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Leveraging Housing Wealth with Jumbo Reverse Mortgages During Economic Uncertainty

As in the case with most recessions, the COVID-19 global pandemic has investors and businesses looking to “leverage.” Simply put, this is the concept of using various financial instruments or borrowed capital to multiply the potential return.

My team recently has seen a surge of interest from business executives and CEOs in jumbo reverse mortgages. Many of these clients have been referred to us by financial advisers seeking a buffer from the economic volatility and loss of income their clients are now facing. 

Specifically designed for homeowners 60+ with higher home values, jumbo reverse loans offer the following advantages versus traditional HECM reverse mortgages:
  • Larger Lending Limits – While traditional reverse mortgages limit borrowers with a lending limit of $765,600, proprietary and jumbo reverse mortgages allow loan amounts up to $4 million. The exact amount you can borrow depends on the value of your home, your age, interest rates and how much you currently owe on the home.
  • Receive Funds Right Away – When you take out proprietary or jumbo reverse mortgages, you can select to receive the full proceeds of the loans right away. It’s up to you to make the funds last throughout your retirement. By contrast, traditional reverse mortgages don’t allow you to take all the proceeds at once. Full proceeds from traditional reverse mortgage funds are spread out over a one-year period. 
  • No FHA Approval Required – Reverse mortgages guaranteed by the FHA typically will have higher up-front fees versus the proprietary or jumbo options.
  • Lower Fees – Proprietary and jumbo reverse mortgages do not require upfront mortgage insurance (MIP) resulting in a lower cost option for qualified borrowers. ​
Typically, those interested in jumbo reverse mortgages are high net worth individuals or families that understand the benefits of leveraging housing wealth. Homeowners age 60+ have amassed a record of $7.23 trillion in untapped housing wealth as of Q1 2020, according to data provided by the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA) in conjunction with data analytics firm RiskSpan. Particularly in times of uncertainty or periods of time where income and/or cash flow is impacted, understanding the concept of leverage can make all the difference in the survivability of one’s financial wellbeing.  
Our most recent jumbo reverse mortgage client is the perfect example of using leverage. This particular couple has a net worth of $7 million with income derived from a variety of sources. Their businesses are in several of the industries that had to shut down per government mandates. Most of their income has been completely put on pause for the foreseeable future. 

Yet, as with all business owners, they still must meet payroll, pay outside vendors and attempt to keep the businesses afloat. They do have investment accounts which could be tapped into in order to bridge the income gap; however, in times of market anxiety, increasing the withdrawal rate on retirement accounts could amplify sequence of return risk and may result in long-term devastating effects on the overall portfolio.

This client owns a home valued at $4.5 million – free and clear of a mortgage balance. With a jumbo reverse mortgage, we were able to convert roughly $2 million of this home equity making it available on demand. There was even an option to put some of the funds into a line of credit ready and available for future use. The couple still owns the home and can choose to pay down or pay back the loan at any time. Or they may defer payback until both parties permanently leave the home.

Like traditional government insured HECM reverse mortgages, jumbo reverse mortgages are non-recourse loans. This means that neither the borrowers nor the heirs are personally liable for any amount of the mortgage that exceeds the value of your home when the loan is repaid

Another plus is that jumbo reverse mortgages can pay off and replace traditional mortgage loans, reducing the burden of a mandatory monthly payment and resulting in immediate savings — especially helpful in today’s uncertain times. They also may replace an existing traditional reverse mortgage if there is a reasonable benefit to the borrower.

With any mortgage, homeowners are required to pay property taxes, pay homeowners insurance and maintain the home. For many homeowners age 60+ sitting on (or in for that matter) hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in home equity, a jumbo reverse mortgage may be a financial tool worth considering. 

Leveraging amplifies possible returns, just like a lever can be used to amplify one’s strength when moving a heavy weight. Sometimes it takes strategically moving various levers around at optimal times in order to survive and ultimately thrive. Education is paramount and it is important to understand the various options –
Particularly in these challenging times.
This article originally appeared in the April 2020 Edition of Senior Living News

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Joseph Susserman

With 10+ years of experience, Joe Susserman is a top-level producer with a proven track record of success in the reverse mortgage space.

At The Steven J. Sless Group of PRMI, Joe educates homeowners to determine if a reverse mortgage will meet their financial goals. He then helps clients to navigate through all steps of the loan process.

“I enjoy assisting seniors to help them live a better retirement,” said Susserman, who has three sons and two grandchildren. Joe says, “I aim to provide the highest level of customer service and be responsive to all of my clients’ needs.”

JOSEPH SUSSERMAN: NMLS 986529. Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing & Regulation Commissioner of Financial Regulation #5511.

Steven J. Sless, CLTC®

Steven J. Sless has become regarded as the “go-to housing wealth source” by various media outlets. Bringing nearly 20 years of mortgage industry experience, he founded The Steven J. Sless Group of PRMI, the lender’s national division dealing exclusively with reverse mortgages.

A powerful speaker and communicator, Steven regularly gives seminars and learning workshops for homeowners 60+, their family and trusted advisors. Exploring the nuts and bolts of reverse mortgages, Steven presents the facts, dispels common myths and misperceptions, and answers questions so his audiences can make informed decisions and take control of their retirement.

In 2019, Steven earned the CLTC®: Certified Long-Term Care professional designation, demonstrating that he also has acquired the critical tools necessary to discuss the subject of longevity and its acute consequences on a client’s family – financially, physically and emotionally – years down the road.

“Possessing knowledge of long-term care and what decisions must be made before care is needed will allow me to better serve the needs of my clients,” Steven says. “Having a deeper understanding of my clients’ needs will allow me to have a more advanced conversation with them, their family and trusted advisors.”

In addition to helping clients and educating colleagues and audiences, Steven loves spending time with his wife and two young daughters. He also is an avid fan of the Baltimore Ravens and Orioles, and he enjoys playing golf and cooking.

Steven J. Sless NMLS# 298581 . Licensed by the Delaware State Bank Commissioner to engage in business in Delaware 5644 expires on 12/31/2021. Georgia Residential Mortgage Licensee. Georgia Department of Banking and Finance 6521. Indiana-Department of Financial Institutions Consumer Credit Division, First Lien License 11069 Secretary of State Securities Commission Second Lien License 103936. C.P.D. Reg. No.-19-07981

Brandy Nickoles

Brandy Nickoles has over 17 years of experience in the mortgage industry, dedicating the last 8 years solely to reverse mortgages. With great knowledge of the reverse mortgage product, she is committed to making sure our borrowers have a seamless experience.

Instrumental in creating infrastructure from file setup through loan funding, Brandy manages the loan pipeline. This includes everything from analyzing documentation and loan scenarios, to creating and implementing process/procedures, and coordinating with lenders.

Brandy also trains and oversees team members to ensure tasks are completed timely and efficiently. Having worked with Brandy for nearly a decade, Steven and Andrew can attest that her attention to detail and organization is top notch.


The Steven. J. Sless Group is fully operational and committed to expediting loans for our clients during these unprecedented times.

We have implemented the following measures to ensure the safety of our team members, strategic partners and valued customers:

  • Virtual meetings
  • Electronic applications and signatures
  • Contactless home appraisals
  • In-person meetings with social distancing and other necessary precautions


Call us at 410-814-7575 or schedule an appointment. (link )

Andrew S. Parker

Andrew Parker began his career in the mortgage industry in 1999 and transitioned to focusing solely on reverse mortgages in 2008. Through the years, Andrew has built a stellar reputation in scaling mortgage teams and overseeing products and systems training.

He has worked in tandem with Steven for the past 18 years and now oversees day-to-day production operations at the Steven J. Sless Group. In addition to managing loan originators and coordinators, providing product training and helping them to structure loan scenarios, Andrew works with credit desks to get clients approved.  He also navigates underwriting approvals.

Andrew is a big reason why The Steven J. Sless Group get clients approved for loans that other lenders don’t, and why the team closes loans much quicker than the industry average.  He has consistently forged strong bonds with and earned the trust of clients and strategic partners.

Robert Sklar

With 10+ years of mortgage industry experience, Robert Sklar educates clients about reverse mortgage loans and the strategy of incorporating housing wealth in retirement planning.

In doing so, he structures loan scenarios based on clients’ specific goals and needs. He also reworks loans to new terms and identifies additional conditions as needed to insure a viable credit decision. And he analyzes credit reports, property appraisals, titles and associated documentation.

Passionate about making a profound impact in the lives of his clients and others, the Hofstra University graduate has become a trusted resource of information and education in and around Baltimore.

ROBERT SKLAR: NMLS 1161107. Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation Commissioner of Financial Regulation #5511.

Sharon Birdow

Bringing 30 years mortgage industry experience, Sharon Birdow is adored by her clients and colleagues alike.

The West Chester University graduate, wife and mother of four has served as branch partner and originating loan officer, branch manager and senior mortgage loan officer. She was named Loan Originator of the Year in Volume in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

At The Steven J. Sless Group of PRMI, Sharon helps clients 60+, their families and trusted advisors to obtain reverse mortgage loans. She regularly consults with financial professionals on the benefits an HECM provides and how to utilize this tool in individual retirement planning.

“It’s my privilege to educate and empower older Americans about the versatility of reverse mortgages,” Sharon says. “I love helping our clients achieve financial independence and peace of mind in their golden years.”

SHARON BIRDOW. NMLS#176375 // GA MLO # 47859. California – Licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) under the California Residential Mortgage Lending Act 4130403. A copy of our Privacy Policy and Notice is accessible by going to Primary Residential Mortgage’s website and clicking on the “Privacy Policy” link located at the bottom of the page. – District of Columbia-Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking Department MLB3094. Distrito de Columbia-Florida Office of Financial Regulation MLD646. Oficina de Regulación Financiera de Florida MLD646. Georgia Residential Mortgage Licensee. Georgia Department of Banking and Finance 6521. Indiana-Department of Financial Institutions Consumer Credit Division, First Lien License 11069 Secretary of State Securities Commission Second Lien License 103936. C.P.D. Reg. No.-19-07981 Indiana-Departamento de Instituciones Financieras, División de Crédito al Consumidor, Licencia de primer grado 11069, Secretaría de Estado, Comisión de Valores, Licencia de segundo grado 103936. C.P.D. Reg. No.-19-07981

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Justin Zornman

Fifteen-year customer relations and hospitality management veteran, Justin Zornman is the group’s first remote hire.

Based out of Kalamazoo, MI, he is responsible for helping clients to navigate the loan process. He also assists loan originators and aids the processing team to expedite loan closings.

A University of New Orleans graduate, Justin is currently completing his studies to pass the mortgage originators exam, get licensed and, one day, open a Michigan branch for the group.

“I am honored to ease the way for homeowners, 60+ to secure a better retirement,” Justin says. “I look forward to ultimately establishing The Steven J. Sless Group of PRMI as the market leader in Michigan.”

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