Friday Flash: Sweet dreams

Mortgage companies are picking at the crumbs of the refi feast these days, getting to those last few people who somehow never got around to landing their 30-year fixed at 4%.

Now it’s time for a “purchase strategy”.

This means one of three things:

  1. Getting cozy with Realtors while somehow avoiding jail time.
  2. Setting up a home search portal like Xome, MyPerfectHome or HomeCircle.
  3. Spending a bazillion dollars going direct to consumers with a bold claim.

Trust me, there is a lot more of option 2 coming. But option 3 is more spectacular.

Consider Quicken Loan’s big “Rocket Mortgage” announcement this week. In a TechCrunch piece, Quicken’s founder Dan Gilbert claimed this was the mortgage industry’s “iPhone moment”, brought to you by 1,200 developers working for a year and a half and supported by a $100 million ad campaign in 2016.

Holy crap.

Wait. Hasn’t Guaranteed Rate been spending millions promoting “The world’s first digital mortgage” all year?

And what about those who claim that this sort of thing has been around, in many places, for even longer?

No, no…. it has got to be different this time. Look right here where Quicken Loan tells me “Finally, home buying made simple”.

But then look at all those commenters on the TechCrunch article – dozens of them – who say they tried the Rocket Mortgage and found it to be yet another bait and switch.

Damn. I so want this to be real.

I suspect some people, within certain clean and tidy parameters, can thread the needle and experience something new and better through these big mortgage plays. But most of us aren’t like that. We’re self-employed. Or have most of our assets tied up in a business. Or have had some sort of credit hiccup that haunts us.

So we will have to continue waiting for homebuying to be made easy, mortgages to be made simple, or closings to be made instant.

Until then, we in the real estate brokerage side of the housing industry can keep talking about making real estate like Uber. But it’s the mortgage, title and settlement services companies who will one day make it happen.

I hope I’m here to see it.

Redfin launched a really nice AVM product this week. They claim it’s more accurate than the Zestimate. I have no way to know if that’s true and don’t think it’s all that important anyway.

The interesting thing is that Redfin, a real estate brokerage, is reaching out from its transactional business to engage consumers with a tool Zillow, a media company, used to build its audience 10 years ago.

This after Zillow, the media company, reached into the transaction from its ad business to get into the messy stuff they foreswore for years.

I doubt Zillow will ever buy Redfin, but these two companies are, in effect, moving closer together to create a pretty powerful consumer experience.

Complain about these companies all you want. I get it. But if this isn’t a call to action for the “traditional” industry to break out some new moves, I can’t imagine what is.

I thought this was interesting: an AI (artificial intelligence) powered lawyer.

[Insert lame lawyer joke here].

Ask questions, prep contracts, get signatures and notarize documents just by cc-ing “Peter”, your fake lawyer, in an email.

Sounds preposterous, but it really isn’t in the context of all the other mind-blowing tech in our midst. Driverless cars work. I can get the 1981 roster for the Milwaukee Brewers by talking to my phone. Surely, preparing a few contracts this way is possible.

Anyway, enough dreaming. Back to work.

Enjoy the weekend.