During the National Mortgage News’ Digital Mortgage 2021 Conference, Jamie Kump, Director of High Growth Accounts at Qualia, introduced the keynote session which featured Bob Walters, Chief Operating Officer at Rocket Mortgage. In 2015, Rocket Mortgage (formerly Quicken Loans) launched the first fully digital, completely online mortgage experience. This moment fundamentally changed the mortgage industry. Within two years, there were over 25 digital lending firms offering a similar automated mortgage application experience to consumers. 

Today, there is no longer a clear divide separating digital lending firms from long-standing lending institutions. In fact, digital front-end touchpoints, especially at application, are now commonplace among lenders. Qualia’s Homebuyer Sentiment Index found that more than one-third of borrowers applied for and completed their mortgage application completely online. For returning homebuyers, this percentage jumped to 44%.

Now, Rocket Mortgage is continuing to push boundaries by extending its vision for the ideal homebuying experience by bringing the entire homebuying process into a one-click button experience. Rocket’s vision for an integrated mortgage, title, appraisal, real estate, and iBuying operation may push forward yet another standard for the mortgage industry.  In the keynote session, Walters discussed the three key ways integrated technology systems are transforming the mortgage experience.

1. Scalability

With an integrated technology philosophy, Rocket Mortgage was able to rapidly expand mortgage volume in just one year from $150 billion to $320 billion.“Without technology knitting our processes together… that growth wouldn’t be possible,” Walters said.

In real estate, expanding a large-scale operation is especially challenging because of the complexity of mortgage transactions. “It’s one thing to close 10 or 100 loans a month, however, the magnitude of difficulty starts to grow exponentially when you get to one thousand [or one-hundred thousand],” Walters said. ”It’s no easy feat because of the sheer level of permutations…so, unless you have a well-put-together, wide-range of  systems that can pull together the [pieces], it is difficult.” 

Centralization of systems is extremely useful for expanding while maintaining consistent and streamlined operations (both with internal and with external partners). Ultimately, an integrated system that centralizes operations, empowers lenders to work with more consumers and partners in a consistent way. The principal advantage of this type of technology is its ability to scale economically (without a substantial increase in resources).  All the while, the business maintains a premium customer experience every time.

2. Speed of transaction 

“Technology accrues positively for [Rocket Mortgage] in the speed and efficiency of the transaction,” said Walters. According to Walters, Rocket Mortgage closes about 120,000 loans a month as of December 2021. 

Removing the operational bottlenecks in the closing process truly matters for the consumer experience because it ultimately impacts time-to-close. In 2021, the average closing time frame on a mortgage was between 45 and 60 days. An integrated system speeds up the closing process by automating repetitive functions and better connecting closing parties through integrated processes that eliminate information silos. According to Freddie Mac’s study, the top 25% of performers (lenders effectively integrating technology) process loans on average 20 days faster than the bottom 25% of performers (32 days vs. 52 days). 

3. Client satisfaction

 “Client communication across the different parties is a huge part of where we [Rocket Mortgage] spend our technology dollars,” said Walters.

Today’s consumer expects a connected experience from home search through closing. They want a simplified, digital experience that allows them to engage in real-time with transaction parties without needing to keep track of which party is responsible for a certain aspect of the transaction. This means that every party in the transaction (lenders, real estate agents, title & escrow agents, etc.) must all be working in sync to deliver an integrated experience to the consumer.

“This is a complicated business, but we are making difficult processes easier through technology. It’s technology with a heavy dose of human-centric process. Let computers do what computers do well, so humans can do what they do well—helping people get to the kinds of solutions they want to get to,” said Walters. 

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