Based in Orange, Calif., Ennkar was originally founded in 2014 and entered the top 10 reverse mortgage lenders for the first time in January 2021, according to Reverse Market Insight (RMI) data. Many people in the industry had apparently never heard of this lender before seeing the company’s name in ad dates and RMD, but the story of its creation is a real love for the industry and product category and store manager, according to its co-founder.
Omar Ennabe, who co-founded Ennkar in its original form in 2014 before changing the company name to his and his partners’ names in 2017, came into the world of reverse mortgages through an initial focus in the world of financial planning.
That education gave him a better understanding of how a reverse mortgage can help someone in retirement, and he tells his own story of how he got into the business through the lens of a hit movie.
The “Slumdog Millionaire” of Reverse Mortgage Stories
Director Danny Boyle’s 2008 hit Slumdog Millionaire tells the story of an 18-year-old from Mumbai found himself on a popular game show that would change his life forever. The way the film is structured offers a very holistic perspective on the events that lead the main character into a unique new situation, and Ennabe feels some synergy with that character’s story in terms of how he got into the reverse mortgage business.
“Everything that led me to get into the reverse mortgage field seems to have been almost on purpose,” Ennabe told RMD in an interview. “I wanted to become a financial advisor and get into financial planning, but I was drawn to the big numbers that promised me to make $ 200,000 to $ 300,000 for mortgage companies in the subprime days of 2007 with no college degree required. “
This did not last long, however, as the property market collapse soon ensued, causing Ennabe to focus again on the field of financial planning. Even so, he worked in the mortgage profession for about 18 months before deciding to return to planning, which gave him a holistic perspective on how real estate might interact with someone’s investments.
“In many cases, I sat down with people preparing for retirement and saw their portfolios go from $ 1 million to $ 300,000 or $ 400,000,” says Ennabe. “Many of them were sold in a panic, thinking they had to sell before they were all lost, so they didn’t see much recovery. The only thing protecting them was that their home values rose again in 2011 and 2012. “
As someone with a mortgage background advising someone on what to do next, the reverse mortgage product started making sense to many people he would speak to who might not have enough assets to give them a full retirement, he said.
“I had some experience with the reverse mortgage product and knew a little about it, but I didn’t start it until I went to work with my brother who took out reverse mortgages for Advisors Mortgage Group,” he says . “That’s where I started.”
The background in financial planning after working with his brother at Advisors Mortgage Group provided a busy schedule early on as he worked both jobs for a while.
“I would work at Fidelity Investments from 7:00 a.m. to about 4:00 p.m. and then drive from Mission Viejo to Irvine to my brother’s office,” he explains. “And then I would work from 5:00 pm to about 9:00 pm just to do an FHA rationalization.”
This has resulted in both Omar and his brother becoming more focused on reverse mortgages after those loans dried up, he says.
Go one step further
Omar’s financial planning and mortgage experience paid off and helped illustrate to both him and his clients why people should look at them more fully in a given situation.
“I’d already told people, ‘Hey, why are you doing a 15 year loan when you can take out a 30 year loan and invest the difference? Well, the opposite is just one step further. “The reverse includes a 30-year term within the reverse mortgage and a 15-year term within the reverse mortgage,” he says. “But it is only one step further: a borrower has the option of only paying interest or not sending a payment, which gives them the ultimate safety net among themselves.”
This is what Ennabe calls “the secret recipe” he and his brother would use to sell reverse mortgages successfully: by positioning them as a term loan, but giving the borrower more options and more control over how to approach a payment want to draw or strategy. This ultimately led to Ennabe becoming a broker partner for various companies. One of them was Blue Wave Funding, and when they saw the volume he was doing, they reached out to Ennabe and recruited him and his partner Mike Elachkar as partners. However, Ennabe and Elachkar eventually surpassed them and bought them out.
“Then the name ‘Ennkar’ was born in 2017,” he says. “We became Ennkar, which is just a combination of my last name and my partner’s last name, just my last name, Ennabe and his last name, Elachkar, and we just beat them up.”
While Ennkar’s journey was generally successful, the company went through a difficult period of change when the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) tabled significant changes to the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) program, including a cut back to Principal Limit Factors ( PLFs) and the introduction of the collateral risk assessment. However, the company managed to keep soldier on.
“2018 was a reinvention of ours,” he says. “So it was like taking five steps back, but we got really into technology. We have made some significant investments in our infrastructure and bought a commercial building that we are now renting out to ourselves. Things were just developing, but it was turbulent. It was a lot of long hours, a lot of work and lots of weekends. I can’t tell you it was easy, but it makes it so much more rewarding, so much more enjoyable and you really get the feeling that you have achieved something. “
Ennabe is very grateful for the team at his company that has made so much success and transformation possible, especially as the company looks forward to becoming a bigger player in the reverse mortgage industry.
“I wouldn’t be anyone without the team behind me,” he says. “I think Ennkar in general we believe that human capital is our most valuable asset. My team is the only reason Ennkar had the success it had. It’s certainly not just me, it’s my business partners, my lenders, my processing team, we are family and we are successful together because of all of their hard work. “