United Wholesale Mortgage (UWM) has called out Rocket Mortgage and Fairway Independent Mortgage Corp., announcing that it will no longer partner with brokers who work with either of the two companies.
In a statement “calling attention to lenders who are creating roadblocks for the broker community to thrive,” UWM referred to the soliciting of loan officers by Rocket and Fairway to shift away from brokers, as well as to work directly with real estate agents and cut brokers out of the process altogether. UWM gave a deadline of March 15, after which it will cut off business with brokers who do business with either organization.
Mat Ishbia, UWM’s president and CEO, announced the policy during a Facebook Live session on March 4, calling Rocket and Fairway “two companies out there that are hurting the wholesale channel.”
“[Fairway is] out there soliciting loan officers and talking negatively about brokers right now. They’re calling, trying to steal your loan officers. They’re soliciting them. They are aggressive and they’re not doing right by the broker channel,” Ishbia alleged.
“The other company is Rocket Mortgage,” he continued. “They’re going after real estate agents. They’re trying to cut the loan officer out. They’re paying real estate agents to get licensed and paying them 50 basis points … to cut the loan officer out and just refer it right to Rocket’s partnership team. Cut the brokers out, cut the loan officers out. That’s not good for us.”
UWM’s new course of action, according to the company, asks brokers and brokerages to “make a decision on whether they are all in on the future of the wholesale channel.”
“Independent mortgage brokers are leading a seismic shift in the mortgage industry and this does not align with the business model of some retail lenders,” Ishbia said. “That’s why they are attempting to circumvent the mortgage broker in the lending process. As the No. 1 advocate for independent mortgage brokers, protecting the wholesale channel is part of UWM’s responsibility, which is why we’re asking our partners to go all in with lenders who support them and their growth.”
Fairway has declined to comment, but Rocket Mortgage responded via a public statement decrying UWM’s move as attempting to manipulate the marketplace. At least one trade group has also spoken out against the new policy.
“We’re not sure this is even legal. It certainly isn’t ethical,” said Kimber White, president of the National Association of Mortgage Brokers (NAMB). “And it doesn’t represent the American way of free enterprise. This is counter to the spirit of freedom and independence that is the very foundation of our broker businesses. You should be allowed to work with whomever you want, and who offers the best product and customer service, not a company who dictates your business model to you.
“At NAMB, we support all lenders and your choice for whomever best supports you, your business and your borrowers,” White added. “We’re NAMB for all.”
Ishbia remained undeterred. He reported that UWM had already received about 600 responses from broker partners, and claimed that 93% decided to stay with UWM while the other 7% chose to do business with Rocket and Fairway.