Each month, National Mortgage Professional Magazine will focus on one of the industry’s top players in our “Mortgage Professional of the Month” feature. This month, we had a chance to chat with Mat Ishbia, national sales manager for United Wholesale Mortgage. In his role as national sales manager, Mat oversees sales staff, customer acquisition and retention, and all company expansion efforts. His efforts have made United Wholesale Mortgage (UWM) one of the top 10 wholesale lenders in the industry. He is no stranger to the secondary market or the operations side of the business. When it comes to evaluating market conditions, monitoring interest rates or reviewing loan files, Mat’s experience is sure to find the best scenario for each broker working with UWM to obtain maximum commission.
How did you first get involved in the mortgage industry?
After graduating from Michigan State University, I was looking for a company where I could utilize my skills and could grow. I received an opportunity to join a growing local company with room to move up. United Wholesale Mortgage (UWM) was looking for a niche and an identity, and with the dedication of a great team, we were able create it together. I always wanted to be involved with a company that was shooting for the sky, and at UWM, that was the idea. They wanted to be number one and were open to people coming in with fresh ideas. I started on the ground floor and worked in almost every department, from set up to secondary marketing to sales and everything in between.
I worked each day, thinking of what I would do when I eventually got my shot to make the decisions and steer the company. At the end of 2005, I got the opportunity, and at that time, we were a small player in the wholesale world. With the help of all the wonderful people at UWM, we have grown to the national level that we are at today.
What keeps you in the mortgage business and drives you to continue to support the mortgage broker?
I feel that the mortgage broker community is essential to serving consumers at the highest level, and with our support, brokers can offer excellent customer service to their clients. Losing the mortgage broker, which I don’t think will ever occur, would be the worst thing that could happen to the mortgage business. Brokers are the people who connect with so many consumers, helping them to achieve the American dream of homeownership. That care and concern for the borrowers is something that many large institutions just cannot provide and mortgage brokers do an excellent job of that.
As a mortgage broker, do you feel that it is important to have a deep knowledge of the secondary market side of the business?
I believe it is critical for all people in the mortgage industry to truly understand the loan process, from start to finish, and the finish is well beyond the closing. It is short-sided to not recognize that a loan that doesn’t perform or that goes delinquent is not only costly to the borrower and the lender, but the effects are much farther reaching. We at UWM believe it is a privilege to get a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan and we treat our ability to offer this product with the utmost respect. We expect our broker network to also recognize this, and know that we are in this industry together and that every loan matters.
As a sales manager of a company who works with some of the most successful brokers in the country, is focusing on delivering the lowest rate a successful strategy?
I believe that mortgage brokers should focus their time and effort on one important thing and that is reaching out to as many borrowers as possible and handling them to the best of their ability. Spending your time monitoring rates, which none of us have any control of, is, in my opinion, taking time away from originating files, providing great service to your customers, and working for more referrals. So, if I were a mortgage broker, I would focus exclusively on origination and when you see a rate that works for your customer, lock it in and focus on the next loan. Building your business isn’t about rates, it is about being a financial professional and building a solid book of business that you can service for years to come.
We all know that many lenders have opted to go strictly retail, leaving the wholesale marketplace with a lack of lenders. Why has UWM remained committed to the mortgage broker community since 2001?
We are an organization committed to being a major player in the wholesale market for years and years to come. We once were a broker here at UWM, and we realized that brokers weren’t provided many of the luxuries that direct lenders and banks were being allowed. We set out to change that problem by providing brokers the level of service, access to underwriters, and open lines of communication to always know what’s going with their loans, so they can keep their customers and Realtors informed at all times. This level of service has helped many brokers in our network grow their business to a level that they didn’t believe was possible. They have done that by impressing Realtors and borrowers to the point of receiving more referrals than ever before. These brokers have figured out that closing more loans and building a strong business is more important than chasing the highest yield spread premium. A broker who works smarter will gain more referrals and ultimately, be in a stronger financial position.
Tell us about the unique business culture you and your team created at UWM.
At UWM, we have a unique business culture that is based on work ethic and a positive attitude. Every employee at UWM has bought into these core principles and has helped make us a great place to work. At UWM, our daily operations are very simple, from sales to underwriting to closing.
The account executive’s responsibilities are to respond to broker questions and make calls to them about our speed and service. Our account executives (AEs) are different than most. Not only do they answer their inbound call, but they make outbound calls to broker shops and see if there are any FHA loans, we can help them close fast. They don’t leave without making sure every loan officer’s e-mail or call is returned. Each day, our underwriting staff gets a handful of loans from their assigned AE and their job is to underwrite them in a timely fashion and provide top notch service to the brokers who have questions pertaining to their submitted files. The closers get the files, and within 24 hours, they have already sent out the closing docs and communicated directly with the title company to confirm that the closing is set and everything needed has been provided. Our entire team is committed to making brokers feel like mortgage bankers. With the level of customer service and accessibility we provide, our brokers always know what is going on with their loans. Each person at UWM understands that the brokers are the key to our business, and we go above and beyond each day to let them know how much we appreciate these business relationships.
What would you say is the mortgage industry's most underutilized loan program?
The industry’s most underutilized program is the FHA streamline. It is a great way to make sure that your borrower always has the best available rate. The streamline is an entitlement that is granted to customers who close on FHA loans. The insurance that the customer pays entitles them to a streamline refinance that will offer the lowest available rate. There is no income qualification, sometimes no appraisal required, and as long as the borrower makes all their mortgage payments on time, then they qualify. Along with the streamline, the government 3/1 adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) is another product that, if used correctly, can save consumers a lot of money and help them have the lowest payment at all times. The FHA 3/1 ARM is unlike the sub-prime ARMs as with the government ARM, you can always refinance, regardless of property values dropping or loss of income. The rate doesn’t change for three years and after the three years, it can only go up one percent annually and there are no pre-payment penalties. The caps on the FHA 3/1 Treasury ARM are 1/1/5 and a two percent margin, which means that if the borrower’s start rate is 3.75 percent, the maximum their rate can be on the change date three years later is 4.75 percent, which is still well below the fixed rates right now. This product, if used in conjunction with the streamline, is a powerful tool to help many brokers originate more loans and many consumers have a lower payment.
As the sales manager for one of the top 10 wholesalers, can you share any insights, philosophies, books or any other strategies that can help the mortgage broker community?
I am a big believer of under promising and over delivering. That is what UWM was built on and what I personally believe in. No matter what I am doing, I always shoot to exceed the expectations that I set. I believe that your word is one thing you cannot compromise in this industry, and we are focused at UWM on delivering on our word each day. We advertise our 24- to 48-hour turn times and we always come through within that time frame or before. Our submissions closing five to seven business days is something we offer and if the brokers want to participate on their end, we make that happen for them.
Our readers are encouraged to contact us by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration in being featured in a future “Mortgage Professional of the Month” column.
For more information on United Wholesale Mortgage, visit www.uwmco.com.