Moving beyond HECM in equity release markets?

June 27, 2008


New York, NY, USA June 27, 2008


The future equity release market will offer far greater opportunities than those presented by the current market, which has been defined by its narrow product and distribution focus.

Propelled by strong demand and a substantial injection of capital into the industry, the reverse mortgage market has been one of the recent success stories in US retail financial services. Originations of reverse mortgages sponsored by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) have grown rapidly, from less than 10,000 in 2000 to more than 100,000 in 2007.

However, the US market for senior home equity products is dominated by a single type of reverse mortgage. The US market is also underdeveloped compared to other markets, particularly Australia and the UK, offering a very narrow range of products and operating through only a small fraction of the available distribution outlets.

? looks at the reverse mortgage market and argues that although new capacity has deepened the market, it has only slightly broadened it. The US market is overwhelmingly led by home equity conversion mortgage (HECM) products, which offer significantly more generous loan-to-value (LTV) ratios than either jumbo products or comparable products in foreign markets. In some subsegments, such as HECM products for those over the age of 80, LTVs can be twice as high in the US as they are in the UK or Australia. Many lenders have recently reduced their HECM interest rate margins, which has produced even higher LTVs and may be driving additional sales.

Until the housing market stabilizes, lenders are unlikely to have much appetite for the increased risk arising from new or redesigned products and pricing. This suggests that HECM products will continue to dominate sales of reverse mortgages. However, it is quite sobering to realize that the government is effectively determining the risk appetite of the vast majority of the reverse mortgage market. Should this appetite change, either organically or as a consequence of FHA losses in the HECM program,  the market could be severely disrupted.

The report is 12 pages and has four figures and one table. A table of contents is available online.


Members of Celent's Retail Banking research service can download the report electronically by clicking on the icon to the left.  Non-members should contact for more information.


Celent is a research and advisory firm dedicated to helping financial institutions formulate comprehensive business and technology strategies. Celent publishes reports identifying trends and best practices in financial services technology and conducts consulting engagements for financial institutions looking to use technology to enhance existing business processes or launch new business strategies. With a team of internationally based analysts, Celent is uniquely positioned to offer strategic advice and market insights on a global basis. Celent is a member of the Oliver Wyman Group, which is a wholly-owned operating unit of Marsh & McLennan Companies [NYSE: MMC].

Media Contacts

North America
Michele Pace
Tel: +1 212 345 1366

Europe (London)
Chris Williams
Tel: +44 (0)782 448 3336

Asia (Tokyo)
Yumi Nagaoka
Tel.: +81 3 3500 3023

Table of Contents

New York, NY, USA June 27, 2008

Introduction 2
Primacy of HECM products 3
Expanded distribution 5
Product innovation 6
  Customer needs: The first principle of innovation 7
The prize 9


Sign in to download reports and access personalized information