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Christina Harmes Hika

Christina Harmes Hika: Empowering Retirements with Reverse Mortgages

Christina Harmes Hika is a Certified Reverse Mortgage Professional at Reverse Loan Solutions with Amerifund Home Loans and is emerging as a figure who defies convention and embraces challenges with determination in the mortgage industry.

Christina’s journey into the world of mortgages began at the tender age of 16. Picture this – a young girl in her Baskin-Robbins uniform, only to be told by her stepfather, “You need a real job!” Little did she know, this seemingly casual remark would set her on a path filled with excitement and learning. Assigned to assist in her stepfather’s Mortgage Brokerage, Christina recalls the days of the fax machine printing rate sheets, manually pricing out loans and immersing herself in the intricacies of the industry.

As she navigated through high school and college, earning a degree in Finance and Economics from San Diego State University, Christina’s journey took an unexpected turn. A brief stint at Northwestern Mutual and a venture into financial planning at the age of 22 provided valuable insights. However, it was when she joined her stepfather’s office full-time at 23 as a first-time buyer specialist that her true passion ignited.

The turning point came when Christina closed her first reverse mortgage. The experience was transformative. “It was such a weird loan and it had such a dramatic impact on improving this couple’s whole retirement,” Christina reminisces. Captivated by its unique features and profound implications, she delved deeper into the world of reverse mortgages driven by her search for knowledge and a desire to make a difference.

Fast forward to today, With Reverse Loan Solutions and Amerifund Home Loans, Christina continues to redefine standards, leveraging her wealth of experience and commitment to empower clients and reshape retirements.

Beyond Debt Relief

Christina reflects, “At the closing of my very first Reverse Mortgage, the wife hugged me with tears in her eyes.” She vividly recalls feeling “the huge sense of relief washing over her small frame.” This unique mortgage solution not only ‘paid off their debt’ but also ‘set up a growing line of credit as an emergency fund.’

Christina was astonished by its multifaceted benefits, remarking that it just addressed so many needs all at once financially. Moreover, she was astounded to discover that the equity in the home was predicted to continue growing. This revelation left her mind blown.

Motivated by her experience, Christina became determined to learn more and share this knowledge widely. She believes that Reverse Mortgages offer a perfect retirement solution, especially in expensive markets like San Diego. Her enthusiasm to educate others stems from her desire to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives.

Pearl’s Perseverance

Christina muses, “There are so many it’s hard to choose just one but I guess I’ll land on one of my favorite stories, of Pearl.” She recalls the tale of Pearl, a spirited 93-year-old who resisted leaving her longtime home despite needing a higher level of care.

On a moving day, Pearl plopped herself on her couch and said, ‘I’m not leaving’ (good for you, Pearl! LOL).” Christina chuckles at the memory. Pearl’s adult children are faced with the challenge of opting for in-home care leading to a significant monthly bill. This prompted them to explore financial solutions to cover the expenses.

Finding Strength in Adversity

With compassion and a strong connection to what it felt like when I was being led,” Christina shares, “I do my best to lead in an understanding yet focused way.” She emphasizes the importance of leading by example as one of the reasons she continues to originate.

Christina believes that the best leaders are those who are actively involved with their team, stating, “I think the best leaders are in the middle of the pack going through it together with their team.” She acknowledges the difficult aspect of her role, noting, “One of the sad realities we face being reverse loan officers is that sometimes borrowers pass away.”

In such moments, Christina finds solace in the support of her team, highlighting, “When that happens with a borrower of mine, I am held by my team as much as I hold my team when it happens to a borrower of theirs.”

Gratitude in Growth

I have been blessed by wonderful mentors throughout my career,” Christina reflects. She fondly recalls starting in her stepdad’s office at 16, where she received invaluable guidance and training. “He really took me under his wing and gave me better understanding and training than I think any other boss would have ever given me.”

Transitioning into Reverse Mortgages, Christina found a caring and patient mentor in Monte Howard. “He knew so many details and had seen so many crazy situations,” she recalls. Alongside Howard, she benefited from supportive account executives who aided her career growth.

Christina expresses gratitude to the owners of C2 Financial, Ron Temko and Brian for mentoring her in leadership and fair practices. “They mentored me in how to be a fair and efficient leader of many loan officers,” she acknowledges.

Additionally, she credits her friend Jodi Ryder as an inspiration, particularly recalling a moment at a meeting where Ryder’s success demonstrated the possibilities for women in the mortgage industry. “That gave me permission to go for it with everything I had,” Christina reflects gratefully. She acknowledges the profound impact her mentors have had on her career trajectory, stating, “I am very grateful to these mentors and I know I would not be where I am without them.”

The Ripple Effect

The mortgage industry, I believe, has just had a good shaking out of any non-producing loan officers,” Christina observes. She notes that this shakeup resulted in the departure of many individuals, particularly in the reverse mortgage sector. “When it comes to reverse, I think that’s a good thing,” she asserts.

Christina explains that the complexity of reverse mortgages requires a deep understanding and careful handling. She emphasizes that this misunderstood loan really takes more than most realize to do and to do well.

Consequently, the departure of less knowledgeable or reckless practitioners benefits the industry ensuring that those remaining are equipped to handle the intricacies and responsibilities associated with reverse mortgages.

Beyond the Numbers

I think we are all still battling the repercussions of low rates from 2019,” Christina observes. She highlights that many people are reluctant to give up their mortgages in the 2-4% range for higher rates, leading them to make home modifications to avoid moving. In the reverse mortgage space, even though people are giving up a payment, the emotional attachment to the ‘good deal’ of a low rate is still there.

Christina personally believes that not having a required monthly mortgage payment, even with a slightly higher rate, is a highly advantageous deal. However, she notes that traditional thinking can hinder some individuals from seeing the bigger picture.

The Rise of AI

Technology has made everything much more efficient and effective. Christina foresees its impact on the role of loan officers, predicting that simpler loans may eventually lead to the elimination of the position altogether. “As the younger generation continues to share knowledge and have less and less social interaction,” she explains, “I think they will trust the AI for help more than human abilities.”

Christina admits to relying on technology herself, stating, “I myself already go to Chat GPT to verify the information I’m hearing in conversation from a human!” She draws a parallel with calculators, suggesting that technology becomes the more trusted source over time. “We made it obsolete for a human to trust another human than a machine and so now they trust the machines more than humans,” she shares.

Facing Fear, Embracing Innovation

I think those that adapt and work with technology will thrive, and those that bury their heads in the sand and refuse to adapt will not,” Christina emphasizes. She believes that in the age of advanced AI, individuals have a choice between fear and curiosity, with fear rarely leading to significant success. “I have found over and over when I turn and face the fear, understand all I can about what I was fearing, I can typically use that to my advantage,” she shares.

Christina draws parallels to her own experience with adopting video for seniors in 2017, despite initial skepticism. “When I began utilizing video for seniors back in 2017, people thought I was crazy, but now it’s a common best practice,” she reflects.

Parenthood and Professionalism

Yes, it can be demanding to balance work and personal well-being,” Christina acknowledges. She expresses gratitude to her past clients, referral partners and mortgage broker community for their trust and continual referrals. “I believe the care and dedication I show my clients go a long way,” she affirms.

Reflecting on her experience as a mother, Christina recognizes the invaluable skills gained from managing multiple responsibilities. Mothers are required to do so much for so many, she remarks, “Now being on this side of it, I laugh to think society tries to discredit mothers.” She views mothers as true superheroes adeptly managing various tasks with efficiency and kindness.

Christina emphasizes the importance of being direct and efficient, getting directly to the point saves everyone’s time. She credits motherhood for teaching her to accomplish tasks more efficiently, resulting in a better end product. “The phrase ‘say what you mean and mean what you say’ comes to mind,” she expresses.

Embracing Authenticity

Be true to yourself, your integrity and do what’s right. People first always—the profits will follow,” Christina advises. Reflecting on her early managerial experience, she recalls emulating male colleagues’ approaches unconsciously.

Most of whom happened to be men, without knowing it, I learned to take steps and approach things the way men would in the workplace, and that worked for a while. Then it didn’t,” she shares.

Christina emphasizes the importance of authenticity, stating, “I truly believe women have a superpower when they show up in their most authentic selves.” She encourages women to assert themselves confidently, without compromising their identity. “When you believe you deserve a seat at the table, you carry yourself differently and THAT makes all the difference,” she concludes.

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