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HousingWire Magazine: December 2021/ January 2022

AS WE ENTER A NEW YEAR, let’s look at some of the events that we can look forward to in 2022. But what about what’s next for the housing industry?

Back to the Future of Mortgage Lending

This webinar will be a discussion on understanding what’s to come in the future of mortgage lending by analyzing past trends in the industry, evolving consumer behaviors and demographics of the industry’s production capacity.

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MortgageTechnology

Rocket Mortgage makes another push for brokers

Top-ranked lender pledges to connect real estate agents with mortgage broker partners, among other new initiatives

HW+ Austin rocket
Executive Vice President at Rocket Pro TPO Austin Niemiec

Rocket Pro TPO, a division of Rocket Mortgage, announced today that it is launching several tech-focused initiatives to support mortgage broker partners for a purchase-heavy market.

Perhaps the most significant news, made under the fanfare of “Come Together” by the Beatles, is that the nation’s largest mortgage lender pledged “to build bridges” for their brokers partners by connecting them with real estate agents.

According to Austin Niemiec, executive vice president at Rocket Pro TPO, broker partners will now have access to agents through Rocket Homes, the company’s real estate listing platform.

“Many homebuyers who visit the Rocket Homes site are not working with a mortgage company,” said the lender in a statement. “Starting this week, however, when Rocket Homes connects homebuyers with one of its partner agents, the company will also introduce select buyers to one of Rocket Pro TPO’s Pinnacle Partners.”

It could end up being a decent source of leads for brokers. In its most recent quarterly earnings, Rocket said that its home search website reached nearly two million average unique monthly visitors, a six-fold increase year-over-year. Rocket Homes’ agent referral network – with nearly 25,000 agents – also drove $2 billion of real estate transaction value in the second quarter, the company claimed.

Rocket boasted on its second quarter earnings call that roughly 70% of Rocket Homes closings involved both an agent in the Rocket Homes real estate network and Rocket Mortgage’s retail division.

“This mortgage attach rate is among the highest in the industry and the increased level of engagement that occurs when clients work with both Rocket Homes and Rocket Mortgage drives higher levels of lead conversion for Rocket Mortgage,” the company said in August.

The Detroit-based company, which is the largest retail lender and also the second-largest wholesale lender in the nation, stressed on Tuesday that it would ensure that these newly built relationships between mortgage brokers and real estate agents are “protected.” Rocket said it would use a proprietary tracking engine detailing which real estate agents each broker is working with.

If a broker partner closes a loan with a real estate professional, Rocket Mortgage will not “proactively reach out to the agent,” the company said.

“We know our broker partners work hard to establish connections with local real estate professionals and we want to protect those relationships,” Niemiec said. “We will honor these connections, while also leveraging our Rocket platform to help brokers create new partnerships.”

In addition to opening the pipeline to Rocket Homes, the lender will be doing live mixers between brokers and real estate agents. The first event will be held in San Francisco in November, with more to follow in the coming months.

Beyond relationship-focused initiatives with agents, Rocket also said it would allow brokers’ clients to upload and eSign their mortgage documents in the new Rocket Pro TPO client portal.

“Our tech team has customized it for the broker community,” said Niemiec in an interview with HousingWire.  “It’s also a client portal that’s digital through the whole mortgage experience where brokers can use it to push conditions, review them, or delete them.”

The list of announced offerings for broker partners also includes a rebuilt marketing hub.

The lender also added that Rocket Connect, a communication hub for brokers and underwriters, would be getting a facelift, with the company committing to a “two-hour response window” for all inquiries, and the opportunity for brokers to immediately escalate to operations leaders.

“The mortgage market is huge, the pie is nearly infinite and it’s our responsibility to help the brokers who work with us get a bigger piece of it,” Niemiec said.

In the second quarter, Rocket Companies announced that it funded $83.8 billion worth of originations compared to $103.5 billion in the previous quarter, while gain-one-sale margins fell to 278 basis points from 374 basis points the previous quarter.

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