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Another Reverse Lender Done

Financial Freedom confirms plans to stop lending

March 22, 2011

By Mortgage Daily staff

It was the third recent exit for a high-profile reverse mortgage lender. The latest casualty at one time had a market share of 50 percent.

Last month, Bank of America Home Loans disclosed plans to abandon reverse mortgage lending. In its statement, the company blamed "competing demands and priorities that require investments and resources be focused on other key areas of our business."

This month, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage said it would eliminate its wholesale reverse mortgage channel. The decision was made following a "detailed review and evaluation of volume and goals for 2011."

Now, Financial Freedom is calling it quits.

The move was confirmed Tuesday by a spokeswoman for Financial Freedom parent OneWest Bank Group LLC.

"I can confirm for you the decision to exit the reverse mortgage origination business," the spokeswoman said.

No other details were provided.

Last year, Financial Freedom closed just 1,111 home-equity conversion mortgages -- plummeting from 4,010 HECMs closed during 2009, according to data reported by Reverse Market Insight.

It's been the same for the industry as a whole, with annual HECM production for all lenders tumbling to 72,748 units last year from the previous year's 111,924.

Financial Freedom was acquired in 2004 by IndyMac from Lehman Brothers for $68 million.

In April 2006, before the subprime crisis became a crisis, IndyMac Bancorp announced that it was considering the possibility that it might spin off 25 percent to 40 percent of Financial Freedom Holdings Inc. At the time, the company claimed a 50 percent market share and was valued at between $200 and $400 million.

Financial Freedom became a subsidiary of OneWest Bank FSB in March 2009 when parent IndyMac Federal Bank FSB was acquired from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. At the time of the acquisition, Financial Freedom Senior Funding Corp.'s reverse mortgage servicing portfolio stood at $21.3 billion.

In 2007, Financial Freedom was the second-biggest reverse mortgage lender behind Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., according to data previously released by the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association.

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