Rocket Mortgage® Elevates the Real Estate Agent Experience and Helps Clients Achieve Homeownership More Easily
The thrill that comes with buying a home is indisputable. But, so often, stress also comes with it.
Even in the best of times, achieving the dream of homeownership is no simple matter, and in the current market, it’s even more complex and frustrating. Today’s homebuyers are confronted with an array of challenges, with shrinking inventory and rising prices topping the list, and the strain on real estate agents is greater than ever.
As one of the nation’s largest mortgage lenders, Detroit-based Rocket Mortgage has had a front row seat to the intense dynamics of the modern real estate landscape.
“It’s obvious that the market and the industry today are more competitive and fast-paced than we’ve seen in a very long time—and that’s extremely stressful for agents,” says Rocket Mortgage Vice President of Sales Michael Flis. “Our job as a mortgage company is to relieve some of that pressure on agents.”
With that aim in mind, Rocket Mortgage has stepped up and refined the home-loan experience once again. Recognizing that both technology and people are imperative to a successful real estate outcome, Rocket Mortgage has honed its strategy to facilitate true partnership with agents so they can best help their clients achieve homeownership.
By focusing on the needs of real estate professionals, Rocket Mortgage has developed an all-encompassing solution. “Our processes are constantly evolving so we are better able to meet agents where they are, and where they need us most,” explains Rocket Pro℠ Director of Business Development Marshall O’Keefe. “A lender partner that offers great products for their clients is important. Even more important, though, is a lender they can trust—that can move at their speed and respond to their needs with a true sense of urgency.”
Technology That Clarifies, Not Confuses One of Rocket Mortgage’s often cited “ISMs”—or core philosophies—is: “Responding with a sense of urgency is the ante to play.”
This particular ISM is evident in how Rocket Mortgage has rapidly responded to market needs with technology. While it’s become common practice for companies in the real estate space to tout their technology solutions, not all of them truly deliver for agents. That’s why Rocket Pro Insight, launched a little more than a year ago, was designed to put simplicity and transparency front and center.
“There are so many moving parts to the mortgage transaction—the average person can feel left in the dark,” explains Rocket Mortgage Vice President of Sales Tim Swank. “The more transparent we can be, the more communication, the better everyone feels.”
Rocket Pro Insight achieves that goal by providing real estate agents with 24/7 visibility into where their clients are in the loan process. Giving real-time visibility and access into a client’s journey—from either a mobile app or desktop—is a gamechanger for real estate professionals juggling the demands of today’s market.
“The convenience that our technology offers is really important,” says Rocket Mortgage Senior Vice President of Client Experience Operations Rebecca Rosenberg. “Real estate agents are busy. We want to do whatever we can to support them and make their jobs easy.”
According to Nick Evers, a real estate agent with Real Living Casa Fina Realty serving the Tampa, Florida, region, “Leaning into Rocket Pro Insight is a drastic upgrade from any other lender, tech-wise. Being able to access information anytime, especially this last year and a half, has been huge.”
As Rocket Mortgage Director of Business Strategy Zack Reinbold explains, Rocket Pro Insight aligns with the instant needs of today’s business world. “At any point in time, an agent can know what’s going on—what the status of the loan is, where the appraisal is, if there are any contingency issues,” he says. “Knowing what’s happening in real-time is critical, especially in today’s ultra-competitive market.”
Satisfying the Need for Speed In today’s market, perhaps more than ever, speed is essential to getting a buyer’s offer on a home accepted.
“It doesn’t matter which state you’re in—in most cases, there are multiple offers above asking within 24 hours after a home is listed,” says Rocket Mortgage Vice President of Sales Sam Lanfear. “The client needs the ability to stand out and give themselves a competitive edge.”
Rocket Mortgage’s Overnight Underwrite program provides exactly the type of edge Lanfear is talking about. True to its name, if a client provides all the necessary documents by 7 p.m., Rocket Mortgage can turn around a fully verified offer by 9 a.m. the next morning for borrowers who qualify.
“The Verified Approval can help you compete—even with all-cash buyers,” says Reinbold. “The seller has the certainty that the buyer’s credit, income and assets verify that they can afford the home.”
Shane Clark, a 10-year real estate agent with the Agile Group team at Real Living Casa Fina Realty, confirms that the Verified Approval is indeed a game-changer. “A lot of lenders issue pre-quals, but they haven’t seen any documents—they’ve run a credit check and that’s about it,” he explains. “A Verified Approval means they’ve seen paystubs, W2s, bank statements—they’ve done all that work upfront.
“The listing agent has a multitude of offers to choose from,” he adds. “If they see that the agent has a relationship with the lender and a solid buyer, it helps the offer stand out.”
Verified Approvals are accessible to agents through Rocket Pro Insight, giving them the ability to make adjustments as required—within the approved range. As Evers explains, “We’re able to go in and update a client’s approval letter to exactly what they want to offer.”
This type of autonomy allows agents to turn on a dime to help seal a deal. “We essentially give full visibility into where the client is,” says Senior Rocket Pro Banker Pat Sparks. “They can go into the app, make an adjustment on the amount and submit the offer.”
In addition to getting a client’s offer to the seller more quickly, Verified Approvals provide something that’s sorely needed in today’s home-buying process: confidence. As Sparks says, “It’s a guarantee that the mortgage review won’t keep it from closing, and that puts both the seller’s and the listing agent’s mind at ease that there won’t be hiccups in getting the loan closed.”
The Human Component, Always While the Rocket Mortgage tech stack is a powerful ally for real estate professionals in and of itself, what truly cements the lender’s partnership with agents is an ever-present human touch: the Agent Relationship Manager.
Agent Relationship Managers work directly with real estate agents to answer questions, field issues and alert agents to milestones in the loan process, such as when the appraisal is ordered or when the loan reaches approval. They also offer real estate professionals something invaluable—a real human to turn to.
“Right now, it’s a very exciting time to be a real estate agent,” says Swank. “But I also think it’s never been harder. What they need more than anything is a team. The Agent Relationship Manager is here, just for them, as their primary point of contact, from the preapproval right up to the closing.”
As Lanfear explains, Rocket Mortgage’s team of more than 150 Agent Relationship Managers helps bridge the gap in communication that frequently occurs in the loan process. “When Rocket Mortgage created this role, the sole focus was to address this issue,” he explains. “Regardless of what mortgage banker (loan officer) they’re working with, the agent gets the same point of contact with their Agent Relationship Manager.”
Rocket Mortgage Agent Relationship Manager Cameron Walls points to one of the company’s ISMs to illustrate his role: “Every client. Every time. No exceptions. No excuses.”
“It takes a team to get you from point A to point B,” says Walls. “That’s very important in today’s market. Agents have my work phone and my cellphone, and can call me anytime. I am more local and more accessible than a lot of loan officers. Agents are working 24/7, especially right now, so I am, too.”
The Agent Relationship Manager team is indicative of Rocket Mortgage’s unique commitment to real estate agents. As O’Keefe explains, “We made the decision that our partnerships with real estate professionals needed to be very intentional and purpose driven. The agent is often the glue that holds purchase transactions together, and establishing trust and reliability with our partners is extremely important to us.”
Evers attests to the value of working with his Agent Relationship Manager, Peter Wrubel.
“If anything goes awry, and I can’t get a hold of the banker, I can say, ‘Hey, Peter, I need to know the background of the loan, and I can’t get a hold of the banker right now’—that communication is huge,” he says.
The value of the Agent Relationship Manager role is evident in the program’s rapid growth. Starting out as a team of five when the program was introduced in 2017, it is now 150-people strong, with specific teams now dedicated to serving individual brands because, as Executive Agent Relationship Manager Jeri Bryant says, “It’s way more personal to work with a particular brokerage brand—it allows us to go more in-depth.”
The brand approach also allows Rocket Mortgage to operate on a local level. “We’re a national company, but we can now support the nuances of a real estate brand,” says Flis. “We can understand the specifics of an area, which makes us better able to assist.”
Ultimately, Agent Relationship Managers help keep the mortgage experience personalized. “We can’t tech our way into the hearts and minds of real estate agents,” says Swank. “We have to be human, and we have to be able to communicate, both good and bad news, and be a real partner to them.”
Walls agrees. “For the longest time, we have been so involved and so focused on clients,” he says. “We’ve shifted a little bit of that focus to the agent because they’re the ones pounding the pavement. They are also an important part of a transaction.”
Making Agents Even More Valuable Rocket Mortgage’s technology tools, combined with the personalized service offered through Agent Relationship Managers, help real estate agents attain a critical long-term goal: raising their value proposition with clients.
Bryant, for example, encourages her agents to use Rocket Pro Insight to communicate with clients. “I tell them to open up their portal and inform their clients directly,” she explains. “Answer their questions—handle it right then and there. Especially for first-time buyers, they’re intimidated to call the lender directly, so they can go right to their agent instead. This absolutely adds value to the agent’s role.”
Rocket Pro Insight helps put control in Clark’s hands, helping him move transactions along—cementing his value to clients. “Especially if a client has never bought a home before, it can be very overwhelming for people,” he explains. “To be able to collect documents for them and upload them… taking some of that off their plate and reminding them that I’m an extra set of eyes helps me better serve my clients.”
Walls believes the team and technology approach at Rocket Mortgage also gives agents an edge over some of the housing market’s newest competition. “Agents are getting nervous about iBuyers,” he explains. “But iBuyers only account for 0.5% of all transactions. That’s because people still want a high-level business professional to help them with the largest purchase of their lifetime. Anything we can do to boost an agent’s professionalism with technology is extremely important.”
“No other lender I know of has a platform like this or the amount of service, or someone dedicated to you,” says Clark. “Rocket Mortgage has helped my business tremendously.”
Listen First, Act Fast Rocket Mortgage’s groundbreaking technology, along with its growing team of Agent Relationship Managers, was born out of the company’s culture, which is all about listening to clients, then offering solutions.
“When you’re a large brand or company, that can take you away from the ground level,” says Flis. “But if people feel comfortable giving you real feedback, you can notice trends and commonalities. Once you connect the dots, you can start to implement and put together fixes.”
Swank agrees. “We can’t predict the future, but one thing I know for certain is that we’re going to listen to the real estate community and provide them with what they say they need as the market shifts,” he says.
“We will continue to get feedback and try to make sure we’re being proactive in order to develop solutions that will grow our business and real estate agents’ businesses for the long term,” adds Rosenberg.
This core belief makes innovation a constant at Rocket Mortgage. Case in point, the company already rolled out new iterations of Rocket Pro Insight this past October, adding even more visibility to the mortgage process as well as the appraisal and closing processes.
“Rocket Pro Insight will continue to offer more functionality and visibility for agents,” says O’Keefe. “We’re also working on new mortgage products that we think can change the game for homebuyers during any market climate. We’re thinking creatively every day about ways that we can continue to move the needle for our partners and clients.”
Lanfear offers a glimpse into where Rocket Mortgage may be heading next. “We’re constantly looking to innovate and make the client experience better,” he says. “In the future, Rocket will be synonymous with reducing friction in many of life’s complex moments. We’re more than just mortgages—offering cars and personal loans, solar panels and who knows what could come to the Rocket platform next.”
In the meantime, Rocket Mortgage will continue to make the home-buying experience a better one for real estate professionals and their clients. “We are finding ways to help better arm people to purchase a home,” says Flis. “And we are doing that in a way that’s quicker and more efficient. We will continue to work together to create an awesome experience for clients—when we do that, everyone benefits.”