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Putting the Pieces Together: How Quicken Loans Masters the Mortgage Process and Empowers Real Estate Professionals and Their Clients

Mar 3, 2019 by

Editor’s Note: This is the cover story in the March issue of RISMedia’s Real Estate magazine. Subscribe today. 

When many people think about buying a home, the words “trust” and “confidence” don’t readily come to mind, especially when it comes to locking down a mortgage.

But Quicken Loans is on a mission to change that.

“In a process that is filled with challenges and questions, we want to provide as much certainty for clients and agents as possible,” explains Joel Gurman, Quicken Loans executive vice president of Mortgage Banking. And the introduction of programs powered by technology, big data and consistent communication is making that happen.

“Quicken Loans has a different face now,” says Stevie Spargo, a 30-year real estate veteran and executive broker with Crye-Leike, a real estate services company in Arkansas. “We were skeptical of them in the beginning, being an online lender, but we decided to give them a try. Now I use them a lot, and they’re great. I can depend on what they tell me and the quickness of the process, and that helps me get more business.”

Trust and Confidence
Driving this revolutionary approach at Quicken Loans are three critical, yet often elusive, goals for the mortgage process: trust, communication and confidence.

“The No. 1 thing between a client, a real estate professional and a mortgage lender is trust,” says Tom Dempsey, Quicken Loans vice president of Business Development. “There’s nothing more important.”

To help create that environment of trust, Quicken Loans has added a unique layer of communication into the mortgage experience by introducing Agent Relationship Manager teams. Quicken Loans spent years developing the role of Agent Relationship Managers, and the teams pair all real estate professionals who have a client working with Quicken Loans with their own personal Agent Relationship Manager. Fully licensed in the agent’s state and able to discuss all loan-level inquiries, the Agent Relationship Manager serves as the agent’s main point of contact throughout the buyer’s mortgage process and eliminates the need to communicate with multiple people. Agents now have a dedicated point person in their corner—one who will do whatever is needed to ensure a timely closing.

They also now have an unmatched level of confidence in the mortgage financing equation, thanks to the Power Buying Process™, which was introduced in 2018 and is only offered by Quicken Loans. By giving the ability to underwrite a client’s income, assets and credit in less than 24 hours, the Power Buying Process offers homebuyers a Verified Approval. The average preapproval can fall through for a variety of reasons, but a Verified Approval has the strength of a cash offer.

Real Approval, Real Power
“There are a lot of variables involved in the traditional preapproval process that, historically, can present problems for the homebuyer, the real estate professional and the lender,” explains Dempsey, “and it undermines trust.”

That’s why Quicken Loans sought to infuse the mortgage process with clarity and confidence through the Power Buying Process, which, says Dempsey, removes subjectivity from the preapproval process.

“We live in a world of data, which allows us to get Verified Approvals quickly. This creates incredible confidence and turns you into a dependable partner because what you say you’re going to deliver, you actually deliver. And having a Verified Approval instills confidence in the real estate professional, as well as in the borrower. It minimizes the risk that something could go wrong.”

Gurman stresses, “This is not a prequalification. This is a complete preapproval where clients can lock in their interest rate.”

The road to Verified Approval can come through a traditional Quicken Loans mortgage or through Rocket Mortgage, Gurman says. The difference lies not in the quality of the approval, but in the avenue a client takes to get there. Rocket Mortgage allows consumers to go through the loan approval process online, at their own pace.

Rocket Mortgage, which debuted with great fanfare in 2016, represents a revolutionary step in modernizing the mortgage process.

“We no longer compare ourselves to the local mortgage office or a big bank, because today’s consumers are comparing their home-buying experience to an Amazon experience,” explains Max Wegner, Quicken Loans vice president of Enterprise Client Relationships. “The mortgage process has never gone through this significant of a transition. Quicken Loans became a leader in evolving the mortgage process when we launched Rocket Mortgage, and the Power Buying Process is the next step.”

Rocket Mortgage approvals are not part of the Power Buying Process, but according to Gurman, they are just as powerful.

“Rocket Mortgage imports a client’s income, assets and credit—it knows everything about that client in order to approve that client, so the agent can do what they do best, which is help the buyer find the best property for them,” Gurman says. “It’s also a big win for clients because we’re finding that sellers are more apt to accept these approvals.”

Wegner says the goal of programs like Rocket Mortgage and the Power Buying Process is to give homebuyers the same level of confidence and clarity they experience in other areas of their lives.

“Everything in life should be radically simple,” he explains, “not, ‘Everything in life should be radically simple—except buying a home.’ We want to give clients and real estate agents the level of ease and certainty they expect in the rest of their lives.”

Programs like the Power Buying Process also arm real estate professionals with a new level of confidence when working with buyers in the field.

“The person the homebuyer has the most face time with is the real estate professional,” says Dempsey. “They’re bearing most of the responsibility for the pieces that need to fall into place to get this person into the home, and a key piece of that is the mortgage financing. The Verified Approval gives real estate professionals the confidence to execute and deliver the final result.”

The Power Buying Process packs the most punch when it reaches its final step: RateShield™ Approval. This option locks in a buyer’s rate until they find a new home (for up to 90 days). It also gives them the ability to lower their rate if rates go down after they find a home.

“We know the volatility of the market,” Gurman says. “Rates change every day. We offer certainty—not only in the quality of the approval, but certainty in the price of what they’re getting.”

“By locking in the interest rate, it shows that as the lender, we are committed to closing the mortgage for the client,” adds Wegner. “That should give confidence to real estate agents that we are backing this with more than just a piece of paper. This is an opportunity to show how vested we are.”

A Relationship You Can Count On
While a Verified Approval goes a long way toward creating trust and confidence in the mortgage process, nothing compares to having a dependable, communicative partner to rely on every step of the way. This is where the Quicken Loans Agent Relationship Manager comes into play.

According to Agent Relationship Manager Ben Sible, “We bridge the gap in communication between the real estate and lending worlds. For years, Quicken Loans has been focused on creating the solution to provide consistent agent communication at the level our agent partners deserve. My role was created and developed for this very reason—to provide our agents with a main point of contact for every client working with us. My responsibility is to proactively keep our agents informed every step of the way, just as we do with our clients.”

Chris Corry, a top-producing REALTOR® with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty in the Washington, D.C., area, sees the benefits of having an Agent Relationship Manager.

“The Relationship Manager has strengthened communication and streamlines the process because I have one point of contact,” Corry explains. “I have my contact’s cellphone number, and I can correspond with him on a Saturday at 11 p.m. if I need to. I’m not relegated to Monday through Friday banking hours.”

Jennifer Jenkins of the Marvine Jenkins Team at Long and Foster Real Estate agrees.

“Working side-by-side with my Relationship Manager has been nothing short of a perfect fit,” she says. “He is there for me and my buyers 24 hours a day. With him by my side, I feel as if we can always get it done.”

As Quicken Loans Agent Relationship Manager Rachel Rye puts it, her role “helps eliminate all the voices.”

“We work with specific real estate agents, whether they handle one transaction or 15. From approval all the way to closing, we are their point of contact,” she explains. “There are times when the agent has several clients, and they’re dealing with different loan officers. This way, no matter who the client or the loan officer is, they still have me. When there are a lot of voices involved, there’s a lot of miscommunication.”

Kristyn Cooley, a REALTOR® and associate broker with Crye-Leike in Arkansas, says, “Having someone I can directly reach and speak to makes all the difference.

“It is much easier for me and my clients to speak to one or two people on a regular basis,” she explains, then adds: “Someone who understands their file without more explanation.”

Sible wears a multitude of hats in his role. In addition to being an Agent Relationship Manager, he has 10 years of experience as a federally- and state-licensed Mortgage Loan Originator (MLO), which enables him to assist with all loan-level inquiries, from program offerings to appraisal questions.

But the real superpower of the Agent Relationship Manager is the ability to streamline the process and get agents and their clients to a faster closing.

“This allows agents to focus solely on the needs of our mutual client,” says Sible.

Corry agrees.

“It enhances and streamlines the communication, and there’s a lot of downstream impact for my clients. They benefit from real-time responses when things come up while they’re dealing with the mortgage. It all goes back to having one point of contact.”

Agent Relationship Managers also provide agents with important intel regarding clients.

“We can let them know that a client is still waiting on documents, so don’t go out and show them properties yet,” says Rye. “We don’t want the agent to be in a situation where they’re putting an offer on something that the client’s not ready for. We want to make sure it’s a strong offer, and that we can get the transaction going right away.”

Agents are also able to refer prospective buyers to their Agent Relationship Manager to inquire about preapproval.

“A lot of first-time buyers are not preapproved, so I send them to my Relationship Manager, and he can tell me in 10-15 minutes whether they can be approved,” says Spargo. “And if they can’t, he works with them and tells them what they need to do to get approved.”

Perhaps the biggest benefit of an Agent Relationship Manager is the virtually round-the-clock availability, something busy real estate professionals find invaluable.

“We believe it is important to be available seven days a week to update our Pre-Qualification and Verified Approval Letters for agents ready to place an offer,” says Sible. “We provide agents with our cellphone numbers and give them access to us through email and text, as well. I make myself available to help with any need, anytime, anywhere.”

Corry can attest to this.

“Access is 24/7. If I’m writing an offer over the weekend and need the lender letter, it’s easy to reach out to my Relationship Manager. The Relationship Manager even allows me to work with certain loan officers if I want to. That way, if I’m working with more than one Quicken Loans client, I can review the whole portfolio at once. That’s a tremendous benefit.”

It All Goes Back to Trust
“When an agent works with me transaction after transaction, we’re building a relationship,” says Rye. “They know that they can call me on a Sunday afternoon for help with a new client they’re working with. They know I’m available. We’ve worked together on other transactions, and we’ve built trust. When you’ve shown your value to someone, they know they can rely on you.”

And this, in turn, empowers real estate professionals to be there for their clients.

“Since my clients feel like they are getting the personal service they deserve, they are much more relaxed,” explains Cooley. “The home-buying process can be intimidating, so taking that part away is very helpful to them and to me as their REALTOR®.”

Working with Quicken Loans through her Agent Relationship Manager has enabled Spargo to build her business in a small town where word-of-mouth referrals are invaluable.

“It’s amazing to be able to pick up the phone and get someone you know, trust and respect because of what they’ve been able to do for your clients,” says Spargo. “You know you can depend on what they’re saying. It’s good for my clients, too. They can go online or call directly and know exactly where they are in the process and what they have to do.”

Jenkins also benefits from referrals that come her way thanks to positive experiences she provides with the help of Quicken Loans.

“The amazing portal Quicken Loans and Rocket Mortgage offers to me and my buyers makes the buying process seamless,” she says. “There is never a question of what is expected or where we are in the process. This makes everyone look good, and when we look good, buyers tell their friends and family.”

More Great Experiences In the Future
For Quicken Loans, reinventing the mortgage process is an ongoing journey that requires a constant eye on the changing needs of consumers and real estate professionals.

“If it isn’t broken, we want to break it in the right ways,” says Gurman. “We’re constantly talking to agents to get their feedback and find out ways we can make their lives easier, whether that’s through technology or process improvements.”

Wegner adds: “We are making sure we stay close to our consumers and engaging our real estate professionals in the development process. We are looking from the outside in, versus staying on the inside. We are completely committed to delivering value to our client, not what we believe to be value.”

The End Goal Is to Build a Positive Experience
“In today’s world, clients are looking for you to create a memorable experience,” says Dempsey. “‘How did you make me feel?’ That’s what directs you back to a specific brand and makes you want to work with them again. The Power Buying Process is one step in our goal to create the most memorable experience we can for a client.”

Gurman says that the process is still evolving.

“We want to continue to revolutionize the process for agents and for homeowners and create an amazing experience. We are truly committed, at the highest level, to build out an experience that is second to none and that gives everyone certainty in the home-buying process.”

For more information, please visit RealEstate.QuickenLoans.com.

Maria Patterson is RISMedia’s executive editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at maria@rismedia.com.

The post Putting the Pieces Together: How Quicken Loans Masters the Mortgage Process and Empowers Real Estate Professionals and Their Clients appeared first on RISMedia.

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Should You Ask Someone to Cosign Your Mortgage?

Feb 26, 2019 by

If you’ve found the house of your dreams but you’re having trouble qualifying for a mortgage, you could ask another person, such as a family member or a close friend, to cosign your mortgage. That could help you buy the house you want, but it would carry substantial risks for both you and the cosigner.

Reasons to Have a Cosigner

There are several reasons why you might be unable to qualify for a mortgage on your own. You might be attempting to buy your first house and might not have a lengthy credit history. Maybe your credit score is too low to get a loan because of missed payments, high credit card balances or a history of bankruptcy. Perhaps your income doesn’t meet the lender’s requirements, or you have a high debt-to-income ratio. Having someone with a higher income and a better credit score cosign the loan application could make the lender feel more comfortable approving it. The cosigner would not have an ownership stake in the house, and his or her name would not appear on the title.

Things for a Potential Cosigner to Consider

Some people are willing to cosign a mortgage because they want to help a family member or friend realize the dream of owning a home. Cosigning a loan can help someone who is starting out establish a strong credit history.

If you ask someone to cosign a mortgage for you, he or she may have legitimate reservations. Cosigning a loan would increase the secondary borrower’s debt-to-income ratio, which could make it harder for him or her to qualify for a mortgage, credit card or loan. If you failed to make the payments on time, the cosigner could suffer. Late payments and fees would affect the secondary borrower’s credit score. The lender could seize the cosigner’s property or garnish his or her wages to meet your debt obligations. That means your friend or family member could be stuck with your mortgage payments and could be unable to pay his or her own mortgage, car loan, credit card bills and other expenses.

Should You Ask Someone to Cosign?

Cosigning a mortgage for a family member or friend can be a tremendous act of generosity, but it’s also a leap of faith. If the cosigner trusts you to pay the mortgage on time and you don’t, that could put the cosigner in hot water. The damage to your friend’s or family member’s financial security could harm or destroy your relationship.

Before you ask someone to cosign a mortgage, make sure you could afford the payments. If you have any doubts, you might be better off saving more money for a down payment, improving your credit score so you can qualify for a mortgage on your own, or choosing a less expensive house, rather than potentially jeopardizing your loved one’s financial future and your personal relationship.

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How to Get a Mortgage When You’re Self-Employed

Jan 10, 2019 by

While more and more Canadians are turning to self-employment in an ever-changing economy, it can be intimidating to consider homeownership when you’re self-employed. The regulations are tighter for freelancers because income is less consistent and reliable than typical full-time employment, but that shouldn’t discourage you from pursuing homeownership.

Save for a larger than usual down payment. A 20 per cent down payment might be fine for someone applying for a mortgage with regular employment without having to purchase mortgage insurance. For freelancers, that number goes up to 35 per cent. On top of needing that large sum in the bank, you’ll also need to prove you earned it—that it wasn’t gifted to you by a generous family member or friend. You’ll need to show bank statements so they can verify it comes from your earnings.

Get your paperwork in order. You’ll need to have claimed self-employment for at least two tax years before a bank will be willing to consider you for a mortgage once you’re freelance. They’ll use this information to calculate your average income. Lenders will want to go through your taxes, accounts and bank statements in detail before they make any decision. An accountant can make sure you have everything you need.

Consider your taxes. While you’re probably claiming everything you can on your taxes to help come tax time, this can actually hurt you when it comes to purchasing a home because it makes it appear as though you have a smaller income. Lenders want to see a sizable income and not worry that you’re struggling, so it might be worth it to claim less expenses the year before you are looking to buy.

Have a three-year plan. All things considered, it’s no easy feat to get a mortgage when you are self-employed, but it’s entirely possible if you plan for it correctly. The main thing to keep in mind is that it is going to take time and money. It’s unlikely you can approach a lender today and be approved if you’re new to freelancing, but don’t let that discourage you. This year, focus on building strong credit, increasing your savings, getting your paperwork in order and increasing your income each month. Once you’ve checked all the boxes, there’s no reason you won’t be approved for a mortgage.

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