Rocket Mortgage vs. Quicken Loans

Who Sells Mortgage Loans?

After buying a home, you might receive a letter stating that your mortgage loan has been purchased by an investor. But who sold it? The short answer is banks and lenders.

Why are banks selling mortgages? Well, it’s all about liquidity. Banks and lenders need to have enough money to continue to offer mortgages to homeowners. Usually, the purchasing investor will be one of the three government-owned or government-sponsored corporations that deal in mortgages: Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae. Occasionally, a smaller, nongovernmental investor will be the one to purchase your mortgage.

Before we get into the “why” of mortgage investors, it may be helpful to first go over a few different terms.

Lender

A lender can also be a mortgage originator in the secondary market, and is an entity that lent you the money to purchase your home. Lenders are one of the first steps in buying a home considering the borrower will need to find an interest rate that works for their financial situation.

Servicer

A servicer is the entity that handles your mortgage after you’ve closed on your home. They’re the people you send your monthly mortgage payments to.

Investor

An investor is the entity that purchases mortgages from lenders and can be a mortgage aggregator as well. Investors include Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, both of which purchase conventional loans, and Ginnie Mae, which purchases Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) loans.

Sometimes lenders will retain the servicing rights on mortgages they originated, while the mortgage itself is purchased by an investor. This means that you’ll still work with and make payments to the same company you got your loan with, but that company doesn’t technically own the mortgage anymore. The servicer collects your payments and passes them along to the investor.

Try not to confuse the above terms with a bank, which is often used as a general term and doesn’t really tell us anything about the entity’s role in your mortgage.

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How to qualify

Before you apply, do your best to clean up your credit report and score. You can apply for an FHA loan through Rocket Mortgage with a score as low as 580, but this loan typically costs more than other loans. With a score of 620 or higher, you can apply for a conventional loan and possibly qualify for a lower rate. The lowest advertised mortgage interest rates will be offered to the most well-qualified applicants. You'll need an excellent credit score to get the best deal.

Next, look at your debt-to-income ratio. Your DTI is the sum of your required minimum monthly debt payments divided by your total gross income. Most mortgage lenders want to see this number under 43%, but Rocket Mortgage offers some loans to applicants with a DTI of 57% (and higher in some cases). If your DTI is in that range, you'll need to make a stronger showing in other areas of the application. In other words, you'll probably need a larger down payment or higher credit score.

Once you're ready to apply for pre-approval or for a mortgage, you'll find Rocket Mortgage's platform easy to use. In addition to bank account balances, you will need to provide income and employer information, and your Social Security number. Rocket Mortgage can connect with your financial institutions and grab the documents automatically, or you can submit them by fax or email.

Who owns Rocket Mortgage?

Rocket Mortgage (formerly Quicken Loans) is owned by Detroit-based Rocket Companies Inc., a public company trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the ticker RKT. In addition to its home loan business, Rocket Companies owns Rocket Homes, a real estate search and referral platform; Rocket Auto, an automotive retail marketplace that provides centralized and virtual car sales support to online car purchasing platforms; and Rocket Loans, an online-based personal loans business. It also owns and operates several technology and ad-tech platforms around these businesses.

What Does Your Credit Score Have to Be for Quicken Loans?

  • Minimum credit score for conventional financing is 620
  • Lowest FICO score for FHA financing is 580
  • USDA loans require a 640+ FICO score
  • VA loans require a score of 620 and higher

It depends on the type of home loan in question, but they’re fairly conservative relative to other mortgage companies. Remember, they like to originate vanilla loans.

When it comes to conventional loans, those backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, you need a 620 FICO score. That’s the industry minimum, so no surprise there.

For FHA loans, you need a minimum 580 FICO score, which is well above the 500 floor. But the FHA requires a score of 580 and higher for their signature 3.5% down loan program.

While the USDA doesn’t set a minimum credit score requirement, Quicken Loans requires at least a 640 FICO score.

Similarly, the VA doesn’t impose a minimum credit score, but Quicken requires a median score of 620+.

Is Quicken the best mortgage lender for you?

If you choose Quicken for your mortgage, you’re in good company. This Detroit-based lender has rapidly become one of the most popular in the U.S. thanks to its seamless, digital-first mortgage process.

But remember not to choose a lender based on the ease of application alone. You should also compare rates from a few different companies and make sure you get the best deal.

You can get started right here.

Downsides of Rocket Mortgage

The biggest drawback of using Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans is that you have less guidance than you would if you were applying over the phone or in person. Yes, you have the option to chat or contact a “Home Loan Expert,” but it’s not required in most cases.

This lack of hand-holding can make the overall mortgage process seem more confusing and intimidating for first-time homebuyers. It’s also not the best option for buyers with poor credit or those who are self-employed. Rocket Mortgage requires a minimum credit score of 580, and self-employed applicants must work with an agent in order to get approved.

Rocket Mortgage Pros
  • Convenient application process

  • Fast preapproval and processing

  • High satisfaction ratings 

  • No physical paperwork required

Rocket Mortgage Cons Less hands-on help than traditional methods Not suited for buyers with poor credit Self-employed buyers can’t complete the application online

FAQs

  • The lowest advertised rate at Rocket Mortgage is on par with the national average. But when we checked, Rocket Mortgage's fee for the lowest rate was higher than average.

  • Yes. One nice thing about Rocket Mortgage is that it consistently gets very high marks for customer service. The No. 1 ranking, in fact, in some large surveys. In light of its competitive rates and excellent service, Rocket Mortgage is definitely worth your consideration.

  • Yes. Rocket Mortgage fees are a little lower for refinance mortgages than purchase mortgages, so the overall cost of the loan is lower.

  • Rocket Mortgage offers loans with different requirements to meet the needs of most borrowers. If your credit score is in the 500-620 range, you might qualify for an FHA loan from Rocket Mortgage. For a conventional mortgage, you'll need a 620. For Rocket Mortgage's lowest rate, you'll need a higher credit score. Rocket Mortgage will also look at your debt-to-income ratio and the amount of cash you have for a down payment and reserves.

  • Rocket Mortgage offers a variety of purchase and refinance home mortgage loans:ConventionalFHAFHA StreamlineVAFixed-rate mortgageAdjustable-rate mortgageJumbo loan

Rocket Mortgage: Transparency

Rocket Mortgage has an easy-to-navigate site with a straightforward application process, and you can be preapproved in only minutes. It has an array of tools to help you figure out how much home you can afford and a number of guides explaining loan types and terms.

It’s not clear on the Rocket Mortgage site which types of loans it offers or what the minimum credit score requirements are for different mortgages. The FAQ lists a few types of loans and its requirements, but there isn’t a complete public list of every loan offered. So you’ll have to call or chat with a representative to get some critical  questions answered.

How do home loans work?

A home loan, also known as a mortgage, is a loan you use to purchase a home. The loan is also secured by your home, which means that if you stop paying on your loan, the lender can seize the home and sell it. There are several types of home loans, including conventional, FHA, VA, and USDA mortgages. Home loans can also have fixed rates, which have the same interest rate for the length of the loan, or variable rates, which the lender can change subject to specific limits.

Drawbacks

  • No face-to-face customer service
  • Not particularly friendly toward borrowers with bad credit or high existing debt
  • Rates might be higher than advertised if you don't purchase discount points
  • No USDA loans or second mortgages

Rocket Mortgage Compared to Other Mortgage Lenders

Rocket MortgageBetter.comSoFI
Minimum Credit Score580 to 620620660
Minimum Downpayment0% to 3.5%3%5%
States it operates in504342
Loan types offeredConventional loans, jumbo loans, VA loans, FHA loansConventional loans, jumbo loansConventional loans

Is Rocket Mortgage a bank?

No. Rocket Mortgage is a direct lender that only deals in home loans and related products. It does not offer banking services such as deposits or payment services like credit or debit cards.

Should I Use Quicken Loans to Get a Mortgage?

  • Quicken is the largest home loan lender and top in customer satisfaction
  • But some consumers may be more interested in the lowest rate and fees
  • One advantage to Quicken is its Rocket Mortgage technology that makes the loan process easier for most
  • They also service 99% of the loans they close

Now the million-dollar question: is Quicken Loans the right mortgage lender for you?

Well, that all depends on what matters most to you. While they are the nation’s largest lender, and top in satisfaction per J.D. Power, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are the best fit for everyone.

For one, you could argue that Quicken Loans offers a name brand mortgage, which generally comes with higher costs. Whether true or not depends on if you compare loan rates and costs to other lenders.

Ultimately, mortgages are pretty commoditized, meaning they don’t really differ from one loan to the next.

One benefit to using Quicken is the fact that they service their own loans (99% of them), as opposed to selling them off to other companies you may not recognize.

Additionally, you can take advantage of the Rocket Mortgage technology during the entire loan process to quickly see application status on a real-time basis.

Lastly, 96% of clients say they would recommend Quicken Loans per closed customer surveys, so they appear to make most people happy.

Of course, you should always compare multiple lenders, banks, credit unions, and mortgage brokers to ensure you’ve done your diligence.

Data reveals that those who take the time to obtain several mortgage quotes have the ability to save thousands on their home loan.

(top photo: Live DETgames)

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