In the legal field, virtual litigation is thought to be here to stay, vaccine or no vaccine. And as the pandemic continues, and remote hiring continues for lenders, CEOs, owners, and managers are grappling with the thought of having scattered workforces going forward, and there will be no, “Okay, everyone back to the office!” when people were hired thousands of miles away. And housing is reacting: With 70+ millennials running around, and housing starts and building permits showing about 1.5 million units a year being built, there’s a shortage! Another reason why inventory is so tight? A good portion of housing starts are tear-downs, which means a new structure is replacing an older one, so there is no net change in housing inventory. There are creative ways around that. For example, in Louisiana here’s a former bank converted into a home (asking $700k). There are also creative ways to do business, or attempt to influence others in ways they do business, and yesterday United Wholesale’s Mat Ishbia generated some tumult on an average Thursday for brokers (and the wholesale channel) and created a pother. (By the way, to listen to the audio version of today’s commentary, please click here.)
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Choices in the Wholesale Channel
Poor loanDepot, Flagstar, CMG, Sierra Pacific, and others that weren’t mentioned yesterday despite having both wholesale and retail divisions.
Mat Ishbia, the CEO of United Wholesale Mortgage, broadcast, “…at UWM, we’re not helping those, that help them. If you work and send loans and send business to Fairway Independent or Rocket Mortgage, and about 25 percent of the broker channel work with either of those lenders, so about 75 percent can ignore this whole point… if you work with them, you can’t work with UWM anymore, effective immediately. So you can’t work with UWM if you work with those guys. I can’t stop you, but I am not going to help you help the people who are hurting the broker channel, and that is what is going on now. We don’t need to fund Fairway Independent or Rocket Mortgage to try to put brokers out of business. We don’t need to do that. If you want to do that, it’s your own deal, no hard feelings, but you can’t work with UWM anymore. Owners, you have until March 15 to sign an addendum saying you won’t work with those two lenders…”
And a note was sent out. “If there was ever any doubt that UWM is all in for the wholesale channel, today’s Facebook Live announcement should put it to rest. (There is) significantly sharpened pricing across the board along with substantial expansion of product offerings and a simplified rate sheet, giving all brokers even more of a competitive advantage. Prime Jumbo launches on March 17th, LTV up to 89.99%. And rallying our partners to protect their own long-term business by acknowledging that two lenders, Quicken Loans/Rocket Mortgage and Fairway Independent, have the opposite focus.
“Why are we doing this? Simply put, these companies are not focused on supporting the wholesale channel long term and they are attacking loan officers and real estate agents to cut the broker out. As such, they go against all that we stand for, including our collective goal to help grow channel market share to 33% by 2025, a goal that becomes much harder to attain when our partners are helping to fund their own competition.
“Which is why, if you’re also all in for the wholesale channel, we’re asking you to review the acknowledgment… All company owners who want their company to continue doing business with UWM must e-sign the acknowledgment by midnight on March 15th, 2021. It states that you will no longer send any loans to either Quicken Loans/Rocket Mortgage or Fairway Independent once you have closed out any already submitted or pre-locked loans in your pipeline.”
Mat Ishbia emailed, “We are 100% supportive of the broker channel and always have been. To see two companies attack the brokers, by going after realtors and Loan Originators in underhanded ways, is tough to watch. We simply made the decision that we can’t stop them but we won’t support brokers that are funding these companies. There are 73 other great wholesale lenders, so plenty of options and you can either work with UWM and the 73, or Fairway/Rocket and the 73 lenders. There are plenty of options out there and it doesn’t have to be UWM, but we aren’t supportive or companies trying to hurt the wholesale channel. There is nothing that those two lenders bring to the broker channel that brokers can’t get elsewhere. And with those companies focused on eliminating mortgage brokers, we had to take a stand to protect the wholesale channel and make sure consumers can always find a great mortgage broker. We are proud to be ALL IN on the broker channel and will continue to invest billions in making sure brokers can win long term as they partner with realtors and consumers each day.”
Steve Jacobson, Fairway’s CEO, had some thoughts. “Fairway continues to serve our clients, our teammates, and our industry. We can control what we do; we can’t control what competitors do. Fairway will play on, supporting brokers and consumers with their alternatives, and never has nor ever will restrict the options of others. Brokers should have their choice as to which lender to use, just as originators have always had a choice of which company to work for. Should any company, or any person, dictate choice in mortgage lending, whether it is for a broker or their client, and take away transparency? When choices are dictated, who is trying to be the winner here, the company, or the consumer client? Fairway believes in doing what is best for the consumer. And we respect those preferences and humbly work each day to earn the trust and respect of our client, whether that is our teammates or our broker partners.”
Rocket’s response? Austin Niemiec, EVP at Rocket Pro TPO, sent out a note to brokers. “We will never take away choice because it’s what moves our business forward. We value your partnership and look forward to bringing you the best from Rocket ProSM TPO. Because actions speak louder than words.
“The incredible growth of Rocket ProSM TPO, which had a 125% increase in business in 2020, clearly has UWM 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.
“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.
“At Rocket ProSM TPO, we will continue to invest in our broker partners, like we did with our national Broker Directory and Super Bowl campaign… “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.”
NAMB President, Kimber White, wrote, “We’re not sure this is even legal. It certainly isn’t ethical. And it doesn’t represent the American way of free enterprise, countering the spirit of freedom and independence that is the very foundation of our broker businesses. You should be allowed to work with whomever you want and who offers the best product and customer service. Not a company that dictates your business model to you. At NAMB, we support all lenders and your choice for whomever best supports you, your business, and your borrowers.”
Marx Sterbcow, Managing Attorney with The Sterbcow Law Group LLC, observed, “Hopefully all interested parties will view the antitrust laws on the FTC website. I suggest that state AGs, or worse, the FTC, will be very interested in this, and be very interested in any documentation in their possession from UWL and any mortgage brokerages who stop using Quicken/Fairway. And the interested parties should consider that consumer groups may be up in arms when a consumer goes to mortgage broker, who is signed with Quicken or Fairway, and their prices beat UWM, but the mortgage broker steers to UWM because he/she doesn’t want to pay a $5k fine for brokering it to the wrong party.”
Attorney Brian Levy relayed, “In addition to the antitrust concerns, this move by UWM will also highlight the RESPA issues I raised in one of my first Mortgage Musings (see Edition #2: RESPA, a whole(sale) lot of trouble (mortgagemusings.com)). One has to ask what a broker is receiving in return from UWM to agree to exclude the other wholesalers.”
While talk in the origination space centered around the UWM announcement, it had no impact on the fixed-income markets. Investors were much more interested in Fed Chairman Powell remaining coy about any meaningful policy changes during his appearance at a virtual Wall Street Journal Jobs Summit. Expectations were that the Fed is looking to contain longer term yields, but instead the Fed Chairman said that the central bank believes it is far from accomplishing its goals, suggesting that monetary policy will not be adjusted in the near term. He added that he was unconcerned about the recent rise in yields, saying the central bank sees no imminent sustained increase in inflation. Many viewed it as him failing to give reassurance to what has been an increasingly volatile bond market recently. Accordingly, the yield curve pulled back in curve steepening fashion, including the 10-year closing the day up 8 bps from where it started, while the MBS basis ended the day wider.
This first Friday of the month means the February employment report: Nonfarm Payrolls were 379k, much higher than expected, the Unemployment Rate came in at 6.2 percent, and Hourly Earnings were +.2 percent. We’ve also received the January trade deficit ($68.2 billion). Later this morning brings remarks from Atlanta Fed President Bostic before Fed speakers go into the blackout period ahead of the March 16/17 FOMC meeting. Today’s MBS purchase schedule sees the Desk conducting two operations, one for $3.1 billion UMBS30 1.5 percent and 2 percent and the other for $1.8 billion GNII 2 percent and 2.5 percent. After the very strong employment data, Agency MBS prices are worse .375-.5 and the 10-year is yielding 1.63 after closing yesterday at 1.55 percent, mostly on continued pandemic recovery chatter.
Rushmore Loan Management Services is seeking an AVP, Quality Control to support the Correspondent Lending business. Candidate(s) should have knowledge of Correspondent Lending with specific focus on Quality Control or Compliance. Please e-mail resumes to Carla Holliman.
A wholesaler that is approved in over 45 states, and founded over 20 years ago, is searching for AEs and sales teams nationwide. This company is well-capitalized with Fannie and Freddie approvals, and is a GNMA approved seller/servicer. The company’s average monthly funding per AE has consistently been over $8mm (thought to be an industry record). The company has tremendous growth capability, and is looking for sales teams to cover a vast, untouched territories throughout the nation as well as AEs who want the tools to increase their production. If you are interested in working for an organization that understands success is more than focusing on just top producers, then this is the place for you. Additionally, this company offers amazing growth opportunity, unprecedented level of concierge service, aggressive compensation plan and competitive pricing (consistently ranked 5 to 10 on Loansifter). Contact Chrisman LLC’s Anjelica Nixt with a resume for forwarding if you are interested; please specify the opportunity.
Are you an extraordinary recruiter, looking to work with and become part of a growth oriented executive team? A dynamic, 15-year-old independent mortgage lender, currently licensed in 10 states is searching for a Vice President of Talent Acquisition. This is your opportunity to join a winning team that gives you a decision-making voice. The Executive Management Team has been together 14 years, and is focused on an employee-centric culture, fun environment to work, and providing "above and beyond" service to its mortgage partners. The average employee tenure is over six and half years, and they are seeking like-minded team members who want a company they can call home! The ideal candidate is a talented recruiter who can attract top mortgage sales and operational talent. This can be a remote position with an attractive salary and bonus plan. If you have successful recruiting experience, entrepreneurial, able to work independently, with a proven track record, this could be the ideal position for you. Qualified candidates should send their resume in confidence to Chrisman LLC’s Anjelica Nixt; please specify the opportunity.
“HomeLight is the essential software platform that top agents need to compete and win in this new world of ever-changing technology. We offer mortgage products that are able to transform any buyer into a cash buyer. Unlike other mortgage lenders, we underwrite the buyer upfront and within 24 hours of receiving their application. In addition to providing the option to turn our buyers into cash buyers, we back our buyers with a $100k earnest deposit guarantee to the seller. There are no hidden or surprise lender fees to our buyers, we charge no lender fees or appraisal fees. If you believe that most problems should be solved using technology or smarter processes, HomeLight is the team for you. Homelight is hiring Underwriters, Loan Officers as well as our first Director of Risk and Mortgage Operations Trainer. Visit our career site to learn more and apply or submit your resume directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.”
“Castle & Cooke Mortgage has a plan, and we’re sticking to it! While many companies are hoping to grow in 2021, we are planning to grow strategically while maintaining our industry-leading service levels. We are very pleased to announce the addition of Rusty Tucker, who will lead our Consumer Direct team in the Kansas City market with a focus on serving the great Midwest. With an incredibly talented support team by his side, Rusty is looking to methodically build his production team with individuals hungry for success, regardless of background or experience. Kansas City is now our third Consumer Direct center, joining Draper (Utah) and Dallas (Texas). If you are interested in joining the cause with Rusty, or as part of our other Consumer Direct centers, please reach out now to Christi Fullerton (801-461-7104) or visit https://www.castlecookemortgage.com/careers.”
First, congratulations to Shamrock Home Loans who was recognized as the 5th highest ranked Mortgage Company To Work at in the United States by National Mortgage News. “If you want to understand why Shamrock is the future of mortgage banking, email us or check out our newest TV Ad designed specifically for Branch Managers and Loan Officers explaining our core purpose. You start with us on your first day as a stranger, but return to your home market as family. Inquire today to learn more.