The country’s second largest retail mortgage lender, Quicken Loans, has long worked in concert with a giant referral network of real estate agents owned by Quicken’s parent company.
Now the referral network, known as In-House Realty, is wading further into real estate, having recently acquired new technology from well-funded real estate startup OpenHouse.
What does the company have planned for the industry?
It’s been mostly tight-lipped on the subject, but In-House Realty sees “unlimited possibilities” and has its eye on building an end-to-end homebuying experience, said In-House Realty CEO Doug Seabolt.
Quicken Loans’ mastery of online lending and In-House Realty’s acquisition of property and agent-search technology could allow Quicken to become a big online real estate player almost overnight.
In-House Realty’s work on a new real estate platform comes two years after Quicken Loans debuted Rocket Mortgage, which the company bills as “the first end-to-end completely online mortgage.”
“Our mission is to explain to everyone in America that we have revolutionized how people can get a mortgage,” said Jay Farner, president and chief marketing officer at Quicken in a previous statement. “Everything in life has gotten so much easier thanks to technology, and we have been able to do the same for mortgages.”
In-House Realty’s new platform “deepens the play that RocketMortgage started because RocketMortgage is basically a consumer lead-gen play,” said Paul Hagey, founder of real estate tech consultancy HageyMedia. “This is a potentially lucrative trend as mortgage companies look to win more business by capturing consumers directly.”
In-House Realty as glue between buyer, agent and Quicken Loans
Over the past decade, Quicken Loans has referred countless mortgage-seeking homebuyers through In-House Realty to local agents. About 400,000 referrals generated by the network, which includes 25,000 agents, have converted into transactions, according to In-House Realty.
Members pay a typical referral fee to In-House Realty when a referred buyer or seller closes on a sale.
“We have always kept kind of a low profile and the reason being is our focus has been and continues to be on our agent partner network,” Seabolt said about In-House Realty.
Since In-House Realty referrals come from Quicken Loans, they are often pre-approved for a mortgage, making them particularly desirable leads.
After matching a homebuyer with an agent, In-House Realty acts as a “communication hub” between the buyer, agent and Quicken Loans, facilitating coordination and monitoring progress.
“We’re kind of the glue in the middle that keeps everything rolling,” Seabolt said.
If needed, In-House Realty may “nudge” one party to move things forward, he added.
Watching how a buyer’s experience unfolds allows the company to ensure its partner agents provide a high level of service. Referred buyers rate their agent on an ongoing basis, and agents are required to maintain a minimum client satisfaction score to remain eligible for referrals.
In-House’s technology is designed to keep parties connected as long as the buyer takes to find a home, whether that’s three days, three months or three years, according to Seabolt.
“I think we’ve perfected the craft of this referral relationship,” he said.
Now the company is looking to further expand its role in the homebuying process. Acquiring OpenHouse’s technology platform earlier this year marked a big step in this direction.
OpenHouse was formed out of a merger between Agent Ace, an agent-matching service, and fypio, a property search app. Between the two, the company had raised over $20 million in funding before In-House Realty acquired OpenHouse’s assets.
Merging referrals and property search
In-House Realty is leveraging the acquisition to build a platform that will fuse property search with both its referral network and Quicken Loans’ lending experience.
Consumers will be able to use the coming platform to get pre-approved by Quicken Loans, zero in on listings and connect with an agent to see the properties.
It will present agents based largely on their performance data, facilitate instant communication between buyer and seller and tee up quick showings.
“We have all of the information on our partner [agent] that we can instantly share with the consumer because of our experience with the lender and our experience with the agent partner in that market,” Seabolt said.
In-House Realty plans to launch the new platform later this year or sometime in 2018.
This is only the beginning of Quicken Loans’ push into real estate.
In-House Realty is tinkering with ideas and technology in a laboratory-like environment. All the experimentation is aimed at streamlining the homebuying process and, ultimately, crafting the ever-elusive “end-to-end solution” for the industry, Seabolt said.
“There are unlimited possibilities,” he said.