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Rocket Mortgage Responds to UWM’s Broker Ultimatum

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include a response from Austin Niemiec, EVP of Rocket Pro TPO.

During a Facebook Live broadcast on Thursday, United Wholesale Mortgage announced that the company would be re-entering the jumbo mortgage market. That would be newsworthy in and of itself, but UWM President and CEO Mat Ishbia also issued an ultimatum to the company's partners: as of March 15, UWM will no longer partner with brokers who also work with Rocket Mortgage and Fairway Independent Mortgage Corp.

According to Ishbia, the move was made because of alleged actions by Fairway and Rocket that he claims are "hurting the broker channel" and "putting brokers out of business."

In a press release, a UWM spokesperson said the ultimatum was made in response to "Rocket Mortgage and Fairway Independent Wholesale participating in actions including soliciting loan officers away from brokers and working directly with real estate agents to cut brokers out of the entire process."

"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 in his state-of-the-business address on Facebook, which included other industry-related announcements. "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."

MReport reached Austin Niemiec, EVP of Rocket Pro TPO, who issued the following response:

"The incredible growth of Rocket Pro TPO, which had a 125% increase in business in 2020, clearly has Shore Mortgage very concerned. Today’s move decimates the idea of the free and open market that is so critical to the broker community. We continue to advocate for the right of brokers and consumers to choose how they secure home financing. We do not support restricting consumers’ options—whether it is through economic and social pressure or intimidation tactics."

He continued, "As we have said repeatedly, a broker’s power is in their ability to choose the best option for their client. By attempting to manipulate the market and have loan officers swear allegiance, sacrificing control as business owners to one company—with financial penalties if they stray—you harm their ability to compete. This move only benefits one company, to the detriment of thousands in the broker community and their clients."

And concluded, "At Rocket Pro TPO, we will continue to invest in our broker partners, like we did with our national broker directory and Super Bowl campaign. In 2021, we have committed more than $100 million to broker technology and will be investing more than $1 billion in marketing campaigns to help raise awareness for Rocket technology and the experience that independent mortgage professionals can leverage. We value the role of competition in the marketplace. It brings innovation and a better experience to the table. We look forward to expanding our growing portfolio of broker partners in the weeks, months, and years to come."

Editor's note: At the time of publication Fairway Independent had not responded to our request for comment.

About Author: Christina Hughes Babb

Christina Hughes Babb is a reporter for DS News and MReport. A graduate of Southern Methodist University, she has been a reporter, editor, and publisher in the Dallas area for more than 15 years. During her 10 years at Advocate Media/Dallas Magazine, she published thousands of articles covering local politics, real estate, development, crime, the arts, entertainment, and human interest, among other topics. She has won two national Mayborn School of Journalism Ten Spurs awards for nonfiction, and has penned pieces for Texas Monthly, Salon.com, Dallas Observer, Edible, and the Dallas Morning news, among others.
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