NEXA Mortgage, the largest mortgage brokerage in the country, this week cut ties with the Association of Independent Mortgage Experts (AIME), claiming the trade group fails to address bullying and lacks proper governance.
Mike Kortas, the controversial CEO and co-founder who himself is no stranger to starting online scraps, said other community members, including smaller brokers and AIME’s leaders, have attacked him, his company and loan officers on social media.
Kortas claims he asked AIME to create an ethics committee a year ago but was rebuffed.
“I have been begging, for a long time, to create an ethics committee for the community to stay what is known as a community,” Kortas said. “They (AIME leadership) keep constantly saying: ‘We’re working on it,’ and I keep offering to provide all my resources to help them. They don’t look.”
In response, a spokesperson for AIME said the trade group maintains a “dedicated ethics committee, established in early 2022 and consisting of five members.” (A review of AIME’s website found no mention of an ethics committee.)
NEXA, which has about nearly 1,900 loan officers nationwide, is not a sponsor of AIME but supports its activities and events, according to Kortas. Kortas said he is personally disassociating as a VIP member. Asked what happens with his LOs’ memberships, Kortas said it’s up to the LO whether they wish to remain as members.
As an example of the attacks he has received, Kortas cited a Facebook post made on Wednesday, Sep. 7 by Evan Wade, vice chairman of partnerships at AIME and president and CEO of Epoch Lending.
Wade posted, “NEXA Mortgage Loan Officers: friendly reminder, I give free advice to any broker who is looking to go out on their own to start their own shop.” He later said, “I know there are a ton of great people who work at NEXA who don’t like the direction they’ve taken.”
The post had over 70 reactions and almost 280 comments by the morning of Friday, Sep. 9.
In a statement to HousingWire, Wade said Epoch has a public moratorium against hiring LOs who currently work in the broker channel. However, he said he provides a “safe space for any NEXA’s LOs to be able to seek confidential advice without fear of bullying, harassment, and/or a lawsuit.”
AIME said the accusation of bullying from members of the organization, including the volunteer vice chair of partnerships, is “baseless.”
“Threats, demeaning commentary, or vulgar language directed at any member of our team will not be tolerated and will result in removal from our community,” AIME said in a statement provided to HousingWire.
Kortas has himself also attacked some members of the broker community, which he said was to protect his business and LOs.
Two months ago, he posted on LinkedIn that Anthony Casa, the president and CEO of UMortgage, “Says he recruits only retail, but it’s clearly a LIE based on what you see here.”
The post displayed a graphic that showed the origins of NEXA Mortgage and UMortgage’s LOs, including from other brokers, retail and new LOs. The graphic suggested that a majority of LOs came to UMortgage from other brokers, but that most of NEXA’s LOs came from retail. The post did not cite a source.
“He is not a leader in the BROKER community and cannot be trusted. I am the CEO of the largest BROKER in the Country, and I know first hand his lies,” Kortas wrote in the post.
(Casa stepped down as chairman of AIME in October 2020 following backlash from lewd and sexist remarks he said in videos about the wife of Austin Niemiec, who leads Rocket Pro TPO. Katie Sweeney was named as AIME’s CEO and Marc Summers as president.)
In a statement to HousingWire, Casa wrote that UMortgage encourages its loan originators to support AIME.
Kortas also complained that AIME refused to provide its bylaws when he requested a copy. The trade group said the bylaws are under their regular annual revision and will be available when the 2023 membership structure is announced in the coming weeks.
NEXA, founded in 2017 by Kortas, is a fast-growing mortgage brokerage. At the end of 2018, the brokerage had 42 loan officers, but the total increased to just over 800 at the end of 2020. By Sep. 9, 2022, the number was 1,871, according to the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS). The company has 230 active branches, NMLS data shows.
Before the housing crisis in 2008, mortgage brokers were responsible for nearly 50% of originations. After the crisis, with a bruised reputation, their market share fell to single digits until it began rising phenomenally less than six years ago.
The broker channel accounted for just under 15% market share from April to June, with retail at 61% and correspondent at 25%, according to an Inside Mortgage Finance‘s (IMF) analysis of first-lien mortgage originations. Brokers originated $94 billion in the second quarter, down 16% from the first quarter, the data shows.
AIME’s goal is to propel the wholesale channel beyond 25% market share in 2022 and beyond. The trade group, which is heavily supported by channel leader United Wholesale Mortgage, claims to have over 65,000 members.