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When was the last time you deposited a check with your mobile device? Went grocery shopping online? Refilled a prescription by text? Probably just a few minutes ago! While the technological era may have its downsides, they are far outweighed by the positives—more convenience, less paper, faster transactions, 24/7 access…the list goes on.

It’s no surprise, therefore, that the modern world’s digital crusade has found its way to the home-loan business. Leading the charge is Detroit-based Quicken Loans, with an online mortgage process that continues to meet the demands of today’s real estate consumers and the real estate professionals who serve them. From first-time homebuyers to refinancing homeowners, Quicken Loans is steadily building its raving fan base—especially among the up-and-coming generation of homebuyers.

Made for Today’s Consumer…and Agent
Adam Oberski, sales manager for CENTURY 21 Curran and Christie, serving the metro Detroit area, has witnessed Quicken Loans’ rising popularity first-hand. “For our newer agents, and for much of the consumer base out there, they’re used to this click-and-instant-feedback world that we’re now in,” he explains. “Quicken Loans, through the tools they offer, has done a great job of adapting to what consumers are becoming accustomed to. They’ve done a great job of capturing consumers.”

While the Quicken Loans online model has an appeal that spans generations, it resonates particularly well with the millennial crowd. “Of course it’s going to appeal to the younger generation more,” says Oberski. “However, I’ve seen one or two generations above me that are online savvy and taking advantage of the tools Quicken Loans has to offer. Some buyers are coming to the table with a preapproval from Quicken Loans before even coming to us.”

“For Gen Y buyers, relationship banking doesn’t really mean anything, the way it did for their parents and grandparents,” says John Mangas, broker and co-owner of RE/MAX Preferred, serving Northwest Ohio. “The majority of buyers we’ve worked with through Quicken Loans tend to be younger buyers. Sure, there’s an exception to that rule, but it’s a mindset thing; a lot of baby boomer clients don’t want to do a loan app online—they want to sit down across the table from someone. If they’re going to bare their soul, they want it to be in a more intimate setting. That doesn’t really mean anything to Gen Y.”

According to Mangas, the online mortgage model will only become more prevalent. “Quicken Loans is probably a foreshadowing of what the lending industry will become,” he explains. “As more millennials come into the marketplace, that millennial buyer is changing the way the real estate business operates, and that includes the mortgage process. They want things in real-time on their own terms. Their process mirrors the level of service that first-time Gen Y buyers want.”

The Quicken Loans model also stands to have positive ramifications for brokers in their recruiting efforts. “We’ve made a real concerted effort to recruit Gen Y agents, and they ‘get’ Quicken Loans way more than traditional agents,” says Mangas.

Streamlining a Cumbersome Process
An already burdensome real estate transaction process is getting worse, not better, says Mangas.

“In theory, the home purchasing process should be streamlined and simplified, but just the opposite seems to be the case,” he explains. “The process is becoming more cumbersome as regulations are imposed on lenders. It’s taking additional time and documentation, and this has created a lot of angst among homebuyers, particularly those who are self-employed and small business owners.”

According to Mangas, the Quicken Loans model removes some of the common roadblocks that impede the transaction.

“Quicken Loans has some programs and processes that some of the traditional mortgage brokers and lenders don’t offer,” says Mangas. “There are occasions when a buyer just doesn’t fit into the traditional mold, and Quicken Loans is there as an alternative. They do document and verify—they’re not just shoveling money at anyone who fills out a loan application—but they get to a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ pretty quickly. It’s nice to know in a short timeframe if the loan is not something they can do. It allows everyone to move on as opposed to sitting in a holding pattern for five or six weeks.”

However, when it comes to turning around a loan quickly, Oberski stresses that it’s primarily about the consumer, whether working with Quicken Loans or a traditional bank. “What matters is the individual behind the loan—as long as the consumer, agent and lender are aligned and working diligently together, we’re consistently seeing anywhere from 25 – 45 days for a loan.”

Aside from an overall streamlining of the mortgage loan process, the Quicken Loans model offers some particular features that consumers really like.

“Everybody loves calculators and Quicken Loans has a number of calculators available for anything you might need to forecast,” says Oberski. “The other great feature is the My QL real-time status update of where your loan stands. This helps both the consumer and the agent, who can help make sure the transaction is going as smoothly as possible.”

Keeping It Personal
While Oberski reports that many of his firm’s more than 2,000 annual transactions are still completed through a traditional lender, a growing number are being done with Quicken Loans. He attributes this to several factors, the most important being Quicken Loans Founder Dan Gilbert’s commitment to customer service, an edict that is enforced throughout every division at Quicken Loans. Therefore, while the Quicken Loans’ online mortgage model requires little face-to-face, that doesn’t mean personalized service gets the short-shrift.

“One of the challenges that both consumers and agents have is communication, and Quicken Loans has done a good job of incorporating both technology and a high level of service and communication at all the appropriate levels of the transaction,” says Oberski. “They’ve really worked on their brokerage relationships; they have a team in the field, a direct point of contact and a bat line we can call. The online program may be fantastic, but it comes down to answering the phone and getting the results.

“It really comes down to communicating,” adds Oberski. “At the end of the day, you can have the best set of tools, but if the wrong individual is administering them, they’re not going to be effective. When you put a great lender behind great tools, it creates a great experience.”

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