In-House Realty, a sibling company to lending giant Quicken Loans (both are owned by parent company Rock Holdings Inc), is rebranding as “Rocket Homes,” and launching a new consumer-facing home search site, “Rockethomes.com,” to better match Quicken Loans’ enormously successful Rocket Mortgage and RocketLoans brands.
The launch of the new Rocket Homes brand and website is the first step to creating an end-to-end homebuying platform, the company tells Inman.
“Over the last 10-12 years, one thing we’ve learned from our agents and consumers is that — and our research has validated this too over the last 12-18 months — the transaction is complex but also fragmented,” said Sam Vida, founder and president of Rocket Homes.
Vida explained you have real estate search websites and technology with one username and password, then a mortgage platform with a different brand and another username and password. Rocket Homes is looking to link those two, with the Rocket Mortgage technology from its sister company Quicken Loans, putting the two on one platform with one user account.
Users can bounce between the two — saving homes and getting pre-approved for a mortgage, all on the one platform.
“It becomes really the first bridge between these two experiences that we’ve seen in the industry, and it really came out of a deep consumer need,” Vida said. “It’s the one place you can go to manage both of these experiences.”
Rocket Homes has many of the similar bells and whistles of other real estate search portals, namely Zillow, which recently acquired its own mortgage lending company, Mortgage Lenders of America. You can see high-resolution photos of listings and get the square-footages of the home. It also shows nearby schools and gives the neighborhood and others around it safety ratings from publicly available data.
Most important is the website’s biggest promise — a place to find a home and get pre-approved for a mortgage, even before you contact the agent.
Another useful visual and informational feature of Rocket Homes from a consumer perspective, comes toward the bottom of each search page: suggestions of nearby restaurants and things to do in the neighborhood.
On each listing is a mortgage calculator, that shows how much taxes and insurance will cost in addition to a mortgage estimate — similar again to Zillow and its subsidiary portal brands (Trulia, StreetEasy), as well as rival realtor.com.
But from that single account, you can be taken directly to Rocket Mortgage, a product from Quicken Loans that boasts of an eight-minute mortgage pre-approval process. Quicken Loans recently overtook Wells Fargo to become the largest home lending company out of the roughly 30,000 operating in the U.S., accounting for 6 percent market share and $25 billion worth of home mortgages in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to Forbes.
Doug Seabolt, CEO of Rocket Homes, told Inman they have gone to great lengths to answer a simple question for consumers: “Can I afford this home?”
“It can be at times a very confusing and fragmented experience,” Seabolt said. “I’ve got to go here to look for homes, I’ve got to find an agent, I’ve got to find a mortgage.”
“What we’ve done is, we’ve worked tirelessly over the last many years and months to create an experience bringing diverse pieces of the homebuying and selling experience together to make it easier on the consumer to understand, for them to have visibility and move through what should generally be an exciting experience for them,” Seabolt added.
Rocket Homes isn’t a lead generation platform — like Zillow’s Premier Agent — it’s more of a referral network of roughly 25,000 agents in all 50 states in the United States. Agents host their listings on Rocket Homes, and if a deal is closed as a result of Rocket Homes’ referral, the company gets a cut of commission.
“We have a waiting list in most parts of the United States where people come to us,” Seabolt said. “Our complete focus is on the consumer experience and so with that, we have high service standards that we expect.”
When bringing on a new partner, there’s certain criteria that agents have to meet: minimum sales thresholds and a certain number of years in the industry, for example.
Rocket Homes’ search site launches Monday in its home state of Michigan, and it plans to be in 10 states by end of the year and nationwide by the middle of 2019.
In May, the company purchased ForSaleByOwner.com to assist sellers who are selling their own homes. In the first quarter of 2017, it purchased Toronto-based OpenHouse Realty’s technology group and its proprietary technology platform.
Parent company Rock Holdings has also been busy investing heavily in financial technology-related acquisitions in the past two years, including acquiring Los Angeles-based LowerMyBills and ClassesUSA, online marketing service providers.