May’s volume was notable for being the lowest on record for 5 years, but the difference between broker/wholesale volume and retail/direct was just as stark. For the fourth consecutive month now, brokers bore the brunt of declining volumes, down -25.8% vs. an -8.4% decline for retail. If nothing else it shows the continuing impact of smaller originators getting washed out by lower industry volumes and new licensing requirements.
As we suspected in last month’s report, we did indeed see retail units surpass wholesale units in May, with 54% of volume coming from retail/direct originations. Given that the downtrend the past 6 months has unambiguously hurt broker/wholesale volume more than retail, we’ll be looking closely to see if the increased volume in June (and hopefully the next few months as well) continues to favor retail or swings back in favor of brokers.
So where are lenders placing their bets? One way to look at it is with the fastest growing lenders in both retail and wholesale:
- Of the 5 fastest growing retail lenders, only one (Metlife) also has wholesale business, although they do happen to be the number 1 wholesaler
- Of the 5 fastest growing wholesale lenders, all five have retail originations as well, although none has more than 23% of business from retail
- Also of note, 2 of the largest wholesale lenders with the longest track record in the space, Bank of America and Financial Freedom, are flat and down -60% respectively in wholesale volume
In many ways today’s report illustrates what has long been considered a truism in the mortgage industry: wholesale is much faster to grow, but retail is where companies create lasting franchise value. We’re all in favor of a healthy industry with both retail and wholesale channels, but the trends right now are increasingly showing strain in the broker/wholesale side of the industry.
Be sure to click the link below to access the full report: