CFPB (and others) Not Amused By Quicken’s Push-Button Mortgage Ad

| By:

Is Quicken in the right place at the wrong time?

Imagine a world where you could get a mortgage at the push of a button. And then imagine like literally pushing that button while you’re sitting in a dark auditorium watching a magic show. As the magician saws a woman in half, you agree to a $400,000 loan payable over 30 years. That pivotal moment, according to Quicken’s vision for American prosperity, will lead to a “tidal wave of ownership” that will flood the country with new home owners.

Consider the implications of that commercial on its own merits (or watch it below of course) and then imagine watching it after you’ve just seen The Big Short in theaters. Given that the movie is a true story about the build-up of the housing and credit bubble in the 2000s that led to a near catastrophic global collapse, a mortgage “tidal wave” might not be the best way to describe your new mobile app.

After Quicken’s push-button mortgage commercial aired during the Super Bowl, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau responded on twitter:

While the mortgage process shown on TV looked overly ambitious, a Quicken customer service rep who I chatted with while posing as a borrower, said that it really can be all done online, even if the mortgage was for like $600,000. When I inquired about what documents I’d need to provide through that process, I was told all I needed to do was state the address of the home.

A no-doc process?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “borrowers can authorize Quicken to access their bank and other financial information directly, eliminating the need for sending pay stubs, bank statements and tax returns back and forth.” So there’s still documents, they’re just electronic and retrieved via APIs.

Having scanned the process, there is clearly more than just one button to push (I counted 9 steps), but it may actually be possible to get a mortgage while watching a magic show. Apparently a lot of people on twitter don’t think that’s a good thing:

Meanwhile, Rana Foroohar, Assistant Managing Editor and Columnist for Time and Global Economic Analyst for CNN, argued that the backlash is unfounded. “No, the Rocket Mortgage Ad Is Not the Sign of Another Financial Apocalypse,” was the headline of her Time story published on Monday. Her evidence? Nobody can afford a mortgage anyway so there’s nothing to worry about, she basically says.

Private equity firm Blackstone has become the largest buyer of single family homes in the country over the last few years. […] Most ordinary Americans need mortgages to buy real estate; at current housing prices and incomes, it would take a typical family more than twenty years to save even a 10% down payment for a home plus closing costs. But they can’t get the loans, because in our post-crisis world, banks are still keeping credit tighter than usual. Besides, many individuals simply don’t have the secure employment, nest egg, and increasingly high credit scores needed to obtain a mortgage these days.

– Rana Foroohar

See? There can’t be a bubble brewing because nobody can possibly qualify.

So when Quicken makes wildly provocative sales pitches like this:

What they’re really apparently trying to say is that the process for those that qualify is supposedly more transparent and therefore better for borrowers:

Of course, it probably doesn’t help when their legal help page is titled “legal mumbo jumbo.”

legal mumbo jumbo

Quicken CEO Bill Emerson tried to clarify the message of the commercial to the WSJ. “What we’re saying is that a strong housing market filled with responsible homeowners is important to the economy,” he said.

Don’t worry about the mumbo jumbo folks, just push button, get mortgage.

What do you think? Is Quicken walking down a slippery slope?

Last modified: February 9, 2016
Sean Murray

Category: Loans

Home Loans › CFPB (and others) Not Amused By Quicken’s Push-Button Mortgage Ad