, found a bit of a career resurgence in the late 1990s and early 2000s and fashioned a new niche for himself as an affable, sometimes blundering character on a few different TV series. Connecting with younger audiences in the Adam Sandler-starring vehicle The Waterboy, Winkler continued finding success in films like Holes along with a memorable recurring guest appearance on the cult hit TV series Arrested Development as bumbling Bluth family attorney Barry Zuckerkorn.
Winkler became the spokesman for One Reverse in 2011, and consistently appeared in a host of reverse mortgage commercials on a regular basis for the next six years. His role has since been eliminated after he signed on for a regular role on the critically-acclaimed HBO series Barry starring Bill Hader. His contract for that show kept him from doing any additional promotional work, a One Reverse marketing executive shared with industry publication Reverse Mortgage Daily in 2017.
One Reverse also employed actress Barbara Eden for at least one commercial, primarily known for her starring role on the I Dream of Jeannie sitcom during the 1960s. This was notable since Eden is one of the only women to have been a part of such a marketing endeavor, as the industry primarily employs older men as spokespeople.
After Winkler’s exit as the company’s primary spokesperson, most new One Reverse ads primarily forego the use of a single personality to represent its reverse mortgage offerings. Its activity seems to be working since as of late 2019, One Reverse is still a top five reverse mortgage lender in the United States based on endorsement volume.