Fed reports surge in reverse mortgages

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CHICAGO–John Weicher looked like an accountant who couldn't believe his own numbers. Weicher, the Department of Housing and Urban Development's assistant secretary for housing who oversees all Federal Housing Administration programs in his role as federal housing commissioner, told the 400 lenders gathered for the recent National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association's annual meeting that the number of federally insured reverse mortgage loans had doubled 2003's volume, surprising his department and prompting the need to add new personnel to handle the flow. "When you close more than 36,000 of these loans in one year in excess of $6 billion, you stop considering it a little something on the side," Weicher said. The numbers on Weicher's bar graph showed only significant leaps, leading the FHA commissioner to state he would have to "create a whole new slide for 2005 if this volume of business continues." HUD, through FHA, backs the most popular reverse program known as the Home Equ...