There was an article recently on TechCrunch.com that was titled “This Could Be The Mortgage Industry’s iPhone Moment”. It proclaimed “Quicken Loans sees Rocket Mortgage as the turning point in home financing”. And, “It’s home financing’s iPhone” and “The process takes less than 10 minutes.” Hmmm, we’ll see about that.
I went online and tried to apply for a loan myself and below is what I found.
It took me 2 minutes to enter some basic initial data. Then you need to enter your login information for your bank accounts. I am not sure I am comfortable putting my login information for other financial institutions on a mortgage company’s online application. But I did it and moved past my fears of identity theft for the promise of a 10 minute mortgage. Most of us do not know that information off the top of our heads. So I had to take the time to look up the online login for each account to enter this data. This took 7 minutes.
It could not find my employer in a database search. So I surmise it can probably only find large well known employers whose data resides in a database somewhere. I had to manually enter all of that information. This took 3 minutes.
It asked me if I owned property currently, which I do. After I answered this question it automatically stopped the process and told me to call a representative. At this point I was 13 minutes into the process, with no mortgage approval. I tried again saying instead that I did not own any property. It seemed to like that better. After 20 minutes of entering all kinds of other data and answering more questions, it said to…call a representative.
I found the process very frustrating. I had spent almost 35 minutes trying to get a 10 minute “rocket mortgage”. All I got was a 35 minute headache. It was more of a paper airplane and less of a rocket.
I think what it really is for now is a fancy online pre-qualification system. Which is not a bad thing. But it is not a 10 minute mortgage.
A real life example of a failure to launch
Coincidentally I had a friend who confirmed the very same thing the next morning. Below is his story.
This friend of mine asked me to look into getting him a loan about a year ago. Unfortunately he had some severely negative credit issues related to a bankruptcy and a foreclosure. I told him it would be many years until he would be able to get a mortgage. He was fine with that and said that’s what he was expecting to hear. I told him we would touch base in a couple of years and talk about it again.
But then, Quicken Loans and the “Rocket Mortgage” happened. I have a feeling explaining their process to my clients is going to keep me busy for a long while. My friend heard about the Quicken Loans Rocket Mortgage and emailed me the following:
“Brian, interestingly, Quicken Loans pre-approved me for a loan. I wasn’t expecting that. See details below. You might find what they’re up to interesting. It is very similar to what you’ve talked about wanting to do re: an automated platform. Their process is called a “Rocket Mortgage”.
Do you think the fact that they approved me for a $430k loan @ 3.5% down means anything re: your ability to approve me for a larger loan? Home prices here are $1MM range and I’d need more loan than $430k. Let me know if you want to try. We’ll be moving in mid January to another rental but would like to consider buying if it looks at all doable.”
What I told my friend
I assured him that there was no way under any guidelines that I knew of based on 29 years in this business that he would currently be eligible for any loan at all. Further, I said that I thought Quicken Loans was way off base. I pressed him to engage with Quicken Loans and ask them for a commitment letter of some sort. Here’s what he said:
“Ha! You’re right — when I tried to click “get approval letter” I got this: “We need a little more info about your spouse. Please call us.” When I called them I got this: “Unfortunately your credit profile restricts us from offering you financing.”
I am sorry but for now it is going to be really hard to take a process with hundreds of steps and documentation requirements all wrapped into a heavy compliance and regulatory framework, and boil it down to 10 minutes with very little paperwork. Can the process be streamlined? Yes. Is this a shot across the bow of other mortgage lenders and the entire industry to try and make things easier for the consumer? Yes.
I think what they are doing is a step in the right direction. But it is step 1 of 2,000 steps. If this is the result of 450 people and 5 years of work, wow. It tells me it will be a long time before there really is a “10 minute mortgage”.