At the start of the new year, Black Diamond Mortgage Owner David Boye received an email from an account executive representing one of the nation’s largest lenders asking for a second chance.

“We are a completely different company from when you used us back in 2016 and we would love to show you,” the account executive said. “I understand you have a few lenders that you use. I am simply asking, what do you need from me…to get back in the fight with where you are placing loans?”

Boye’s response was swift and clear: “I wish you the best, there is no chance that we will ever do business together. NONE.”

Over the next 10 years, Millennials are expected to purchase at least 10 million new homes, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and First American calculations. By 2060, it is estimated that the generation will have produced more than 20 million first-time homebuyers.

Millennial demand for homeownership was one of the biggest trends influencing the housing market in 2018, First American Deputy Chief Economist Odeta Kushi said in a recent note. This is unlikely to reverse course going into next year, the year after that or for many years to come.

While this generation is often “mistakenly portrayed” as showing a preference for renting, Kushi notes this is incorrect – Millennials still appreciate buying a home but have different motivations and delays in doing so.

“Because they grew up in the wake of the housing bust, Millennials are less likely to consider homeownership as a means of building wealth and, therefore, choose homeownership based more on whether homeownership fits their lifestyle or not,” Kushi said. “Our research shows that, because lifestyle choices are the most important factors influencing the decision to become a homeowner, it is reasonable to expect the homeownership rate for Millennials to increase as more get married and form families.”

While the homeownership rate for young adults is currently quite low, with just over one-third of adults under age 35 owning a home, the potential for home sales is high. Kushi notes that more than half of all the purchase mortgages guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2018 went to first-time homebuyers.

It was this data alone that prompted the writing of this story. We set out to ask how lenders were going to battle for the borrower. The answers we received changed our minds. There’s a battle happening on a much smaller scale, and that’s the battle for the broker.

In a recent interview with me, Caliber Home Loans CEO Sanjiv Das, referred to “skirmishes” in the mortgage broker space that hogged headlines in 2018.

The main one is the arrival of the newly formed trade group, the Association of Independent Mortgage Experts. The head of the group, Anthony Casa, is himself a lightning rod, posting candid comments on Facebook. He calls Quicken Loans, “Quickey,” saying it stems from a cease and desist order he once received from them.

AIME appears to be fighting the National Association of Mortgage Brokers for membership, and Casa posts regular commentary about NAMB with the same aforementioned flair, using a mixture of strategy and alarm.

“There is a marketing sense to everything I do,” Casa explained to me during lunch one recent afternoon at HousingWire headquarters in Dallas. “Talk to any mortgage broker about their fear and mix that with people willing to put themselves out there on Facebook.”

A group of mortgage brokers, led by Casa, recently decided to stand up against the way things have always been in wholesale lending, thus creating Brokers Rallying Against “Whole-tail” Lending.

BRAWL’s basic premise is that some wholesale lenders steal clients from brokers by cross selling to borrowers through their own retail channel and are therefore unsafe, while others are “good” lenders that avoid these practices.

Then the movement started naming names, and the real conflict began as companies fought to defend their practices.

AIME also accused NAMB of not standing up for brokers and defending them against lenders on the “bad” list.

But despite the conflict between the two groups, underneath the surface, the two trade groups might just be able to get along.

Casa believes AIME can coexist peacefully with NAMB, not unlike the Mortgage Bankers Association and the American Bankers Association. And despite his social media grandstanding, he may have a point.

I spoke to NAMB Executive Director Valerie Saunders and Board President Richard Bettencourt in a conversation that took a different direction than the one I had with Casa. The suite of public services NAMB offers members, and even nonmembers, is deep – office supply discounts, tech products, health care – some of which AIME doesn’t do.

Bettencourt is a champ at the lobbying game, meeting with Ginnie Mae to talk VA cash-outs and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to discuss QM ATR. In 2019, Bettencourt plans to tackle broker regulations on points and fees, flood insurance reform and the impact of federal regulations on condo sales in Florida.

“Our mandate is to help brokers in any way, shape or form,” he told me. “That’s what a trade group does. We’re not here to pick winners, that’s not what a trade group does.”

Casa applauds NAMB lobbying efforts and admits it’s not an immediate focus for AIME.

“I personally think there are bigger priorities to focus on,” he said. “Brokers need tech if they want to survive. And what will happen to us if brokers go out of business?”

And technology is one thing both trade groups agree on. Both NAMB and AIME launched new tech tools to members.

“We are always looking for ways to make mortgage lending more efficient for brokers,” Saunders said, herself a broker since 2006. “Pre-2008 people weren’t as concerned about keeping administrative costs low. Today, business owners are always looking for ways to keep overhead low, which includes minimal non-revenue generating support staff, greater reliance on technology and doing whatever it takes to keep your doors open.”

And while 2019 will be difficult for all lenders, not just brokers, there are rays of hope for those who are prepared.

“2019 looks like it’s going to be a year of a lot of disruption, a lot of consolidation, lots of folks getting out,” Movement Mortgage CEO Casey Crawford said when he recently acquired a big piece of Lennar’s mortgage arm, Eagle Home Mortgage. “A lot of people will be taking advantage of a lot of that opportunity in the marketplace.”

So where will the broker fit into this? In the brief video interview on HousingWire.com, Das discussed why being “deeply entrenched” in the purchase mortgage market will be key to success in 2019.