Business: Cornerstone Reverse Mortgage LLC

Owner: Joe McDermott, 56,   of Linwood  

Location: Cornerstone Commerce Center, New Road, Linwood

Employees: Three

Phone: 800-303-5045; 609-335-8480

Reverse mortgages let seniors stay in their houses while getting equity out of them.

Cornerstone Reverse Mortgage offers personalized service on the reverse mortgage program, either through seminars that I advertise in the paper or through home visits, what I call informational sessions at someone’s house.

When I’m doing this, prospective customers are encouraged to have their older kids there, to ask questions and get more information about the program.

I’ve been doing these since 2006. Before I started my own company, I was the Wells Fargo reverse mortgage person handling Atlantic, Cape May and southern Ocean counties. I’m also a member of the Atlantic County Senior Citizens Advisory Board.

The Federal Housing Administration’s insured reverse mortgage program has been around since 1990, and at the end of the day, the FHA’s reverse mortgage is nothing more than a cashout refinance for homeowners 62 and older.

What I do is qualify people on a portion of the equity based on their age. The proceeds from a reverse mortgage are tax-free and you never make a payment on the mortgage while you’re living in the house.

The clients have one responsibility: Keep paying property taxes and homeowner’s insurance, and you can stay in the house for as long as you do that. Other than that, you  have to keep the house in livable condition.

The most common misconception is everybody thinks the bank owns the house after a reverse mortgage. All we are is a lien on the title.

At 10 a.m. Thursday, I’m giving a seminar at the Cornerstone Commerce Center in the main conference room. People can call up and register.

Dealing with the misconceptions about the program can be challenging, as can what’s affecting everybody nowadays: Our property values aren’t what they used to be.

Entry: I started in 2005 with a smaller reverse mortgage company. Wells Fargo made me an offer and I went with them. We had a large share of the business in the area until Wells Fargo exited the reverse mortgage business in 2011. After we wound down the program, I started my own business.

The future: As we grow, we’re going to continue just servicing clients in New Jersey.