The rise of IMBs

Flexible, tech-driven IMBs takeover market share from large banks


When the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released the 2019 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data there was one key shift that was evident from the start – independent mortgage banks clearly stepped up their game. 

Wells Fargo, which had long held the No. 1 spot for mortgage originators, had fallen. Not only did Quicken Loans surpass the mega bank in total originations, which it had been doing for some time already, but United Wholesale Mortgage also surpassed Wells, placing the bank in a solid third place in terms of total originations. 

Quicken Loans announced in early 2018 that it officially surpassed Wells Fargo as the No. 1 lender in the U.S. Later, UWM announced it beat Wells Fargo in originations for small sections of the year in 2019, such as the first quarter and in April. UWM also announced it was on track to beat Wells Fargo in 2020 due to strong growth just before the COVID-19 pandemic. 

But these weren’t the only notable shifts in the most recent HMDA data. Fairway Independent Mortgage rose one spot to No. 5 on the list, with 147,000 total originations in 2019 versus 110,000 in 2018, while Freedom Mortgage saw a significant gain after it rose from No. 14 in 2018 with 58,000 total originations, to the No. 9 spot in 2019 with 110,000 total originations.

After Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase came in as the No. 4 lender. Three more nonbank lenders take over after that with Fairway, loanDepot and Caliber Home Loans taking over the next three spots before Bank of America files in at No. 8., followed by Freedom Mortgage. 

Comparing that to just a few years before, HMDA data shows that JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo all fell into the top 5 originators in 2016.

The shift is clear – borrowers are looking to independent mortgage bankers now more than ever, and the mega banks are falling behind. 

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