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Mortgage

In UWM’s war with Rocket, brokers must choose a side

Mat Ishbia's gambit has created two camps of mortgage brokers

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Before Thursday, March 4, John was an unabashed fan of United Wholesale Mortgage. His West Coast brokerage shop sent tens of millions of dollars in loans to the wholesale mortgage giant in recent years. He loved their turn times, found their pricing to be competitive, and had good things to say about his account executive. He also believes UWM President and CEO Mat Ishbia is sincere when he says the ultimatum was issued to protect the broker channel from existential threats, specifically from Rocket Mortgage and Fairway Independent Mortgage.

“It’s honestly an excellent company,” he said of UWM.

But as of Monday, he will no longer do business with the lender, which originated over $182 billion in mortgages last year and is easily the biggest producer within the space.

“The reason I do this, the reason I’m a broker, is because I believe in choice – it’s that simple,” said John, whose real name is being withheld by HousingWire so he can speak openly about his decision. “So Mat can talk about how he’s doing this to protect brokers and all, but I just felt like what he did is anti-choice, anti-consumer and it isn’t aligned with our values. So yeah, we’re not going to sign.”

Ishbia, whose company went public in January and is valued at $16.58 billion, made arguably the biggest hardball play in the history of the broker channel in issuing his ultimatum on Facebook Live. At stake is the business of about 3,000 brokers who use UWM, Rocket and/or Fairway.

In Ishbia’s estimation, these two companies, which both have retail operations, are trying to cut the broker out of the mortgage equation. Rocket is training real estate agents to originate loans, and Fairway is trying to poach loan officers, he claims. And if such moves go unchecked, brokers could find themselves an endangered species in a decade, Ishbia believes.

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