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In addition, separate from the conditions brought about by aging, people with disabilities are getting older, as well. There are an estimated 641,000 adults age 60 and older with intellectual and other developmental disabilities in the U.S. That number could double to 1.2 million by the year 2030, when members of the baby boomer generation will be in their 60s.
Working in this market
To meet the growing demand from these individuals and their caregivers, mortgage brokers must approach each situation on a case-by-case basis and be well-versed in the ways that special needs can affect financing.
First, brokers will need to introduce the topic of disabilities from the start and have appropriate information to offer in response. A couple of simple questions can open the door to the special-needs market. Brokers might ask:
Does anyone in your family depend on you for assistance?
Do you or any of your family members have a disability?
Mortgage brokers must explain to their clients why they’re asking these questions. It’s important to know about disability issues because there may be lending opportunities or assistance programs that can be incorporated into the planning process for the borrowers.
If the family answers “yes” to either of the above questions, brokers should be prepared with a few follow-up questions, like:
Will I be working with the family of a person with a disability, or directly with the person with the disability?
Is accessibility a concern?
Beyond what I can do for you, do you need to be referred to other services and programs for additional help?
Mortgage brokers and originators must understand the rights of the individual and family. Federal law prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities, including in the selling or financing of housing. Brokers and originators can become a solution for the lending needs of individuals with disabilities if they understand their needs, as well as their rights. By bringing this knowledge to the table, brokers can increase their value to clients and become experts in this niche.
Mortgage brokers and originators should understand more lending programs than the obvious U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Fannie Mae options. There are many programs that offer attractive lending options not only for people with disabilities, but also to families who have a person with a disability living with them. These may include:
Lower-than-market interest rates
Assistance with closing costs and lowered origination fees
Loans and grants for assistive technology
Most programs are designed by states and counties. A good resource for brokers is the information provided by Disabled World on disability housing and home loans for disabled people (sctsm.in/DisabledWorld). It lists by state the authority that provides special home-loan programs for those with disabilities. Programs are changing constantly, so it is important for mortgage brokers to research the various opportunities available when they identify their client’s needs. (For more on disability issues and where to research them, see the sidebar to the left.)
This knowledge is critical because, in addition to serving the niche better, if mortgage brokers don’t work appropriately for their customers, they could be putting their business at risk. Ignorance is no excuse, so becoming educated is key to serving clients in the most effective manner.
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Through education and resourcefulness, mortgage brokers can become trusted professionals in the special-needs niche. They not only will reduce their business risk, but also deepen the relationships they have with customers. Brokers may find it rewarding to help those with special needs secure financing for their homes. And by serving this growing market segment sensitively and skillfully, brokers and originators can get more referrals and more business.
Mary Anne Ehlert is founder and president of Protected Tomorrows Inc., the leader in enhancing the lives of families with members who have special needs. Through their work with clients and families’ advisers, and alongside other advocates and legislators, Protected Tomorrows addresses
many concerns of families with special needs, like future-care funding, government benefits, legal considerations, residential options, employment opportunities, recreational choices, education options and family communication. Contact email@example.com or visit protectedtomorrows.com.
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