June 25 - The Federal Housing Administration published a Mortgagee Letter reminding lenders participating in the agency’s Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) Program to make certain senior borrowers are fully informed of all their options when applying for reverse mortgages. FHA’s Mortgagee Letter also reinforces the agency’s prohibition against misleading or deceptive advertising and that this prohibition extends to misleading or deceptive descriptions of the HECM program.
FHA’s guidance is intended to protect HECM borrowers from misleading advertising and presentations that appear to limit their options rather than informing them of the full range of available HECM offerings.
“Senior borrowers deserve freedom of choice when considering whether a reverse mortgage is appropriate for them,” said FHA Commissioner Carol Galante. “This guidance is intended to make sure lenders know we’re keeping a watchful eye on their marketing and advertising practices that might steer borrowers toward reverse mortgage options that limit their available choices.”
FHA-approved lenders are required to explain in clear, consistent language all requirements and features of the HECM program and may not mislead or otherwise cause a senior borrower to believe that the HECM product contains any features or limitations that are inconsistent with FHA’s requirements. For example, the mortgagee must explain:
Lenders are prohibited from using any misleading or misrepresentative advertising or marketing materials in connection with the HECM program or from making any statement or representation that could mislead a mortgagor as to his or her rights under a HECM. In addition, mortgagees may not state or imply that as a result of their approval to participate in FHA programs that any of their products have been endorsed by FHA or HUD. All advertisements or marketing materials used in connection with the HECM program must include a prominently displayed disclaimer that clearly informs the public that such materials are not from HUD or FHA and the document was not approved by the Department or Government Agency.