Group Opposes UWM Edict In Broker Wars

A consumer group launched a campaign designed to raise awareness among policymakers about the Broker Wars in an effort to put pressure on United Wholesale Mortgage over their refusal to work with brokers who do business with two competitors.

The Consumer Action for a Strong Economy created “Save Broker Choice,” which urges the public to contact state and federal representatives over the broker ban.

“The move reduces the number of companies that mortgage brokers are allowed to work with and, in turn, impacts the homeowners, prospective homebuyers, and those looking to refinance who are looking to secure the best interest rates and financing terms,” CASE says on its website. “Simply put, limiting options for brokers will cause consumers to lose out.

“American homeowners and prospective homebuyers – like all American consumers – deserve to have a competitive marketplace. They deserve choice.”

UWM announced earlier this month that it will force brokers to sign an agreement that they will not work with Rocket Mortgage or Fairway Independent Mortgage – or else be banned from work with UWM, the largest wholesale mortgage lender.

UWM CEO Mat Ishbia charged the two companies with “hurting the wholesale channel.” He accused Wisconsin-based Fairway Independent of “criticizing brokers … and not doing right by the broker channel,” while saying Detroit-based Rocket Mortgage is working with realtors to “circumvent brokers.”

UWM’s announcement comes a little more than a month after Rocket announced a new national broker directory on its website – allowing homebuyers and homeowners seeking to refinance to find local independent mortgage brokers to guide them through the process. Part of Rocket Pro TPO, the directory is designed to deepen Rocket Mortgage’s partnership with the broker community.

Rocket said this week that UWM’s decision is driven by “fear” of competition from Rocket, which has gained a larger share of the broker market in recent years. Last week, Rocket CEO Jay Farner said its brokerage business is up 40 percent in the last week.

The Save Broker Choice campaign urges the public to comment public officials via email through an automated site. A pre-written email with the subject line “Save Broker Choice!” reads:

“Mortgage brokers play an important role for consumers when it comes to purchasing a home or refinancing, improving their experience by streamlining what can be a stressful process. They leverage competition between big banks and other mortgage lenders to give American homebuyers and those looking to refinance more power to find better borrowing terms and rates. 

“But the largest mortgage wholesale company in the United States wants to take choice away from brokers – and consumers.

“United Wholesale Mortgage (UWM) CEO Mat Ishbia announced in a Facebook Live speech that mortgage brokers had to make a choice: work with UWM or work with two of its competitors  –  Rocket Pro TPO and Fairway Independent. Any broker who continues to work with UWM will now be required to sign an agreement stating that they will no longer solicit financing options for their clients (homebuyers and individuals looking to refinance) from Rocket Pro TPO or Fairway Independent.

“By cutting off access to Rocket and Fairway – two of the largest mortgage lenders in the country -borrowers will have fewer options, driving costs up.

“Mortgage brokers are in the business of finding the best deals for their clients, but UWM’s anti-competitive demand limits choice and sets a dangerous precedent for the entire mortgage industry.”