Most reverse mortgage options have left the market, victims of the global credit crunch. Yet the biggest player with the longest history still remains, and it pushed the industry into positive growth territory for the 19th straight year.

While the 4.3 percent increase in the number of FHA-insured Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECMs) was down significantly from previous years, it bettered the negative numbers of conventional, or "forward," loans. The Federal Housing Administration is a component of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and now the main player in the conventional (forward) and reverse mortgage market.

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