Anyone watching this space knew it was going to happen, but perhaps not this fast. Quicken Loans officially became the largest mortgage lender in the country during the fourth quarter of 2017, surpassing its long-time rival Wells Fargo.
The Detroit-based residential direct-to-consumer home loan lender mustered around $25 billion in loan origination volume during the final quarter of the year, outpacing rival Wells by some $2 billion, according to Crain’s Detroit.
Bank of America and Chase, which are far larger banks, only managed $13 billion and $11 billion during the quarter, respectively.
Of course, we’re only talking about a three-month period here. Quicken Loans CEO Jay Farner confirmed to Crain’s that it didn’t beat out Wells Fargo throughout 2017.
The San Francisco-based bank and mortgage lender, which had a rough year and change thanks to scandals aplenty, reportedly did $114 billion in residential home loans last year.
Quicken didn’t disclose its total annual figure, but confirmed it wasn’t as high as Wells’ 2017 calendar year numbers.
Wells also apparently had its worst quarter in the final three months of the year, which might explain how Quicken was finally able to overtake the megabank.
Will Quicken Loans Retain Its Mortgage Lead?
The next obvious question is if Quicken Loans will be able to retain its newly-anointed crown. Obviously, mortgage volume can fluctuate considerably from one quarter to the next.
Over the past decade, and probably long before that, the top 10 mortgage lenders have seen all types of ranking shifts.
The one constant though had been Wells Fargo at the top of the pile. But they finally got knocked off their perch, and there’s been considerable damage to their brand, including their home loan division, thanks to various lawsuits, including one regarding improper lock fees.
At the same time, the public seems to be pretty forgetful when it comes to stuff like this, and I doubt most would-be home buyers and those looking to refinance will care what alleged transgressions took place in the past.
One thing is clear – Quicken Loans has its work cut out for it if it wants to stay at the top of the pile, especially now that mortgage rates have had such a bad month.
While Quicken was the overall top mortgage lender in the fourth quarter of 2017, a lot of their volume probably came from home refinance applications.
The refinance share is expected to hit its lowest point this year since 1990. Yes, nearly 30 years. That could be a huge problem for mortgage shops that don’t bring in a lot of home purchase business.
It’s no secret that refis are going to plummet in coming years for the sheer fact that very few homeowners will benefit from a rate and term refinance.
And many existing homeowners won’t want to tap their equity via a cash out refinance only to lose their ultra-low interest rate in the process.
We’ve already seen Capital One throw in the towel on mortgage lending, and they may not be the last. In any case, it should be interesting to see how things shake out in 2018.
For the record, Quicken Loans is doing another commercial during the Super Bowl, so look out for that. Their last one stirred a lot of controversy, which felt a little misguided.
If you recall, it was an ad for their Rocket Mortgage, which highlighted the ability to apply for a mortgage via smartphone and upload documents on the fly.
Some critics took this as a nod to the easy money days of the early 2000s. In reality, mortgages are still fully underwritten, it’s just a novel way of applying for one. And now most other banks and lenders have followed suit with their so-called digital offerings.