Best in the Biz: Jan McFarlane Busts Myths on Reverse Mortgages and More

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In early December, the consummate mortgage expert and entertainer — she has lived and loved in NOLA, of course — threw a bash at Samuel Lynne Galleries in the Design District, showcasing the famous wildlife photographer David Yarrow. More than 100 guests, most in some field of real estate, filled the event gallery. And somehow it was so fitting that the always elegant, articulate Jan, who knows where every real estate body is buried in this town, focused on a wildlife photographer: Jan has a wild side few know.

“I bought this event at the TREPAC White Party auction last Spring, and I have invited 100 plus peeps!” she wrote us. “Please put this on your calendar.”

Of course, we did. Everyone did. Is there anyone in the Dallas real estate community more supportive and fun than Jan McFarlane? We think not!

CD: Do you know David Yarrow? Are you a collector?

Jan: Before I had the wine Tasting at Samuel Lynne Gallery, I attend the VIP Reception for him for the opening of his Exhibit here at the Gallery.

Jan McFarlane threw quite the party at Samuel Lynne Galleries.

I had several books and I wanted them signed and met him personally in the office at the gallery the night of the exhibit.

What a charming man, a man who has given his entire life to wildlife conservation by educating the general public of these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat and his ability to capture them like no other photographer. He sees them like no other has, and he makes us FEEL them. You know, he nearly lost his life twice doing a photography adventure. He took me into the office and we laughed about both being Scottish. He is a down to earth person making our world a better place.

CD: Speaking of making a better place … why Reverse Mortgages?

Jan: The mortgage industry is my passion. And since it is my passion as an originator of what we in the industry call “forward” and “reverse” mortgages, I have found that my greatest reward in this industry is originating Reverse Mortgages.

Why do I capitalize “Reverse Mortgage”? Because I feel it deserves to be set aside and designated as it’s own special mortgage product. They are really wonderful products for the right situation. But the word — reverse —sounds like you are going backward with your finances, not forward. But “reverse” can also mean “change directions.” We change directions every day.

Sometimes we have to change directions in our finances. And when there is a need to do that, there is the Reverse Mortgage.

CD: There a stigma about Reverse Mortgages? Why is that?

Jan: First of all, most people don’t know that you have to qualify for this mortgage. And the biggest myth is the lender takes your home when you die or no longer live in your home. Not true. Your home passes to your heirs. The Reverse Mortgage is a refinance of the equity in your house just like if you had a mortgage at a bank. You leave your home to your heirs and it is a non-recourse loan. Heirs are not responsible if your house is worth less than you owe, nor is the borrower.

Let’s think of it this way: if a borrower owns very little or nothing on their mortgage, or owns their home outright, where is their equity? It’s in the walls of their house. A Reverse Mortgage is like getting a hammer and knocking out the cash holed up in that wall. A borrower may have significant investments they do not want to liquidate, but they need funds.

The people I originate Reverse Mortgages with are some of the most sophisticated in town. Many borrowers flow from the Park Cities, Preston Hollow, North Dallas, all over the Metroplex. A Reverse Mortgage can help send a grandchild to college or be used for medical care.

CD: You have a mantra …

Jan: “Helping others take care of their financial life reinforces my own commitment to abundance.”

Jan with Ulysses

CD: You are a consummate party-giver, and your parties are known to be the best ever. Have you always loved to entertain?

Jan: I think I have always loved to entertain.

On a small scale, as a young housewife giving dinner parties in Arkansas… and then I was asked to raise money for the Southeast Arkansas Arts Center in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. I was 40 years old and all of a sudden this was thrown in my lap. There were lots of people from all walks of life, lots of Southern farmers in black tie who would have rather been somewhere else, but were trying to be social for their wives. I noticed the year prior there was one bar and the line was always very long. I said to myself, “Next year, let’s have three bars, no waiting for drinks, and get these men drunk so they will buy at the silent and live auction.”

Well, sure enough, that worked and I brought in the most money ever raised for the arts center! I guess that’s how I started.

CD: What is your background — like living in NOLA — that contributes to that love?

Jan: I had a second home in New Orleans for six years. To throw a party in NOLA. you must have a tent out front, a bar with mixed drinks, a fabulous bartender and good music… what’s not to like?

CD: Tell us your top three secrets for creating the perfect party.

Woody is Cafe Pacific owner Jack Knox’s dog. “Friends fixed me up with Woody as a blind date at Cafe Pacific the night of my birthday!” Jan said. “They said they felt it would be a match made in heaven, as we both give wet kisses, bark a lot and have been known to sit up and beg.”

Jan: Lots of booze, but no DUIs, so lots of hearty good food — no little squares of cheddar cheese on toothpicks. Encourage Uber, and make it fun for everyone, including the reluctant men, husbands or otherwise. I want everyone to want to be invited to my parties because they have fun. They get fed and have a great bar.

CD: And don’t have to wait in line for drinks. That is the worst!

Jan: Agree!

CD: How long have you been in real estate in Dallas (North Texas)?

Jan: I was a real estate agent from 1982 to 1990. I kept my license active until 2005. And that’s another story. A friend of mine decided she had to start calling on Real Estate Owned (REO) managers and getting them to list all their residential REOs with her. This was the decade of the oil crash, changes in tax laws, stock market decline — basically 1987.

She started getting all these listing, and agents hated us for putting foreclosure signs in these beautiful subdivisions. Well, honey, the truth is the banks had foreclosures all over the place. I can go into Glen Lakes right now and point out more houses I sold that were foreclosures than any other realtor in town. I was simply stating reality, but many didn’t like that.

CD: Give us some dirt.

Jan: In September 2005, I was so broken-hearted over my friends suffering in New Orleans during Katrina, I never renewed my license. My daughter Kay had her license and I said, I’ll never need it. I have my mortgage license.

My heart lies with Realtors and mortgage loan originators. I know what’s it like to hope that mortgage person gets my borrowers loan through so I get a paycheck as a Realtor. That’s why I am successful or why I have empathy for Realtors — I was one! There is nothing better to me than Dallas Realtors and mortgage originators … we have all the tools to be successful and all the back up from MetroTex and TREPAC, “to keep us right side up between the fences.”

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Candy Evans

A real estate muckraker, Candy Evans is one of the nation’s leading real estate reporters. She is also the North Texas real estate editor for, CultureMap Dallas, Modern Luxury Dallas, & the Katy Trail Weekly. Candy has written for Joel Kotkin’s The New Geography, Inman Real Estate News, plus a host of national sites. Constantly breaking celebrity real estate news, she scooped former president George W. Bush's Dallas home in 2008. She is the founder and publisher of her signature, and, devoted to the vacation home market. Her verticals have won many awards, including Best Blog by the venerable National Association of Real Estate Editors, one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious journalism associations. Candy holds an active Texas real estate license but does not sell. She is on the Board of Directors of Braemar Hotels & Resorts (BHR).

Reader Interactions


  1. Mary Lou Cabbiness says

    All of us in Little Rock, AR, already knew all of this . . . and now her fame will travel everywhere. Thank you so much for this wonderful article!!!! Jan is everything you have said and more — much more!!!! Congrats, Jan. You deserve every word here. And the dress — WOWWWIEEE, HOTSY TOTSY!!!!

    XX00 – ML

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