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Rocket's Battle With a Wholesale Mortgage Lender Is Escalating

A battle between two of the largest players in the wholesale mortgage space is quickly ratcheting up.

United Wholesale Mortgage Holdings (NYSE: UWMC) said during a recent Facebook Live event that it would no longer work with real estate brokers doing business with Rocket Companies (NYSE: RKT), The Detroit News reported yesterday.

United Wholesale CEO Mat Ishbia called Rocket out for trying to lure real estate agents away from brokers by using incentives. Ishbia also accused Fairway Independent Mortgage of similar practices.

"There are two companies that are underhandedly trying to take the lifeblood of the mortgage brokers by soliciting the loans officers and the real estate agents," Ishbia told The Detroit News. "We don't agree. We made the decision that if you want to work with them, we are not going to help you guys. Simple."

Image source: Getty Images.

Wholesale mortgage lenders provide financing to third parties such as independent mortgage brokers to essentially go out and find the borrowers.

Rocket, the No. 1 mortgage lender in the U.S., is dominant in the direct-to-consumer mortgage space, but is apparently wading deeper into the wholesale space, United Wholesale's main segment.

Having gone public last year, Rocket has been working to show investors that it can generate strong earnings even in a rising-rate environment, which is generally less fruitful for the mortgage industry. Part of that strategy involves grabbing a more-dominant market share.

Austin Niemiec, executive vice president of Rocket's wholesale broker platform, did not shy away from the challenge.

"Clearly, Mat Ishbia and UWM don't want to compete with us anymore," he said. "It limits [brokers'] superpower, limits their choice. Ultimately, that hurts them and is self-serving. It helps only one company and Mat Ishbia. Brokers realize that."

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