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Newzip, an agent-matching and cash-reward platform co-founded by former Keller Williams Realty Director of Innovation Adi Pavlovic, has partnered with Apple Federal Credit Union to connect homebuyers and sellers to preferred agents.
Based in Boston, Newzip enables virtually any mortgage lender to emulate programs offered by bigger rivals, such as Rocket Mortgage, loanDepot and Better, who court homebuyers by offering them discounts for working with partner agents.
“We are excited about the possibilities this partnership will bring,” said Apple FCU Mortgage Originations Manager Rob Drake in a statement. “Newzip’s concierge platform aligns perfectly with our commitment to delivering exceptional service and value to our members. With their expertise and comprehensive support, we are confident that our members will enjoy an elevated homebuying journey, receiving personalized guidance at every step.”
When members of Fairfax, Virginia-based Apple FCU agree to use Newzip’s preferred-agent network, they’ll be eligible for cash rewards in the form of a closing credit equal to 0.5 percent of the sales price if they’re buying a home or 1 percent if they’re selling.
Newzip pitches itself to lenders as a “real estate brokerage-in-a-box,” promising to not only connect homebuyers with agents in their markets but streamline the process of getting them to the closing table by providing updates from its platform.
It’s enrolled 15,000 agents in its network and is currently recruiting more top-producing agents on its website, promising to match them with “pre-screened, transaction-ready clients,” Newzip says. Agents are connected with the borrower’s loan officer and a dedicated Newzip Home Advisor, paying Newzup a referral fee if they close on a sale.
Newzip’s co-founder and CEO Pavlovic said in a statement that the company is “delighted to work with a prestigious institution” like Apple FCU to “make the process more seamless and affordable for members looking to buy [or] sell in these challenging market conditions.”
Pavlovic told Inman that since launching in August of 2022, Newzip has “had some success bringing on a couple top lenders to our platform, but this is our first credit union which we’re excited about as it’s an exciting new vertical for us.”
To encourage consumers to shop for mortgages and settlement services, the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) prohibits the payment of unearned kickbacks or referral fees in exchange for business. But RESPA allows payments under cooperative brokerage and referral arrangements or agreements between real estate agents and brokers.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which enforces RESPA, launched an investigation into Rocket’s real estate brokerage arm in 2020 which is ongoing, the CFPB confirmed on March 30.
The CFPB in 2018 concluded an investigation into whether Zillow violated RESPA by letting agents and lenders combine marketing efforts without taking any action against the company. Zillow in April agreed to pay $15 million to settle a class-action suit by shareholders alleging that questions about the legality of the program caused the company’s stock price to tumble in 2017.
Other items of value, such as marketing services that are provided in exchange for business can also violate RESPA or similar state laws, depending on how they’re provided.
On its website, Newzip said its “real estate brokerage-as-a-service solution” is RESPA and SOC 2-compliant, allowing lenders “build better customer relationships, convert more leads, and offer a more competitive value proposition.”
SOC 2 is a data encryption standard created by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include additional perspective from Newzip co-founder and CEO Adi Pavlovic.
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Email Matt Carter