Real estate franchising giant RE/MAX’s mortgage subsidiary, Motto Franchising LLC, helped its franchisees open 60 new offices in 2021, surpassing a goal of 50 new offices set by company President Ward Morrison last spring.

There are now 187 independently owned offices operating under the Motto Mortgage brand serving 38 states and Washington, D.C., according to an announcement Thursday. The 12 states where the Motto Mortgage brand doesn’t yet have a presence are Alaska, Connecticut, Maine, Minnesota, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah and Vermont.

Motto Franchising markets itself as a turnkey, “mortgage brokerage-in-a-box” for real estate brokers, mortgage professionals or entrepreneurs who want to own their own mortgage business, providing technology, compliance, training and marketing.

Morrison — who has served as Motto Franchising’s president since its 2016 launch, and took on the additional title of CEO on Jan. 10 — told Inman last August that the company’s business model also appeals to consumers. Unlike the lending arms of many other real estate brokerages, Motto Mortgage brokers offer access to a network wholesale lenders who offer competing rates and products.

Most Motto Mortgage franchise sales to date — 58 percent — have been to RE/MAX brokers, Morrison said at the time. But 13 percent of franchise sales were to independent brokerages, or brokers affiliated with a rival brand. The remaining 29 percent of sales were to entrepreneurs, investors or owners of related businesses like title insurers.

Ward Morrison

“The extraordinary growth we’ve seen of the Motto Mortgage brand and the rapid diversification of franchise ownership is a testament to how revolutionary our offerings are,” Morrison said in a statement Thursday announcing the sale of the 300th Motto Mortgage franchise, with 187 offices open to date.

Growth of Motto Mortgage network

Source: RE/MAX Holdings Inc. regulatory filings.

The opening of 60 new offices in 2021 represents 33 percent annual growth, with more openings in the pipeline. A Motto Franchising spokesperson told Inman in an email that the pandemic has complicated the process jumping through hoops needed to license and open new offices.

“This industry – like so many others – is experiencing staffing shortages related to COVID that lengthens the time it takes to process licenses and a Motto office cannot open until its state license has been approved and made active,” the spokesperson said. “The Motto team does a terrific job of helping our franchisees navigate the licensing process and the multiple steps needed to get their Motto offices open and we’re confident once the impact of COVID lessens a bit, our office openings will accelerate.”

Since November, Motto Franchising has announced the opening of five new franchise offices in five states:

Morrison, who also serves as president and CEO of RE/MAX subsidiary wemlo, a fintech provider of mortgage loan processing services that RE/MAX acquired to bolster Motto Franchising’s technology offering, is set to receive more than a quarter of a million dollars in bonuses this year.

In conjunction with the pending departure of RE/MAX Holdings CEO Adam Contos this month, the compensation committee of RE/MAX’s board of directors awarded Morrison and three other top executives $1.188 million in bonuses. The bonuses are intended to reward the executives for past performance, and to keep them working at RE/MAX “given the transition of the company’s chief executive officer and amidst the highly competitive market for talent, both within the real estate and mortgage industries,” the company disclosed in a regulatory filing.

Morrison is set to receive a total of $280,000 in reward and retention bonuses, while RE/MAX CEO Nicholas Bailey will receive $312,000, RE/MAX CFO Karri Callahan is to be paid $308,000, and RE/MAX COO and chief of staff Serene Smith will receive $288,000. Three quarters of the bonuses were to be paid out on Jan. 15, with the remaining 25 percent payable on Sept. 30, 2022 to those executives still working at the company.

Last week, real estate brokerage Redfin announced it’s expanding its presence in mortgage lending by acquiring a national lender, San Francisco-based Bay Equity Home Loans, for $135 million in cash. Bay Equity, which is licensed in 42 states and employs and employs about 1,200 people, closed 25,338 loans totaling $8.5 billion last year.

Get Inman’s Extra Credit Newsletter delivered right to your inbox. A weekly roundup of all the biggest news in the world of mortgages and closings delivered every Wednesday. Click here to subscribe.

Email Matt Carter

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