Industry-leading reverse mortgage lender American Advisors Group (AAG) is preparing for the upcoming Veterans Day holiday in the United States by holding an event designed to communicate the potential benefits of a reverse mortgage loan specifically for seniors who are also veterans of the United States military.

Facilitated by the recent feature of AAG in Ameriforce Media’s Military Families magazine, AAG identified an opportunity to inform senior veterans about how their retirements — and some of the specific issues which affect them — could be impacted through the incorporation of a reverse mortgage loan into their retirement financing plans.

The company and an originator who is a veteran himself also spoke with RMD regarding some of the details of the senior veteran demographic that reverse mortgage loan officers should keep in mind when discussing reverse mortgage options with former servicemembers.

Senior veterans’ unique circumstances

As the United States contends with unique difficulties facing retirees and various challenges that exist in retirement financing, keeping the unique circumstances that face veterans in the forefront helps to emphasize how a reverse mortgage can uniquely benefit those who have served in the military. This is according to Robb Charles, reverse mortgage originator for AAG based in Henderson, Nev., who is a veteran of the United States Army.

“Having survived the dangers of military life myself, from wars in Southeast Asia to Iraq and Afghanistan, I know firsthand the unique difficulties that veterans are faced with,” Charles says. “Many senior veterans don’t like to ask for help and can be suspicious of products or companies that they don’t fully understand. Additionally, it’s no secret that veterans, aged 62-plus, have a tough time gaining employment, which they may need to ease their financial burdens. To that end, reverse mortgages may be the best solution to overcoming the difficult financial situations that senior veterans are faced with.”

Still, as is often the case with making most people aware of the reverse mortgage product category, it once again comes down to education.

“Until veterans are educated on the benefits of utilizing home equity, the financial situations they face may continue to worsen for many senior veteran families,” Charles says. “Loan officers need to understand the challenges that face senior veterans. AAG trains its loan officers to go through a discovery phase first and to listen to what their client needs above all else so that we can find the specific programs that fit best and provide the education needed for them, and their financial counselors, to make the right decision for their retirement.”

In terms of best practices that loan originators industry-wide can use in connecting with potential clients who are military veterans, Charles says that taking extra time to understand the unique circumstances that face veterans in addition to the pressures on most American seniors is essential for providing necessary, context-based information to them about reverse mortgages.

“Being a senior veteran myself, and having closed face-to-face reverse loans for over 15 years, I think the industry should put emphasis on education, compassion and extra patience when working with veterans,” Charles shares. “Many may be experiencing real physical disabilities and are looking for a financial solution to provide peace of mind, which can be accomplished by utilizing the benefits of home equity.”

Veteran demographics

To have a better idea of how the reverse mortgage industry could potentially serve veterans and their unique circumstances, it can be important to understand the place that they occupy in the country. According to the Housing Assistance Council Aging Veterans Report, veterans make up 9% of the total U.S. population. 13 million veterans (as of 2016) are aged 55 years or older, making up over two-thirds of the American veterans population.

Much like other demographic trends across the country, the share of veterans who are 85 years of age or older is expected to double by the year 2030. More than 60% of veterans age 65 and older have some kind of disability, potentially increasing the importance of aging in place for this segment of the population.

Activity surrounding VA loans — a $0 down mortgage program available to veterans, servicemembers and select military spouses — is also on the rise. According to data in the Aging Veterans report, 2% of all homes purchased in 2005 were with VA loans for American veterans. Less than a decade later in 2014, that figure had grown more than four times to 9%.

The event

As Veterans Day approaches, crafting a webinar about reverse mortgages for a military-centric borrower segment seemed like an appropriate move according to Shannon Robinson, VP of strategic sales and execution at AAG.

“When AmeriForce Media approached us with the opportunity to be featured in their September issue of Military Families Magazine, it felt like the right time to show our appreciation to those who have served and offer an educational webinar to our military audience,” Robinson told RMD. “Military Veterans make up a large portion (13 million) of our older generation and with the recent uncertainty of COVID-19, many of them are concerned about their retirement and the financial headwinds they could face due to the pandemic.”

Many of the potential advantages that come with the modern reverse mortgage landscape for all seniors also apply to seniors who have served in the military, and making veterans aware of those potential benefits is an important part of the presentation, Robinson says.

“Given the current low rate environment and high home values, we wanted to prepare and educate them on the opportunity of leveraging home equity as an option,” she explains. “This especially rings true for veterans as they have the option to consider a VA loan with AAG.”

Veterans Day in the United States is on Wednesday, November 11 and the AAG webinar designed for veterans is taking place on Thursday, November 12. Registration is still available, according to representatives from AAG.