The three largest wholesale reverse mortgage lenders have formed a trade group for their industry.

The National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association, headquartered in Washington, will be an educational and lobbying organization for investors, servicers, and lenders. Reverse mortgages let senior citizens pull the equity from their homes to cover living expenses.

The association's founders-Transamerica Homefirst of San Francisco, Wendover Funding of Greensboro, N.C., and Unity Mortgage of Atlanta - have been joined by Norwest Mortgage and several other major lenders.

"When there have been political issues or regulatory issues, there has been no central voice to speak on behalf of lenders," said a representative from one of the founding companies. The group's formation is a sign of the market's maturity, he said.

The association board initially will comprise 20 members. Jeffrey Taylor, president and chief executive of Wendover Funding, will be chairman. The association will be run by Peter Bell of the Washington-based Trade Association Management Co. Its first conference is scheduled for late May in Chicago.

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