Rocket Mortgage changed the home loan industry. Suddenly, home buyers could apply for a mortgage from their phone. Technology was rapidly transforming one of the last major paper-shuffling businesses remaining on the planet.
So when the holding company that owns Rocket and Quicken Loans announced it was launching Rocket Homes, a website with “powerful home search functionality,” it seemed worth checking out.
But let’s just say this: Unlike its high-flying mortgage-making relative, it’s not “push button, get home” — at least not yet.
» MORE: Read our Rocket Mortgage review
Planting a flag with the Rocket brand
Rocket Homes is less a brand-new creation and more a rebranding. A real estate agent referral website called In-House Realty — already a subsidiary of Quicken Loans owner Rock Holdings — was given a new identity.
No homebuying tools are evident just yet. In fact, if you live outside of the search site’s home state of Michigan, there’s very little to click on.
But, having planted a flag with the Rocket brand, Rocket Homes has plans to add 10 states by the end of 2018 — with a national rollout by mid-2019.
“We’re building it one step at a time,” Doug Seabolt, CEO of Rocket Homes, tells NerdWallet, adding that the site is not looking to compete with home search behemoths Zillow or Realtor.com.
Instead, Seabolt says Rocket Homes aims to connect consumers with its national network of real estate professionals while integrating the Rocket Mortgage app, along with home information and homebuying tools. Users could search for a home and then apply for a loan without ever leaving the site.
“We are completely focused on the home buying and selling experience and trying to eliminate the complexities and stress that are associated with it,” he says.
The start of a new space race?
Rocket Mortgage took the mortgage industry by surprise. Rocket Homes seems to be in stealth mode so far.
Yet Zillow, the home search king, has purchased a lender. Now Rocket Mortgage, the app that makes applying for a loan smartphone-simple, is launching a home search site. And Amazon has threatened to get into the housing game often enough to scare the bejeezus out of the entire industry.
So everyone wants to do everything in the buying-a-home biz.
“Technology and innovation is going to continue to challenge the status quo of how homes are bought and sold in America,” Seabolt says.
No doubt that’s true. And while Rocket Homes is nowhere close to being a disruptor at this point, it’s a reasonable bet that whatever all-encompassing entities end up in the homebuying arena, one of them will have “Rocket” in its name.
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