By KIMBERLEY HAAS
The new executive vice president of Rocket Pro TPO took to social media on Tuesday to question the actions of United Wholesale Mortgage’s CEO.
Mike Fawaz, who served as senior vice president of sales before recently being promoted to EVP, published a piece called “Mortgage Brokers – Still Truly Independent?” on LinkedIn where he said UWM’s President and CEO Mat Ishbia believes they have “pricing power” over brokers.
“If he’s right, that presents a very clear danger to America’s mortgage brokers and their clients. One of the most powerful benefits of being a mortgage broker is independence. Independence of choice and real competition is the only effective tool a broker has to ensure someone else doesn’t dictate margin and terms to them,” Fawaz wrote.
Fawaz talked about UWM Loan Shield, saying “the only thing that is getting the ‘shield’ is Ishbia’s profits.”
“After years of bragging that UWM either doesn’t sell servicing or, if they do, they sell it with a non-solicit – ‘Loan Shield’ slams the door closed on that promise. Now, if a broker doesn’t want UWM to sell their servicing to buyers, without any protection, their clients must pay 30 basis points. Given today’s average loan sizes, that’s roughly $1,000 a loan!” Fawaz wrote.
Fawaz also talked about the ultimatum that leaders at UWM issued a year and a half ago designed to stop brokers from using their competition, Rocket and Fairway Independent Mortgage. The ultimatum has been challenged in court and UWM has had success in dismissing claims of fraud and promissory estoppel.
“Rocket Pro TPO fundamentally believes in broker choice and broker freedom. We don’t tell brokers which lenders they can, and can’t, use to find the best deals for their clients. We don’t see ourselves as the self-appointed police for the industry. We earn market share by offering a great price, product, technology, and service. If a broker believes they can do better with another lender then they will, and should, take their business elsewhere,” Fawaz wrote.
Freedom is a fundamentally important issue to Fawaz, who grew up in Liberia and immigrated to the United States.
Fawaz sat down with The Mortgage Note for an interview recently.
“I always dreamt of being able to move to America and achieve this American dream that I watched on TV as a child. I’ll tell you, I was one of the lucky ones. I had an opportunity to move to this incredible country on March 3, 1998. It was a life-changing moment for myself,” Fawaz said. “I was given an opportunity as a human being to achieve good things and to be able to provide for my family.”
Fawaz said his leadership model is the same. He wants to give opportunities to as many people as he can.
“My number one goal is to continue to provide freedom for our broker partners,” Fawaz said.
Fawaz said he spent two years meeting with brokers who are partnered with Rocket Pro TPO – and those who are not – to learn about what they deal with on a daily basis.
“Our goal in 2023 is to continue that message that we are here to serve the broker community,” Fawaz said. “Every loan matters. More importantly, we are here to build relationships with the broker community and provide them with opportunities.”
Fawaz said they want to help improve the bottom line for brokers. Their Fee Freedom program covers the cost of credit report fees, saving brokers thousands of dollars per year.
“Our goal is to continue to provide freedom and optionality for our broker partners and all brokers across the country,” Fawaz said. “Fee Freedom is just the start of 2023 for us.”
Leaders at UWM have launched a similar program, partnering with CoreLogic Credco to offer brokers a flat fee of $37.35 for credit reports for up to two borrowers.
Fawaz took over the EVP role for Austin Niemiec, who is now the chief revenue officer of Rocket Mortgage.
This fall, Niemiec turned heads with his own opinion piece called “America’s Mortgage Brokers Face an Unprecedented Threat to their Independence.” He also complained about the actions of Ishbia and leaders at UWM.
“If Mat Ishbia and UWM were truly committed to the real kind of competition that benefits brokers and their clients, he wouldn’t use his lawyers to take away brokers’ options, and he wouldn’t celebrate the demise of other wholesale lenders…. which only further reduces broker choice,” Niemiec wrote.
At the time, Niemiec sat down with The Mortgage Note for an interview. He said brokers are having their choices stripped from them under UWM’s ultimatum agreement.
Rocket Pro TPO and UWM compete heavily for business.
In November, leaders at UWM announced they had surpassed Rocket Mortgage to become the number one overall mortgage lender in America after the companies released their financial results for Q3 2022.
Ishbia posted on LinkedIn last week that more than 20,000 loan officers joined the wholesale channel last year.
“I hear so many positive stories and feedback from our partners that made the choice to become independent, and I am excited for even more LOs to join the broker family in 2023,” Ishbia wrote.
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