Tim Hemmen Reverses the Notion He “Sells” Reverse Mortgages
His goal, he says, is to educate, not advocate
By Ed Goldman
Tim Hemmen—a reverse-mortgage loan broker, longtime friend and even onetime student of mine at Sacramento State University—is mock-bemoaning a contract that got away from him.
At the last moment, the 94-year-old woman he’d been working with decided to go with the loan company for which actor Tom Selleck, the original “Magnum, P.I.” and star of NBC’s Boston cops show ”Blue Bloods” has been a paid spokesman (AAG). “I tried to explain that if she signed with the other company, Tom Selleck wouldn’t be coming by to help see her through the process. But I would. I’d even hold her hand.”
(To explain those spending habits: If you watch a video about personal finance management, and it features two people who made drastically different choices, I’d be the guy wearing the barrel by the conclusion. And whenever the camera cut to me, the musical score would feature a bassoon’s mocking wah-wah-wah sound.)
If you stay in your home for the rest of your life (which I didn’t do), and even spend all the dough (which, as we’ve learned, I did do), after you die the mortgage holder comes forward to claim the money from the presumed sale of your home. If you’ve left the home to your kids or pet puffin, they can remain in the home but they have to pay back the loan. A cautionary note here: Puffins are notorious deadbeats when it comes to repaying money. Especially gambling debts.)
Hemmen says that “one of the mantras we have” at American Pacific Reverse Mortgage Group “is never to sell a reverse mortgage, but to educate and let the borrowers make the decision for themselves. We consider ourselves advocates for seniors. We’re here to help if our solution is right. We also watch for elder abuse and report it.”
I tell Hemmen, whom I’m fond of, that no matter what he calls it, a sales pitch is a sales pitch. With a smile, he says, “Educating is selling—everybody sells something—and so is promotion. But for us, the word ‘sell’ isn’t spoken in any part of our work. Reverse Mortgages can trigger a negative connotation for some. If I sold, quote unquote, a reverse mortgage using coercive language and tactics, I would be out of business.”
“Yesterday, after speaking with a potential borrower for several months, she completed the counseling for the reverse mortgage,” Hemmen says. “What she realized after doing the counseling is that she didn’t want to age in place in her home. She wants to downsize to a manufactured home in Petaluma.
“All I said is, ‘Alice, that’s great that the counseling helped you get clarity on what you really want. If you change your mind, I’d be glad to help you in the future.’ This was supporting her decision and leaving it right there. If she changes her mind, great, but there’s no follow-up call. This is a drastic turn from my years of selling telecommunications, where persistence was a big part of the business.”
Hemmen, 63, has been with his wife, Angela Gitt, an acknowledged superstar Realtor in the Sacramento region, since 1990. They have two daughters, Sarah, 26 and Maddie, 24, and when the girls are home from college, their Facebook posts always show them biking, hiking or finding obscure wineries to explore. But rarely watching anything on TV that stars Tom Selleck.