Quicken Loans Fighting “Smear Campaign” from Other Lenders

Quicken Loans has many fans and many detractors, both inside and outside of the financial sector. Over the summer, certain industry insiders took aim at the lending giant, a leader in mortgage originations nationally (often surpassing even Wells Fargo in volume) and the country’s largest nonbank lender. Quicken caught three United Shore Financial Services employees on video camera, papering the blocks around the Detroit-based Quicken’s campus with nasty flyer’s aimed at the company’s loan officers. They taped the flyers not just to telephone poles and other public spaces, but also to loan officers’ cars.

United Shore Financial Services is also based in Michigan, in Pontiac. The flyers claimed Quicken offers lower consumer mortgage rates and higher pay potential to outside mortgage brokers than in-house officers receive. Quicken’s in-house officers are referred to as its “mortgage bankers” within the company. The flyers also mocked Dan Gilbert’s company culture practices, which are internally referred to as Quicken’s “isms.” They suggested a new ism: “Treat strangers better than our mortgage bankers!”

Quicken’s security teams were able to match surveillance footage with United Shore employees’ profiles on LinkedIn. United Short might have had some motivation for criticizing Quicken’s policies for out-of-company brokers because United Shore relies entirely on independent mortgage brokers. The company’s CEO, Mat Ishbia, first acknowledged his employees passed out the flyers, then insisted the information on them was accurate, and finally questioned Quicken’s longstanding assertion it is the top direct-to-consumer mortgage company. Quicken responded it stands by the accuracy of its claims.

Not surprisingly, given Quicken’s longstanding support and presence in downtown Detroit, the lender immediately took to the airways to point out that not only were the flyers unpleasant, but they were, literally, litter. “Shore Mortgage employees were down here, putting out flyers and littering throughout the city, which we work pretty hard to make great,” said Quicken CEO Jay Farner. He continued, “It was disappointing to see” and added, “Someone was having their team members litter a bunch of crap.” He also pointed out that the information on the flyers was, at best, skewed, because it did not account for independent brokers’ compensation.

Ishbia responded, “Every piece of information on those flyers was true and accurate. They [United Shore employees] didn’t break any laws. They didn’t slander anyone.”

Quicken has faced criticism because it self-reports the data that leads to its ranking as the largest home mortgage lender in the country. According to a report released earlier this week from Inside Mortgage Finance, United Wholesale Mortgage, which operates as part of United Shore, is now the top nonbank purchase lender in America, followed by Quicken Loans. The list ranks lenders who buy mortgages after they have been originated, and the company released a statement observing that it could attribute nearly three-quarters of its loan volume to new home purchases, while Quicken Loans could only credit about a third of its business to this category.

Do you think United Shore did anything wrong?