United Wholesale Mortgage CEO Mat Ishbia went on CNBC on Wednesday to assert he is the good guy in the BrokerWars by standing up for brokers and “for what is right.”
“I know how different people want to portray it, but the decision was not about doing things exclusively,” Ishbia said on an interview on CNBC. “We basically said ‘Hey mortgage brokers, 12,000 of you guys, if you’re partnering with Rocket, they’re out there doing things – maybe you call it underhandedly, maybe in a gray area, to affect consumers and brokers.’ What we’re saying is, listen I can’t stop them, but if you’re going to work with them, don’t work with us.”
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’s announcement came 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.
Ishbia said that out of 12,000 brokers, fewer than 500 chose to continue working with Rocket.
“The reality is, brokers are all in,” Ishbia said. “They understand that Matt and UWM is here to protect the broker channel and consumers because consumers get lower rates when they go through a broker. That’s not an opinion, that’s a fact. … We just stood up for what is right, and we are going to do what is right.”
Rocket and Fairway, on the other hand, have disputed UWM’s rosy view of how the Broker Wars are going for UWM.
Fairway told HousingWire this week that the ultimatum had spurred an increase in interest in their business among brokers. And Rocket reports its brokerage business is up 40 percent since UWM launched the Broker Wars. Austin Niemiec, Rocket Pro TPO vice president, said that 22 of Rocket’s 25 largest broker partners rejected the UWM ultimatum.
The Detroit News reported last week that roughly 65 percent of 4,600 independent mortgage brokers took UWM’s side in the dispute, signing an agreement not to do business with Rocket Mortgage or Fairway Independent. The News reports that of the 4,600 who did business with both UWM and Rocket, 3,000 accepted the ultimatum, 400 declined and about 1,200 did not respond.
UWM says it has 10,400 broker partners – down from 12,000 just last week. This is significant because 100 percent of UWM’s business comes from the broker channel.