UWM offers legal support to brokers, accuses Rocket of ‘connections’ with Hunterbrook report

In a message to mortgage brokers, United Wholesale Mortgage (UWM) defended itself from the Hunterbrook Media report that claims the lender orchestrated a scheme to steer loans. The wholesale lender said it’s offering legal support to partners in case they are sued and once again accused Rocket Mortgage of being behind the report, which the rival denies.

On April 2, Hunterbrook Media reported that over 8,600 loan officers at independent brokerages sent UWM more than 99% of their mortgages in 2023, more than double the number of partners sending 99% of their loans to the lender in 2020. Hunterbrook also claims that borrowers paid in UWM loans a total of $229 million more in closing costs over the past four years than the average-priced loan.

A lawsuit filed by borrowers on the heels of the report states that UWM created a ‘corrupt’ scheme with loyal brokers to send loans its way, applying excess fees and costs.

“If any of our partners get roped into their frivolous lawsuit, UWM will cover your attorneys’ fees in connection with these fraudulent claims,” the company said in a message on social media on Tuesday morning. “We have seen ‘ambulance chasing’ attorneys try to scare consumers and brokers.”

UWM claims that the Hunterbrook Media article, with “obvious connections” to Rocket Mortgage, has an author “pretending to be a ‘journalist’” who worked at a Rocket Mortgage-affiliated broker for the last five years—including while working on the report—, leaving only two months ago.

One of the authors, Matthew Termine, worked at the fintech mortgage brokerage Morty from 2019 to 2024, first as corporate counsel and then as vice president of legal, regulatory, and compliance. He left in February. 

A spokesperson at Hunterbrook Media told HousingWire that the UWM article is “based on facts,” showing that UWM “had lied” about the independence of its mortgage brokers, and UWM CEO and founder Mat Ishbia’s response is a “baseless conspiracy theory” as “neither Rocket [Mortgage] nor [its founder Dan] Gilbert even agreed to provide Hunterbrook Media with a comment on the story.”

Regarding Termine, the Hunterbrook Media spokesperson said the lawyer exposed the Paul Manafort loan scandal, his prior reporting led to multiple criminal convictions, including that of a bank CEO, and he didn’t work for Rocket. “He worked for an independent mortgage broker that actually shopped between options. But it sounds like, in UWM’s telling, all brokers are just fronts for lender partners,” a spokesperson at Hunterbrook said in a statement.

This is not the first time UWM has accused Rocket of being behind the report. On Thursday, Ishbia told reporters during a Phoenix Suns/Mercury campus tour that the report was funded by the competitor and its founder Gilbert.

In response, Rocket Mortgage spokesperson Aaron Emerson stated that the company and Gilbert had no involvement in the report.

“Dan Gilbert and Rocket Mortgage have no investment, other financial interests or relationship to Hunterbrook Media. The professional investigation speaks for itself and appears to be based on factual, public information uncovered by the journalists who conducted the investigation,” Emerson said.

Rocket did not provide additional comments on Tuesday’s UWM message to brokers.

The accusations

After analyzing millions of federal and state records, Hunterbrook Media concluded that thousands of LOs sent UWM virtually all of their mortgage loans even though UWM was often not the cheapest option for homebuyers.

In its message to broker partners, UWM said that it’s a lie to imply that there is “something wrong” with brokers sending most of their loans to a specific lender. On average, the company said that mortgage brokers use 3-5 lenders and evaluate speed, service, rate, and cost/fees. 

“It’s not uncommon nor illegal for a broker to send most or all their business to a specific lender. This is not unique to UWM brokers. Nor this industry,” the message states, adding that UWM is audited by multiple regulations every year, and there are zero findings like the ones indicated in the report. 

UWM, which risks losing business and having its reputation affected by the report, claims, “We are 100% confident nothing needs to change or will change because of Hunterbrook’s disinformation. The only way they win is if UWM or brokers change behavior.”

Regarding its “All-in” initiative – which prohibits brokers doing business with UWM from sending loans to rivals Rocket Mortgage and Fairway Independent Mortgage Corp– the company said that it “has been successful in each lawsuit resolved to date, including two separate federal judges ruling in February and March that cases brought should be dismissed. 

One of the claims from the Hunterbrook Media report and borrowers’ lawsuit is that UWM is overcharging borrowers. 

In response, the company said its average rate for the $97.6 billion of mortgages sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2023 was 6.51%, compared to the 6.81% average for the 30-year fixed rate mortgage.

Freddie Mac’s PMMS is focused on conventional, conforming, fully amortizing home purchase
loans for borrowers who put 20% down and have excellent credit. Lenders are a mix of credit unions, commercial banks, and mortgage lending companies.

UWM ended 2023 as the top U.S. mortgage company, with more than $108 billion in home loans produced in the period. It exceeded Rocket Mortgage, which generated $78.7 billion in closed loan volume last year

UWM’s parent company non-GAAP adjusted net loss was $57.1 million in 2023, compared to a profit of $719.4 million in the previous year.  

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