Monday’s Ignite Live webinar hosted by Rocket Pro TPO certainly came with its share of fireworks.
Rocket teased a big announcement on social media before the event, noting that executive vice president Mike Fawaz would “share about our commitment to freedom for our partners.” The ensuing revelation was a bombshell indeed, with Fawaz announced at the event that the company is offering to directly back brokers who look to defy the ultimatum set forth by United Wholesale Mortgage (UWM) in 2021.
UWM’s controversial policy calls for brokers partnering with the company to cease doing business with Rocket Mortgage and Fairway Independent Mortgage Corp., two of UWM’s foremost competitors. Agreeing to the policy without cutting ties to Rocket or Fairway could cost brokers financially, with UWM charging monetary penalties for any broker who breaks the ultimatum and declaring that it would take those who breach the policy to court.
One such shop, California-based America’s Moneyline, for example, was sued by UWM, with the latter claiming $2.8 million in liquidated damages. Several parts of a countersuit by America’s Moneyline were recently thrown out by a district court judge in Maryland, although an antitrust complaint was ruled valid.
For nearly two years, Rocket has largely refrained from lobbing salvos in retort and has stuck to questioning the legality and perceived anti-competitive slant of UWM’s policy. But Fawaz directly drew a line in the sand on Monday, declaring that “starting today, we stand behind brokers who want to use Rocket or Fairway, but fear [UWM owner] Mat Ishbia’s lawyers.”
Fawaz then introduced a new Rocket initiative, pointedly dubbed “Bully Shield,” which will cover not only financial penalties levied by UWM but court costs for any broker who does not wish to abide by UWM’s ultimatum. Moving forward, Fawaz said, the broker isn’t obligated to work with Rocket instead, but is then simply free to work with any lender they wish.
To take advantage of the new initiative, Fawaz said during Ignite Live that brokers need only to contact Rocket Pro TPO.