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Bucking The Trend, UWM Is Hiring

Apr 11, 2023
Uwm front building with sign

Seeking to hire 500 workers during event Saturday at its headquarters in Pontiac, Mich.

After leading the wholesale mortgage industry in loan origination volume for two straight quarters, and announcing an eye-popping 54% share of the wholesale channel in the fourth quarter of 2022, United Wholesale Mortgage (UWM) is looking to hire.

The company said this week it will host a hiring event on Saturday at its headquarters in Pontiac, Mich., with the goal of adding as many as 500 new employees.

With many companies in the channel laying off workers or closing — the latest example being Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Home Point Capital, which last week agreed to sell its wholesale origination unit to Arizona-based The Loan Store and said it would lay off about 350 employees — you might think UWM is making a mistake.

 

 

You might also find it strange that a company that has reduced its staff by 30% — about 2,600 employees — through “natural attrition” since 2021 now wants to add hundreds of new staff members.

But if you ask UWM Chief Strategy Officer Alex Elezaj, he will set you straight.

“We’ve been hiring all along,” Elezaj said Tuesday during a telephone interview with NMP. “It’s been less numbers over a period of time, 50 to 100 new team members, but we really want to build up our pipeline as we continue to grow, build up our market share, and enter purchase season.”

In fact, he said bluntly, “being overstaffed by design is our business model. It’s how we’ve run our business for 37 years.” 

Elezaj said that, because of UWM’s aggressive business model, its financial fortunes are “just a lot less cyclical” than others in the industry and the hiring the company does is an investment in the future.

“In this market environment, the strength of our business model really shows,” he said. “When we are hiring people, a lot of these are entry-level positions. We’re investing in our people, training and developing them. It’s not like we need these 500 people to be impacting our business the first day, the first month, the first quarter.” 

He continued, “We don’t have that business model of ‘hire fast, fire fast.’ That’s not the way we do things. It’s a very calculated decision.”

In UWM’s business model, he said, “whether [mortgage] rates stay where they are today, go up a little or down a little, we’re not thinking about those rates when hiring our team members. Overall, we are planning the growth of the business.” 

That plan, led by UWM Chairman & CEO Mat Ishbia, is predicated on dominating the wholesale lending channel. That drive has seen the company’s share of the channel grow from 41% in the third quarter of last year to 54% in the fourth quarter. UWM also said it had an 11% share of the overall mortgage market that quarter. 

During an earnings call with analysts in March, Ishbia credited the company’s growth to its Game On pricing strategy, announced in June 2022. That Game On strategy, which dropped rates across the board by 50 to 100 basis points to beat the competition, helped lead the company to some impressive origination results.

Elezaj said those results are possible under any market conditions.

“2021 was an excellent mortgage year, and we did $87 billion in purchase originations,” Elezaj said. “In 2022, which was one of the most difficult years, we did almost $91 billion in purchase. If we have 8% to 10% of the overall market, … we still feel there’s tremendous upside. More and more people are using independent mortgage brokers, so it’s a very opportunistic market for us.”

“The reality is,” he continued, “we always have had and always will have competitive pricing. With everybody being here in Pontiac, it allows us to have a lower cost structure than our competitors. And we are able to pass those savings along to consumers.”

Saturday’s hiring event will be held between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. on UWM’s campus in Pontiac, and applicants do not need to have any experience. They do, however, need to be available to work at UWM’s headquarters. That means LOs laid off in other states are not eligible, unless they are willing to relocate.

“We don’t offer remote jobs,” Elezaj said. 

Those who do attend will find positions available “across the board,” he said, including in operations, information technology, loan origination, and customer service.

“I think people right now are just looking for great opportunities,” Elezaj said. “There’s a lot of uncertainty in the marketplace right now. At UWM, we can give them certainty of opportunity. We love to hire no-experience people and train them, develop them, and invest in them. We give them a great opportunity.”

About the author
David Krechevsky was an editor at NMP.
Published
Apr 11, 2023
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