Report: Broker Wars Driving New Fairway Business

Like Rocket Mortgage, Fairway Independent Mortgage is reporting increased interest from brokers after United Wholesale Mortgage launched the Broker Wars.

HousingWire reported today:

Since UWM president and CEO Mat Ishbia appeared on Facebook Live on March 4 and announced that brokers could not work with Fairway and Rocket Mortgage and still do business with UWM, Fairway has seen a dramatic uptick in business, according to its CEO, Steve Jacobson.

“We typically had one or two inquiries a week for the broker channel,” said Jacobson, who founded the lender in 1996. “We’re up over 100 inquiries since March 4.”

Fairway, which did about $3.5 billion in the wholesale channel in 2020 (compared to about $62 billion in retail), lost roughly 5% of its broker clients to UWM, according to company executives.

This reflects what Rocket Mortgage previously said, reporting 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.

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.