This month, Real Estate magazine had the chance to sit down with Rocket Mortgage® Chief Revenue Officer Tim Birkmeier to discuss the company’s biggest opportunities as we prepare for a new year.
Paige Tepping: Tell us about your history with Rocket Mortgage and how it led to your current role within the company, and what exactly that role is.
Tim Birkmeier: I’ve been with the company for 25 years, dating back to when the company was Rock Financial, a small regional mortgage broker. As we grew to be a national lender—now the country’s largest mortgage lender—I had the opportunity to lead teams of mortgage bankers, helping their growth and development. Today, I lead the entire mortgage banking group, ensuring that we stay focused on our client service mission.
PT: What are your primary roles and responsibilities as chief revenue officer? What is your favorite part of your job?
TB: In addition to overseeing our mortgage bankers, I also lead the team that works directly with real estate agents, building relationships and making sure we meet their needs in every single real estate deal. I also lead our business development team, which is responsible for securing high-profile partnerships.
Most recently, we announced a partnership with Salesforce, which will enable local banks, credit unions and financial institutions to leverage the Rocket Mortgage technology and process right through Salesforce.
PT: Please describe your commitment to and focus on Rocket Mortgage’s purchase business, and why this is such an important area of focus for you.
TB: Rocket Mortgage is a firm believer in the American Dream of homeownership. We use our skills, expertise and technology to help make that dream a reality, improving our clients’ lives and helping them build intergenerational wealth.
PT: Can you talk a little bit about Rocket Mortgage’s stance when it comes to serving real estate agents?
TB: Real estate agents play a critical role in the home-buying process, and we’re always looking for ways to empower agents with new leads, products and tools to win in today’s competitive environment.
We do this through innovative tools like our Verified Approval process, which reviews all data and documents to confirm that buyers are fully approved so they can make offers that compete with cash buyers. Plus, our Overnight Underwrite program, which ensures purchase loans are underwritten in mere hours, can get buyers to certainty faster.
Also, last year, we unveiled Rocket Pro℠ Insight after working with our real estate partners and listening to them explain how we could best help them succeed. The platform gives agents unprecedented visibility into where their clients are in the process and helps them seamlessly interact with clients throughout the home-buying journey. Rocket Pro Insight enables real estate agents to upload their client’s documents, create preapproval letters—within the client’s approved range—track the status of their client’s mortgage and receive real-time updates.
The number of real estate agents leveraging Rocket Pro Insight more than tripled to 55,000 as of Sept. 30, 2021, up from 14,000 at the end of 2020.
PT: As the industry continues to change, why is it critical to remain focused on investing in the company’s solutions for agents?
TB: As the economy changes, and interest rates rise and fall, there will always be people who want to buy homes—and we will always be there to help them.
PT: Looking ahead, what’s on the horizon for Rocket Mortgage as we close out 2021 and welcome 2022?
TB: The real estate transaction over the next decade will be simplified for both consumers and those handling operations on the backend.
One thing we’ve seen grow in popularity is the adoption of eClosings. We believe this is just the tip of the iceberg as the industry furthers its digital transformation.
As an example, Amrock, one of the largest title providers and a partner of Rocket Mortgage, recently celebrated its 1 millionth eClosing and holds over 80% of the marketshare in this space. That marketshare will not stay that large, and that’s good for consumers. We want more lenders and closing service providers to use this technology, improving the experience for all.
Rocket Mortgage spent years creating a complete end-to-end experience that puts the power of choice back into the hands of the consumer. Clients will be able to choose a completely digital home-buying experience or opt for a localized, in-person approach with a mortgage broker, but ultimately, that decision will be entirely theirs.
Continuing to transform and simplify the home-buying experience—no matter how consumers choose to interact—is the single biggest opportunity as we head into the future. We’re continually working toward creating a superior technology-driven platform that brings excitement back to home-buying, eliminating stress and friction for all involved throughout the process.
PT: How will you hit the ground running in the new year, and what tactics are in place to begin preparing?
TB: It’s generally understood that moving into 2022, the market will be more focused on purchase. We’ve already been adding technology and honing our processes to best serve both homebuyers and their agents. Homebuyers have seen success using our Verified Approval process, Overnight Underwrite program and Rocket Pro Insight platform.