A bill that extends the relief provision allowing telephone and video advice for reverse mortgage transactions in the state of Massachusetts has been signed into law, changing the expiration date of this relief from July 15, 2022 to March 31, 2023. This is according to the invoice itself.
The bill was signed into law Saturday, July 16, by Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito (R), since Gov. Charlie Baker (R) has been out of state since late last week.
Reverse mortgage advice in the state of Massachusetts was allowed to progress remotely via videoconference or telephone for most of the year, but the relief allowing such measures expired again on July 15.
The Mass Odyssey.
Reverse mortgage professionals across the state working together with the Massachusetts Mortgage Bankers Association (MMBA) and the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA) were able to get another extension across the proverbial finish line, but the issue will remain a specter on the state’s reverse mortgage business until a more permanent solution is codified in state law.
Massachusetts is the only state in the nation that requires reverse mortgage counseling to be conducted face-to-face, a requirement that previously ran into safety concerns created by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Very soon after the declaration of a state of emergency following the pandemic, the House of Representatives and the State Senate passed a bill providing for a statewide moratorium on foreclosures and evictions during the COVID-19 emergency, which also had a provision for telephone or video counseling. for reverse mortgage transactions for the duration of the emergency.
“[F]from the date of entry into force of this law until the end of the COVID-19 emergency, due to the outbreak of the new coronavirus 2019, also known as COVID-19, a written attestation of ‘an adviser from a third party body that a mortgagor has received advice via synchronous real-time videoconferencing or telephone instead of in-person advice must meet the requirements of [state law]reads the text of Bill H.4647, the original measure allowing counsel relief.
Since that moment, more than two years ago, the normal course of reverse mortgage business within the state has been repeatedly threatened, with the industry requiring vigorous advocacy from interested parties.
A potentially permanent solution
While the worst of the COVID-19 emergency appears to be over, the lack of active licensed counselors in the state, combined with the need for vulnerable people to travel great distances in some cases, has created a difficult situation for Massachusetts seniors seeking a reverse mortgage.
“We experienced six years of in-person counseling only in Massachusetts, starting in 2014 until the declaration of emergency in 2020,” Harbor Mortgage Solutions partner Brett Kirkpatrick told RMD last week. “The elders were very stressed to find transportation to a place far away from them. These are all the difficulties that we have been trying to explain to the legislator for all these years.
H.1146, a bill active in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, remains a beacon of hope for industry professionals active in the state as well as its advocates at the MMBA and NRMLA. People close to the file explain to RMD that a boost is coming to enact the bill.
Earlier this year, this bill was favorably reported by the Joint Financial Service Committee. It remains to be seen whether or not the proposed bill can make it through the entire legislative process to also be sent to the governor’s office, but if it does, reverse mortgage counseling sessions would be permitted “by video.” synchronously in real time”. conference or telephone” permanently, according to the text of the bill.
“There is currently a bill pending that will extend the expiry date of telephone/video counselling,” NRMLA Chairman Steve Irwin told RMD last week. “The NRMLA, in coordination with our Board Member George Downey, has advocated, on behalf of our Massachusetts members and the seniors they serve, for the successful passage of this bill. Once we have the extension in place, it is hoped that the bill will pass successfully, which would permanently allow the consumer to choose in their delivery of HECM advice. »