New York, NY - June 30, 2014 - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced a settlement with New View Mortgage Corp. arising from misleading direct mail solicitations sent to nearly 10,000 New York seniors. The solicitations, advertising reverse mortgages, were designed to look like official government notices from the Federal Housing Administration. Solicitations were mailed in envelopes that read, ‘Economic Stimulus Notice’ and ‘Government Lending Division,’ and the body of the solicitation identified the sender as ‘Federal Housing Administration Home Benefit HECM Program.’ As part of the settlement, the company must pay a penalty of $12,500 and may not misrepresent the features, benefits, and eligibility requirements of reverse mortgages in future solicitations.
“Making New York more affordable for the middle class includes protecting consumers from false and misleading advertising practices,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Our office will hold companies accountable when they seek to rip off or defraud seniors and require them to comply with the letter of the law.”
The solicitations sent by New View Mortgage contained a section called “Facts you need to know” about the HECM mortgages. However, these “facts” presented only the benefits of reverse mortgages and none of the risks. For example, the solicitation emphasized “No Monthly Mortgage Payments Required Ever!” but failed to disclose that consumers who enter into reverse mortgages continue to be responsible for tax and insurance payments. The solicitations also stated that “Your Heirs WILL inherit all remaining equity” but failed to disclose that heirs have to pay off the reverse mortgage loan in order to keep the home. While reverse mortgages may allow seniors to stay in their home without making mortgage payments, they are not necessarily the best option for all homeowners. Fees and other charges can be high in some cases. There are often less costly and more appropriate options available.
New View Mortgage Corp. is a mortgage broker and banker located in Woodbury, New York.
The case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Jeanna E. Hussey and Bureau Chief Jane M. Azia of the Consumer Frauds Bureau. The Consumer Frauds Bureau is part of the Division of Economic Justice led by Executive Deputy Attorney General for Economic Justice Karla G. Sanchez.
Tips for Homeowners Considering a Reverse Mortgage
- Don’t sign loan documents unless you understand how a reverse mortgage works.
- Shop around and compare your options and the terms various lenders offer.
- Become familiar with the different types of reverse mortgages. Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECMs) are federally insured and backed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Proprietary reverse mortgages are private loans offered by individual companies. HECMs generally provide bigger loan advances at a lower total cost compared with proprietary loans. But if you own a higher-valued home, you may get a bigger loan advance from a proprietary reverse mortgage.
- Be aware that reverse mortgages can have high upfront fees.
- Think about the impact of a reverse mortgage on your heirs. A reverse mortgage can use up all or some of the equity in your home and decrease the value of any inheritance for your heirs. Your heirs will have to repay the loan in full to retain ownership of the home.
- You are required to go to counseling before you are eligible for a federally insured reverse HECM mortgage. Visit HUD’s website to find out more information or call HUD’s housing counselor referral line (1-800-569-4287) to find a qualified reverse mortgage counselor.
- Before deciding to enter into a reverse mortgage, discuss your circumstances with a trusted friend, advisor, or family member. You may want to invite that person to your discussion with the lender and/or HUD approved counselor.
- Resist pressure to use a reverse mortgage to pay for goods or services, like home improvement services, because the total cost of the product or service is tied to getting the reverse mortgage.
- Resist pressure to buy any financial products or services, like annuities or long-term care insurance.
- If you need cash, always consider a less costly option. A home equity loan or a home equity line of credit might be a cheaper way to borrow cash. In addition, there are state and local programs that may help you defer property taxes, lower your heating costs, or save on other bills.
- You can cancel most reverse mortgages within three business days after closing for any reason, without penalty.