About Us    Fireside Chat With Larry DeFeo

He's Helped Hundreds of People Age 62+
Stay In Their Homes
While They Gain More Income.
He's Larry DeFeo

Ladd Mortgage, LLC President Larry DeFeo loves working with seniors. Before he started Ladd Mortgage 20 years ago, Larry was a house builder, EMT/ambulance volunteer, ocean sailor, pilot, and a martial arts instructor. Now one of his special passions is enriching the lives of seniors through mortgage products like the reverse mortgage. Here he briefly talks about the benefits of reverse mortgages and why Ladd Mortgage is considered a leader in the field.

Q: Larry, you do a great deal of work with people in their sixties and older. Why do you specialize in that age group?

Larry: I love working with people that age. They're fun to work with, ask good questions and appreciate good service. Spend time and effort with them and they are amazingly grateful. And for the last 15 years our reverse mortgages have dramatically improved the lives of hundreds of people in their 60s, 70s and beyond.

Q: How has Ladd Mortgage dramatically improved the lives of seniors?

Larry: I've seen so many people at this age suffering quietly, largely due to financial difficulties. They've worked hard their whole life and they deserve better. I've seen people forced into making choices they should never have to make like choosing between buying groceries or medications. It's exhilarating to deliver a product, like the reverse mortgage, that absolutely improves their lives. It feels like community service or volunteer work.

Q: I read that more than 150,000 Americans 62 and older have benefited from reverse mortgages. What's the big deal about this product?

Larry: The big deal is that when people reach retirement age, many have most of their money tied up in their home. They're wealthy in terms of their living situation but they're cash poor. A reverse mortgage is a loan that allows them to use the equity in their home to improve their quality of life. You should see the relief and even the glee that people get when their reverse mortgage goes through.

Q: Tell me more about the benefits of reverse mortgages.

Larry: First, we need to mention that you have to be at least age 62 to qualify. Seniors use these mortgages to turn home equity into cash for whatever they need or want. Some of our clients make home repairs. Some pay down debt. Others go back to college, travel you name it. The great thing is that they have all this cash, plus, they're guaranteed to stay in their home as long as they live.

Q: I know you've been successful helping hundreds of seniors but what about your own family.

Larry: I've been caring for my 87 year old dad for the last 15 years. He's now in an assisted living complex. With dad and with my 20 years in the mortgage business, I've been through all the major trials and tribulations the older generation goes through. And I learned a lot through CSA training.

Q: What is CSA and how does it help you work with seniors?

Larry: This year I completed an intensive study program to qualify for the Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) designation from the Society of Certified Senior Advisors. It's like a college course on how to work more effectively with senior clients in all aspects of their lives. I like the wording the society uses to describe the purpose of a CSA: "helping older adults to make aging a state to be savored instead of a fate to be feared."

Q: Okay, so I'm interested in hearing more about a reverse mortgage. How do you start the process, Larry?

Larry: I'll meet with anyone who's interested. Usually, about 98% of the time, we meet in their home. That's an honor to be received in a person's home so I let them know that. Then I tell them my only goal is to educate them about reverse mortgages. I educate and they can then make an informed decision on whether a reverse mortgage is a good option for them. That's it.

Q: So you're not looking for any commitment at this first meeting?

Larry: I am very clear that I am not looking for a signature or a check or a commitment of any sort. Typically, this takes the pressure off so we can focus on their current situation and on education about reverse mortgages. I want any decision people make to be the right decision for them.

Q: Besides your no sales pressure approach, Larry, why else should people come to you with questions about reverse mortgages?

Larry: Like myself, seniors want to deal with someone with experience and success. I've been helping people get good mortgages for more than 20 years. I've been actively offering reverse mortgages for the last 8 years. Through our company, hundreds of people in their sixties and beyond have dramatically improved their financial situation through a reverse mortgage.

Q: Have you ever had a dissatisfied reverse mortgage client?

Larry: No. I have never had one person ever express any regrets.

Q: Larry, what else do you do for seniors that's different from what other mortgage lenders do?

Larry: At Ladd Mortgage we stay with seniors every step of the way. My staff and I are always available. I have been out to people's homes as many as 5 times explaining the program to them, their adult children, their financial advisors or whoever they want to have the information. We continue to stay involved after the closing by answering questions, changing program details, directing people to other consultants they want to meet -- lawyers, health care professionals, financial advisors -- and helping however we can.

Q: Not to get too detailed, but can you outline the steps in the reverse mortgage process?

Larry: First, I always talk to people on the phone to be sure they should consider a reverse mortgage. Then, as I said, we have an educational meeting in their home. If they want to proceed we set up FHA counseling and arrange for a home appraisal.

Then the paperwork begins. Ladd Mortgage explains all the disclosure and other forms. We explain and expedite the process with their bank. And we arrange for a lawyer we know and trust to close the loan at the person's home.

After the closing we always contact the couple (or individual) to make sure they are satisfied. We answer any questions they have. Then they receive a second copy of the complete closing package about a month later for their records.

Q: How long of a process is this?

Larry: The process may sound simple, but each of these many steps often takes multiple phone calls. We must get the right parties involved and obtain all the information needed to make the right decisions. But we never rush the process. We work at the pace of the client.

Q: So you give seniors as much time as they need to make a decision?

Larry: Definitely. I work on their timetable. So far my record is 23 months!

Q: Do seniors always work with you or do they work with someone else?

Larry: Every reverse mortgage client works with me and always has access to me. I do all the initial work and stay involved with every phase of the process. But of course, I have a staff that can do some things better than I can. My assistant, Nicole, handles most of the initial arrangements. Debbie, my processor, handles all the disclosures and the coordination with the bank. Nicole, a paralegal, handles any legal matters if necessary. But I meet with my staff to discuss every open file, every day unless I'm out on appointments the whole day. Even then we discuss each file on the phone. And I can't say this enough: I am available to any borrower anytime during business hours and will schedule meetings days, nights or weekends.
Remember, I love working with seniors.

Q: So who is your most senior client?

Larry: She's 95 years young. She lives alone in Western Mass. and has since her husband died 45 years ago. She does math faster in her head than I can on my calculator.

Q: For me, choosing a mortgage lender often comes down to trust.

Larry: Yes, most people are like you. And people in their 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond can be apprehensive at first. As well they should be. But they are very trusting once you earn their confidence. Many people find the reverse mortgage makes sense for them. If I think it's the best option and they ask, I will tell them that. If not, I will tell them what options I do recommend. But then people often tell me they went ahead with the reverse mortgage because they totally trusted me. That feels like an honor to me.

Q: What do they say to you that shows they trust you?

Larry: A lot of seniors will say something like, "Larry, if you think a reverse mortgage is the best thing for me, that's good enough for me. Wow, that's pressure! But I'll never recommend anything I don't think is the right move for them.

Q: So prove it Larry. Tell me a story about a client you really helped.

Larry: We did a loan for a 79-year-old woman last December. She worked out of her home and had fallen on hard times. She was 4 months behind on her mortgage and was in the final phase of foreclosure. We put all of our efforts into helping her. Ladd Mortgage got the lender to bend the rules a little and then we informed her that we could save her house and she would live there the rest of her life with no monthly payments. We gave her the good news the night before Christmas Eve. Sweet!

Q: How about a story where things didn't work well.

Larry: Ladd Mortgage almost did a reverse mortgage for one of my employee's mother 3 years ago. I wish we had. The employee's siblings did not understand the benefits and objected. So we suspended the application. The Mother ended up selling her house to her youngest son with a life use clause. But then the son got divorced and the mother had to cough up big money to the the ex-wife. She's now talking to me again about a reverse mortgage so she'll be guaranteed a place to live for the rest of her life. Unfortunately, there won't be much extra money left this time.

Q. But reverse mortgages aren't for everyone. Who is not a good candidate for one?

Larry: People who will only be in their home a short time should not consider a reverse mortgage. The reverse mortgage will not generate enough money to justify the closing costs if you're going to move within a year or two.

Q: And a good candidate for a reverse mortgage is someone who...

Larry: By law they must be at least age 62. They need to have some equity in the home and plans to say in that home for at least 2-3 years.

Q: After people use your services, Larry, what do they most compliment you and your staff on?

Larry: Most people appreciate that it was a smooth, painless process. I credit my talented, experienced and genuinely caring staff for that. Seniors often tell me they are so impressed that everything went like I said it would. I love it when that happens.

Q: Any closing thoughts, Larry?

Larry: After 15 years of working with seniors on reverse mortgages, I know how beneficial they are. Anyone age 62 or older, who needs more income or cash, has equity in their home, and wants to guarantee they can stay in their home forever, should consider a reverse mortgage.

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