Reverse mortgage endorsements dropped 5.8% to 1,649 loans in January, according to the latest report from Reverse Market Insight.
This is a major improvement from the previous month, which saw volume plummet 31.4%, ending December at a 14-year low for the second consecutive month.
But, HECM loans were not endorsed during the government shutdown, so the data reflects a huge gap in activity from Dec. 22 to Jan. 27.
While the month’s total reveals more loans than normal from Jan. 28 to Jan. 31, RMI said it’s hard to know if this reflects a surge in activity as lenders cleared a backlog of loans once the shutdown lifted.
“It’s hard to honestly know what to make of that given the noise introduced by the government shutdown,” RMI wrote, adding that assessing January’s true volume would be pure speculation at this point.
Assuming the government doesn’t shut down again, RMI said the industry isn’t likely to see a normal month of endorsement volume until March.
The top 10 lenders closed out January with mixed performance, with five posting gains and five posting losses. RMI said those who saw volume drop drastically likely put their endorsement resources elsewhere during the shutdown.
Those lenders that saw volume spike during the month include HighTechLending (up 513%– a clear result of a December backlog), Liberty Home Equity Solutions (40.3%) and American Advisors Group (12.1%).
Regionally, Pacific Hawaii recovered in January, posing a 19.3% gain, but this is still below its previous performance.
The Southeast/Caribbean was flat after a dismal December, which RMI called “troubling” considering it is usually a strong region for volume.