Countrywide Financial Corp. plans to enter the reverse mortgage market by yearend. The mortgage giant intends to dominate the sector once it gets its feet wet, according to Countrywide's Chairman and Chief Executive Angelo Mozilo. This is a strategy that could mean a sizable increase in reverse mortgages floating about the secondary market. The Calabasas, Calif.-based lender was driven to enter the sector because of the product's growing secondary market acceptance as well as its growing pool of potential customers, who are homeowners aged 62 and higher.

"You have a growing population of elderly who have outlived their money and are using their home as their only savings account. Evidently there is a shift in that age group - where they have spent their lives paying down their mortgages, but now have no problem in tapping that equity," Mozilo said last week during the company's second quarter earnings conference call. "I think that it is a great market for us to participate in, and like anything else, once we get in it, we will dominate it."

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