Detroit Free Press: Matthew Roling on southeast Michigan mortgage lenders

For years, business experts have said that metro Detroit needs to diversify its economy beyond the automotive sector. That goal could be closer than ever, thanks to the recent emergence in southeast Michigan of a cluster of mortgage lending businesses that have been shooting up the industry's national rankings. The region is home to four of the 20 biggest mortgage lenders in the country, according to industry publications, including No. 1-ranked Quicken Loans that just reported its most profitable year ever. Three of the four companies have gone public on stock markets since last summer, and all of them are seeing strong year-over-year revenue and profit growth even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to a boom in mortgage refinancing activity spurred by historically low-interest rates. Matt Roling, executive director of the office of business innovation at Wayne State University's Mike Ilitch School of Business, said southeast Michigan's nationally ranked lenders are probably benefitting from being near each other. For instance, Quicken Loans can motivate UWM to charge harder up the rankings and mortgage companies can benefit from the larger pool of skilled workers. "When you have all this talent floating around the market, it’s real easy to kind of grab good people who, for whatever reason, might have fallen out with the big dog," Roling said.

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