Nearly a year ago, United Wholesale Mortgage CEO Mat Ishbia issued an ultimatum— as part of the company’s “All-In” Initiative” – that restricted mortgage brokers who wanted to work with UWM from working with two of UWM’s top competitors, Rocket Pro TPO and Fairway Independent.
Essentially, the Ishbia plan restricts consumer and broker choice in the mortgage brokerage industry. The plan 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. In sum, curbing options for brokers will cause raise costs on consumers – it always does.
Now, a year later, Ishbia is demonstrating that he is taking the ultimatum seriously, filing lawsuits against independent mortgage brokers who worked with UWM’s competitors. The suits allege Kevron Investments and Mid Valley Funding & Inv. Inc continued to do business with Rocket Mortgage after signing a contract that forbade them from doing so.
These lawsuits come after an initial suit filed against America’s MoneyLine (AML).
These actions from UWM highlight their anti-consumer and anti-broker approach taken to impede first time home owners. Inhibiting choice, at any level of the home buying process prevents Americans from achieving this goal.
UWM’s “All-In” Initiative reduces the number of companies mortgage brokers can work with. It is anticompetitive and arguably creates a monopoly because it discourages mortgage brokers (and consumers) from seeking alternatives.
Shawn Nevin, the CEO of America’s Money Line agrees, calling UWM’s decision to file suit “anti-competitive and Anti-American.”
To make matters worse, this isn’t the first time that United Wholesale mortgage has harmed consumers. Last July, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that it would no longer collect the “Adverse Market Refinance Fee” is a big win for American homeowners looking to refinance their homes. The fee was created as a hedge against the potential of housing refinances failing during the pandemic, and the Biden Administration’s decision to no longer assess the 50-basis point fee (half a percent of a loan amount) will put money back in the pockets of American families to be saved or spent on other essentials
As a result, many large lenders eliminated the fee on all new refinances. Others, such as Rocket Pro TPO and MWF wholesale, eliminated the fee from loans that were already locked in.
But not all lenders were as willing to part ways with the fee. United Wholesale Mortgage (UWM), led by Mat Ishbia, opted for a more anti-consumer approach. Rather than eliminate this fee to help their consumers, the company explained they would only remove the fee on loans in process if brokers submitted a request to a designated email address.
The recent string of lawsuits against small brokerage companies highlight United Wholesale Mortgage’s disregard for small business and American consumers. By increasing the difficulty for consumers in restricting who mortgage brokers can work, UWM has intentionally added an obstacle to an already tumultuous process.
It is a positive development that even some analysts believe that UWM’s action is “anti-competitive” and “may actually turn mortgage brokers off to using their product.” It is a well-deserved for consequence for such an anti-consumer move. Nevin may be onto something, too, noting how he—and likely other brokers as well—were “misled” by non-enforcement of a “non-American antitrust provision.”
Nevin sums up the dilemma thusly:
“We are brokers—to have the right of choice. As independent brokers we need to be able to shop for the best terms and best programs for our clients, the American people.” We urge consumers and mortgage brokers to be wary of UWM’s tactics and ensure consumers have options available to them that can save increase choice and saves them money.