Thom is a CPA. He and his wife Lynn operated their accounting business out of their big, beautiful home for over 40 years. 3 years ago, Thom was visiting with me about the appraisal we received while refinancing his $356,000 loan balance into another lower rate Conventional mortgage.
Thom was still working not because he wanted to, but rather because he needed to. He and his wife had a large mortgage and quite a bit of credit card and medical debts that had accumulated due to some health issues. By lowering their interest rate and spreading the debt back over 30 years, they were going to save about $400 per month with a new Conventional loan. They sorely needed that extra cash in their back pockets!
At that time, I managed the offices for one of the largest Conventional lenders in the country. I had been working with this company with the ultimate goal of building a Reverse Mortgage division for them. So, naturally, during my discussion about his $725,000 appraised value, I told Thom that he may want to consider a HECM Reverse Mortgage as another option. At which point, he just scowled at me.
At 70, Thom was a large man with an excellent financial mind who REALLY knew how to scowl. Then he huffed and told me (loudly) that under no circumstance would he be interested in a Reverse Mortgage. Based on his reaction, I could tell that he had some major misunderstandings about the program, and I said as much. I told him that I wanted 5 minutes where I get to talk about the program but during my allotted time, he wasn’t allowed to interrupt me. At the end of my 5 minutes THEN he could tell me that he didn’t like the program and I’d proceed with the Conventional loan that I was already working on. He agreed and I got my 5 minutes.
TWO hours and 5 minutes later, he left my office with a spring in his step and a smile on his face. He finally understood the HECM. I never saw him scowl or huff at me again. Between his mortgage balance and other debt obligations, I was able to remove a $401,000 gorilla off his back. That was one BIG gorilla!
While I had converted Thom, unfortunately his wife, Lynn, was not to be swayed by him that evening. Thom called me the next day and told me to proceed with the Conventional refi. True to my word, since I was given my 5 minutes (and then some) and they decided to not do the Reverse, I proceeded to complete the Conventional refinance and I never uttered the word “Reverse Mortgage” to him again.
A few weeks later, Thom, Lynn and I were at the Title company and we closed the Conventional refinance at the lower rate according to the original plan. The loan documents were signed and they seemed happy.
Any time a refinance loan closes, there is a 3-Day Right of Rescission period, where a homeowner can cancel the transaction. No harm; no foul. On the 3rd day, Thom swung by my office to tell me that he was exercising his Right to Rescind and that Lynn agreed to do the Reverse Mortgage. This was my opportunity to scowl and huff at him! I did scowl but wasn’t successful at concealing my smile for very long. Lynn was with him so we sat down and I gave her the same education that I had already given him a few weeks earlier. She understood everything I told her. She understood that we could pay off her current mortgage and eliminate a $3,165 monthly P&I payment. She understood that we’d also eliminate more than $45,000 of credit card debt and the payment that went along with it. But she never really got excited and told me that if it were her decision, she would not do the Reverse Mortgage. I told her that I could easily enough reinstate the previous loan package, but she told me to proceed with the HECM.
Over the 6-week period that it took me to process the HECM, I had several confidential conversations with her (without Thom’s knowledge). She let me know that she was doing the Reverse because Thom wanted to do it. Usually, I love doing my job, but this is one of the rare instances where I just wasn’t happy about it. 6 weeks later, we were sitting at the same title company, signing the final Reverse Mortgage documents. Thom, clueless to his wife’s hesitations, had a smile ear to ear and was chattering like a squirrel. Lynn, sat quietly while indifferently signing the papers.
Lynn liked me, but not the program. Thom liked me too, but he loved the program. They frequented a restaurant up the street from me and often popped in to say “hello” to us and give my office dog (Jelly) a biscuit. Thom referred several clients and friends to me and we had long ago become friends (Lynn too). Thom even retired! He passed his business on to his son and no longer needed to work. While I strongly believed that the HECM was in their best interest, in the back of my mind, I was always a little sad that Lynn wasn’t as excited about it as both Thom and I.
On Tuesday, August 18, 2015, Lynn called me. Thom had died.
Over the 3 years I had known them, unbeknownst to me, Thom’s health had gotten progressively worse. His death was not unexpected to Lynn, but it came too soon. Lynn called me to let me know he passed 3 days earlier on August 15th at 3:44 AM, peacefully and with his family around. She also let me know that she went out to breakfast with her children at Thom’s favorite breakfast joint up the street from my office before her children left to catch flights to their respective homes that morning.
Over the previous 3 days, she had been keeping herself busy and had enough family around to distract and comfort each other. It wasn’t until she pulled into the driveway to her home alone, that she cried for the first time since his passing. She was crying because Thom had given her the gift of being able to stay in her home that contained 4 decades of memories. She called me that morning to tell me this and that for the first time in 3 years, she finally understood what Thom had seen earlier. She called to thank me and to tell me that she finally understands what the Reverse Mortgage did for them.
Lynn, you are welcome. It was my pleasure and I am glad to have had the opportunity to know you both. Thank you allowing me to share your story. Call me anytime, I’m here for you.