EP 136 SCI Netcast: Sam Lowy – Reverse Mortgages & Seniors, Regulations Have Changed

Valerie VanBooven:

This is Valerie VanBooven with The Senior Care Industry Netcast, where leaders with three or more years of experience in the senior care market share their advice. So let’s get started. In a few sentences, tell us who you are and what you do.

Sam Lowy: SamLowy.com Reverse Mortgages

Thank you, Valerie. Thank you for inviting me here. My name is Sam Lowy. I’ve been helping seniors for 18 years now and specialize in reverse mortgages. I’ve started in the industry years ago, helping them plan for long-term care and realized that a lot of people just don’t have enough funds to buy long-term care insurance, some of them are not healthy enough to get long-term care insurance and the reverse mortgage has changed in a lot of ways, which is why I now educate people about it.

Valerie VanBooven:

Yes, it’s very highly regulated and I know things have changed over the years. I’d like to share a positive story about reverse mortgages. My mother-in-law, I’d say this was probably 15 years ago … well, maybe 10 years ago, she needed some really intense work done. Here in Missouri, we have basements in Missouri and Illinois because we have tornadoes and stuff like that. So we always have basements on our houses and her basement was crumbling. And that happens after a house gets so old, you need to reinforce it. Well, it’s like $30,000 to reinforce the basement. So she didn’t have that kind of money and it needed to be done. Of course, this house has been paid off for years and she’s older. So we did a reverse mortgage to help her pay the fee for the basement. And what she did was she took out the lump sum that she needed just to fix the basement, but she left the rest of it sitting there. So we didn’t take out all of the equity at this at one time.

Valerie VanBooven:

So years pass and she’s left it alone. She didn’t take out any more money and she ends up needing to go into assisted living and then eventually nursing home care. And we were able to extract the rest of that equity out of her reverse mortgage that had been sitting there for all those years and use that to privately pay for her care until she finally had no income left, which has been about maybe three and a half, four years now. She’s lived in whatever type of environment she wanted to live in, private pay for three or four years because she had that reverse mortgage money is still sitting there from years ago. And that was very nice.

Valerie VanBooven:

Now she is on Medicaid. She has spent all her money down. But because she started out private pay, she’s still in the facility that she wants to be in. She just got on the waiting list and now it’s working for her still. So in her case, that was an excellent decision on her part. None of the children wanted the house. And since then, we were happy to know that it’s been flipped. It’s been completely redone on the inside. It’s beautiful. And a lovely young couple is there. So [crosstalk 00:03:23] with the outcome, it was a very good choice then, but we didn’t know how good of a choice it would be until the day she needed care. So I’ll just throw that in there as a positive reinforcement that this really does work.

Sam Lowy:

That’s amazing. That’s amazing. And I appreciate your sharing that Valerie. Because as you and I know and many people who are going to be listening to this know, when people hear the word reverse mortgage, there’s something in their mind that just go and becomes, “Oh, is that the one that banks take away homes, where people get thrown out into the street or is that the one that is only as a last resort option?” And I was one of them. I used to think the same way.

Sam Lowy:

My clientele, most of them are high-net-worth clientele. And, but once I researched and started utilizing the product to help seniors, I realized that this is a tool to make lifestyle easier for retirees. And I always tell people, “There’s a reason this is not available for a 30-year-old.” Just imagine every 30-year-old to get a reverse mortgage, what will be going on here? There will be lines out the door. “You mean I don’t have to make any monthly mortgage payment?” So it’s designed to make lifestyle easier.

Sam Lowy:

So it’s just stories like you just shared. It’s these types of stories that people need to understand how this could help a person as they get older and need more resources.

Valerie VanBooven:

Yeah, absolutely. And it can work in many, many different ways. You don’t have to use reverse mortgage money for one particular thing or the way my mother-in-law ended up using it. But we were just thrilled that we had a way to keep her in the facility and in the care that she wanted. As her illness got worse, she had to go to [inaudible 00:05:12] care. But we were thrilled that her private pay ability was there so she could get to the facility she wanted and get on the Medicaid waiting list. So that works really well.

Valerie VanBooven:

Anyway, so I’m going to continue asking questions, but I wanted to throw that in there right away because this can be a super positive experience for so many. And what is the best thing about serving aging adults?

Sam Lowy:

That’s a great question. And again, doing this for 18 years, you could understand that there must be something that drives me to do this other than just, of course, making a living is I love seeing that satisfaction of people. Once they have some sort of plan, where’s that money going to come from? And dealing within the home care industry, we all know that it all comes down to all the services that we want to have and pay. If it’s home care, if it’s any other type of services, we need money for it. And seniors are always concerned about outliving their money.

Sam Lowy:

Life expectancy is longer these days, which is great. Medical advances have improved. And at the same time, people do not save enough. And once they understand how the money is sitting in their backyard doing nothing could be helpful to them and they don’t lose the house, the bank is not on title, they own the home just like they owned before, it’s just the lien on the house like any mortgage, it becomes a whole different conversation.

Sam Lowy:

So it’s watching the tears in the eyes, to be frank with you, thanking me for what I did, for taking the time to educate them what it is and what it isn’t. Because I will tell you, my statistics are nine out of 10 people I talk to do not know what a reverse mortgage is. They still think it’s the old reverse mortgage that they might’ve seen something on TV about some story years ago, which was the case. There was some loopholes in the old reverse mortgage, but that’s gone. It’s regulated. It’s compliant. The government is very on top to make sure everything is compliant. So this is something that could be a tool not just as I said, for people that need the money. But as I said before, a lot of wealthy people are utilizing it for different tax reasons and so forth. So it’s the satisfaction, the clients that makes me proud of what I do.

Valerie VanBooven:

Well, that’s awesome. And in this case and in any case, no matter what you’re doing with mortgage or financial decisions that are pretty big like this it’s always great to have someone who has 18 years of experience to talk you through it, to help you understand what your options are and not just jump into something without really knowing all the pros and cons going back and forth. And how the creativity … I’m sure that what you can do for clients is show them very creative ways to use this money to help with whatever their financial plan is.

Valerie VanBooven:

And to get to those creative ideas and to help them with a long-term plan, you really do need years of experience in this market and have seen a lot of different things and a lot of plans being executed so that you know what all those creative options are. It can be a little complicated, but so rewarding at the end. So the awesome part of having folks like you on is that you have so much experience behind you. You know what to do.

Sam Lowy:

Thank you.

Valerie VanBooven:

All right. I would imagine that in your lifetime or in your professional life, there have been organizations or people out there that have been a light in your life, or a mentor or organizations that you just think do a really good job. Who would you like to talk about?

Sam Lowy:

It’s quite a few. I would say going back to seniors, being that they’re so vulnerable and so many organizations and vendors and companies try to market to them, they get very, very overwhelmed, to say the least. So there are organizations out there that are non-for-profit. And believe it or not, I’m referring more to local organizations, not so much national organizations, which I’m sure there are many, that take the time to have volunteers available to help those seniors make decisions. And that could be financial decisions. It could be decisions when it comes to social security, Medicare because there’s just a lot out there as people in the senior market know.

Sam Lowy:

So there’s one organization I’m thinking of, which is really a lady doing it out of her home. I think she had experienced with her own family. But she has volunteers that will provide handiwork for seniors, that they need to switch a bulb when they can’t reach the ceiling. Things like that. They would come down and help with those little things. It’s amazing what it means to those seniors. Younger people take it for granted, but going up on that ladder and changing the air filter. They’re not going to call an electrician for changing an air filter, but they can’t get up to the attic.

Sam Lowy:

So there are things like that where this lady, just out of home, has a family of children but will take the time and advertise locally in the papers, looking for volunteers and kind of connecting people. And this is what touches my heart. As I’m dealing with these seniors all the years, I see there’s so many good people bending backwards to help people who are vulnerable, who have more limited capacity of doing things. And that means a lot to me.

Valerie VanBooven:

Yeah. I agree. Sometimes, it’s just one individual who devotes their life to helping others. And it’s incredible to see. It’s wonderful to see, and we need more people like that everywhere, so that’s awesome. And I’m sure that folks that come to you if they need resources like that, you know exactly who to turn to and where to go. So that’s awesome too. All right. Let’s talk about online marketing a little bit.

Valerie VanBooven:

You had shared your website and your information with me a little bit earlier today. And you have lots of testimonials and good things that people say about you. What has been your experience? I mean, in the last year or more, we’ve had a really limited amount of sitting face to face with folks in the same room. So we’ve done a lot of Zoom meetings and we’ve done a lot of online marketing that we hadn’t maybe done before. So what has been your experience?

Sam Lowy:

That’s an interesting question because dealing with seniors, I originally thought that they might be not as updated when it comes to technology, but I’m surprised to see how many of them have their iPhones when I meet with them and are pretty good at it. I’m not going to say all of them, but quite a few.

Sam Lowy:

So the short answer is I believe in the last year, a lot more technology has been a part of communicating with seniors. I mean, we’ve been doing a lot of Zoom calls with seniors. As far as online marketing, to be frank with you, most of my business is referral-based because there’s a lot of trust involved with this type of service. You’d be surprised how many times I really feel I’m more of a social worker than doing a reverse mortgage, which I’m so happy to be there, a listening ear.

Sam Lowy:

And I get very, very close with my clients, which is some of the testimonies I’ve seen on the site. So I would say most of them are referring their neighbors, their friends, their family, and so forth. And then there’s, of course, different realtors, attorneys and people in the home care industry. But I haven’t really done a lot online yet. I am thinking of exploring that. Just have to see, time-wise, if I could accommodate and be of service to everyone if I do that. So I have to kind of do this step-by-step.

Valerie VanBooven:

No, I understand. And you know what? The personal referral or the professional referral are the best referrals and the best way to get clients ever. Because no matter who I talk to from financial planning or reverse mortgages to home care assisted living, this is a trust issue. It’s expertise, trust, authority in its subject matter that you’re an expert in. That really matters because we’re talking about big life decisions here in all of those areas. Whether it’s financial, emotional, or physical, we’re talking about big life changes. So I would agree with you, those referrals are golden and they are the most important thing. And definitely, it is a trust issue. You hit the nail on the head there.

Valerie VanBooven:

And people are scared to death about all these big decisions they suddenly feel like they might need to make or making big financial changes. So trusting someone that someone else has worked with is a big deal. So thank you for that.

Valerie VanBooven:

Okay. What piece of advice would you give to other senior providers? And this can be from financial providers, reverse mortgage, home care. What piece of advice would you like to give to others?

Sam Lowy:

To be patient. Seniors communicate different than younger people. I’ve been doing this for 18 years. I almost feel like I know a second language. It’s a different language when you talk to seniors and you have to know that and be aware of it. They need a little more time and more time to think about things. They want to see that you’re trustworthy and that goes to any type of service. It could be a home care agency that they’re shopping around for. They want to make sure that it’s okay and it might take a couple of days longer. So if it’s marketing to seniors, you want to give it a little more time. It doesn’t mean that if you don’t hear from someone the next day, then you have to call again. Give them a little bit of time. Let them feel comfortable with what they’re doing.

Sam Lowy:

And of course, I don’t have to say that, but I always say that because there’s never enough. Be honest. Be straightforward. There’s so much nonsense out there and seniors have seen it all and they’re looking for help. They’re looking for guidance. And if you’re in the senior market and your heart is not there, it’s just about money, I don’t know how someone could last in this business. It’s all about, like I said before, having that satisfaction of helping them.

Sam Lowy:

And this is the best advice I could give. And this is why I would like to believe a lot of my business comes from referrals is because if you really do what’s right, it’s not about charging them more, you’re not here to make money. There’s enough business out there in anything we’re doing if we do the right thing. So that’s what I would say in general, that hopefully could be helpful to anybody or everyone.

Valerie VanBooven:

I think that’s great advice, patience, good listening skills, all those things are great advice when it comes to our seniors. And your right. Slowing down, letting them take the time to make decisions, answering their questions two or three times if you need to or two or three different ways.

Valerie VanBooven:

I know sometimes I’ll be talking to somebody and my husband will be in the background or in another room and he’ll hear my conversation. And he’ll say, “You said the exact same thing four times.” I know. I know. But sometimes when people ask questions, they need you to explain it a different way a couple of different times. They’re asking the same question, but they just don’t know. So until they are satisfied that that is the answer or that they understand finally what you’re trying to say, sometimes I do repeat myself, but it’s okay. It’s just kind of how some people learn differently.

Valerie VanBooven:

And as we get older, we want to make sure we’re doing the right thing. We’re not as quick to jump at the shiny object here and the shiny object there. We want to make sure we’re doing the right thing. Because as you mentioned earlier, we’re very afraid we’re going to outlive our money. And when it comes to financial decisions, it’s always best to make sure you understand. So thank you. Yes, listening and having patience is definitely a great skill in this market and your heart has to be in it. There’s no other way to say that.

Valerie VanBooven:

This is not the easiest way to make a living. It’s not the hardest either, but it’s certainly not one that you get into because it’s quick and fast. This is a heartfelt … no matter what you’re doing, if you’re working with our senior population, it’s a heartfelt job.

Valerie VanBooven:

All right. Last question. Supposed to be my fun one. Some people have challenges with this. When you have a win in life or in business, how do you like to celebrate?

Sam Lowy:

That’s a great question. And to be frank with you, I’ll go back to what I said before, having a family with some married kids and my first granddaughter a few months ago. So my best celebration is if I took someone from A to B. I mean, going out of debt at home and hearing the thank yous and getting a testimonial afterwards when I didn’t even ask for it and seeing the wording and the way they write about it. It’s not just to give me a review. They really feel they went through the whole process. That’s celebrating. Coming home and knowing that I did the right thing for a person. That’s celebrating. And that’s what I do.

Sam Lowy:

I just wake up every morning knowing I have a job. I need to help as many people as possible. And the more I help people, the more I celebrate, the more I feel good about what I do and that keeps me going. And that’s why I’ve been helping seniors for such a long time.

Valerie VanBooven:

Yeah, that’s great. That’s great. And I’m so glad that you’re able to share your wisdom with us today. That’s definitely a celebration. Every time a professional like you comes on and is able to articulate and share their wisdom and express their love for the job that they’ve been doing for so long, that is something that I really enjoy. And it’s always a pleasure for me to make sure that your presence and your services are known to as many people as possible because it’s hard to know who to trust and it’s hard to find the right person to work with. And so when we do interviews like this, it really helps.

Valerie VanBooven:

So I thank you for coming on the show and sharing your wisdom with us.

Sam Lowy:

Thank you for inviting me, Valerie. It was a pleasure. And I want to compliment you for everything you’re doing in the senior market space. It’s amazing how many tools and resources your company offers and how devoted your company is to this new market. And it’s companies like yours that I was talking about before that make it more comfortable for seniors to make decisions. So I appreciate all the work you guys do.

Valerie VanBooven:

Well, thank you very much. I appreciate it.

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Founder, Co-Owner, Wife, Mom, Author, Video Nerd. The buck stops here. Serving the Home Care and Senior Care Markets since 2008! Our services include home care seo, home care websites, home care marketing, home care social media, home care recruiting, caregiver recruiting, and home care Google My Business strategies.
Valerie VanBooven RN BSN
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