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UWM misses 80% broker support goal in feud with Rocket Mortgage, Fairway

Breana Noble, The Detroit News on

Published in Home and Consumer News

UWM shares closed up 0.71% Tuesday, outperforming major market indexes. Rocket's were down 3.1%.

UWM has said Rocket's and Fairway's business practices threaten brokers and could leave homebuyers and homeowners with less choice. It accused Rocket of attempting to cut out brokers by recruiting real estate and insurance agents as loan officers to originate loans for Rocket themselves, incentivizing them with paid licenses and financial bonuses. Those agents are common referral sources for local brokers. Fairway, UWM said, hires loan officers away from brokers.

“I’ve received hundreds of calls and emails from mortgage brokers across the country and have been blown away at the positive response we’ve received, along with the sheer number of shops who have locked arms with us because they felt it was the right thing to do,” Ishbia said in a statement. “We’re going to be able to look back at this as a pivotal moment that helped catapult independent mortgage brokers’ growth."

UWM last year closed $182.5 billion in loan volume, a 69% increase over 2019, though it fell from the country's second-largest lender to the fourth. In 2020, Rocket originated more than $320 billion in total loan volume. Last week, it disclosed $97 billion of that was through its Rocket Pro TPO wholesale channel.

Rocket says 90 real-estate agents use its Rocket Pro platform to originate loans and denies paying agents for referrals. The company is investing $100 million this year into its broker technology and millions more to promote its wholesale channel.

Last week, the company said broker loan registrations had increased 40% daily since UWM's ultimatum and that Tuesday was on-pace to be one of the 10 best days in the company's history. Rocket is adding several hundred more brokers this month to its TPO platform, it added. Its partners grew from 3,000 to 10,000 over the past three years.

 

"We understand the power of a mortgage broker is choice and independence, and we’d never ask them to sign a loyalty pact," Rocket spokesman Aaron Emerson said in a statement. "The results speak for themselves."

In a statement last week, Fairway, the country's 12th largest lender, did not address UWM's accusation, but said it supports brokers' decisions to choose the lenders with whom they wish to work.

Other lenders like Ann Arbor-based Home Point Capital Inc., the third-largest wholesale lender behind Rocket, may stand to benefit. Home Point CEO Willie Newman said during an earnings call last week the company had experienced increasing interest from brokers. Home Point shares closed down 1.51% Tuesday.

"We feel like we're very well positioned to be that next choice," Newman said, "if it does turn out that they only have one of the two largest other lenders to work with."

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