Shooting for The Moon or Failure to Launch

We saw the commercial during the Super Bowl. The one that explained, “Here’s what we were thinking: What if we did for mortgages what the internet did for buying music, and plane tickets and shoes?” That talked about turning “an intimidating process” into “an easy one.” That said you could get a mortgage on your phone. It was what many called mortgage’s “iPhone moment,” for obvious reasons.

But, a little over a year after that eye-opening – and eyebrow-raising – moment from Rocket Mortgage, the fully digital arm of Quicken Loans, how’s it going?

Pretty well, apparently.

The 3…2…1…launch of Rocket Mortgage resulted in “a traffic spike of ‘thousands of people’ in the minutes following the ad,” said CNN Money. And in the time since? “One year after Quicken Loans’ Rocket Mortgage Super Bowl ad ignited a nationwide conversation about the power of the American homebuyer, the largest FinTech lender funded $7 billion of its record $96 billion in total closed loan volume in 2016 through Rocket Mortgage,” the online lender said. “In just 11 months Rocket Mortgage’s closed volume alone would already rank as a top-30 national mortgage lender, among the nearly 50,000 banks, credit unions, brokers and mortgage companies in the United States.”

That accounted for more than “$7 billion through its proprietary online engine. As the country’s second-largest overall home lender, Quicken closed more than $96 billion in 2016, setting an all-time company record.”

How did that happen?

At a time when the industry was desperate for greater participation from millennials in the real estate market, Rocket Mortgage spoke their language. “You mean, I can get a mortgage right here on my phone? Interesting.

Subsequent Rocket Mortgage commercials have featured young and young-ish folks of varying ethnicities, plus one showcasing a Vulcan couple and another pandering to college students. Language focuses on appealing ideas like, “Skip the bank, skip the paperwork, and go completely online,” and focuses on the hassle of conventional routes by offering “a mortgage solution in minutes.”

It’s pretty clear who they’re talking to, and, in fact, “According to Quicken, the growth of Rocket Mortgage comes from its appeal to a “new generation” of homebuyers,” said HousingWire. “Per Quicken’s data, 80% of Rocket Mortgage users were first-time homebuyers, while two-thirds of Rocket Mortgage customers used the platform for a home purchase mortgage, rather than a refinance.”

Those numbers aren’t surprising considering millennials are precisely who Rocket Mortgage was going after with their pointed language, promise to streamline loans, and, especially, shorten the process (by up to 12 days, they say). Breaking down those numbers a bit further reveals that “of the first-time buyers that used Rocket Mortgage, 43% were 35 years of age or younger, while 57% were over the age of 35,” they said. That second part is surprising, especially since many of these people still remember the last real estate crash and may still not be over it.