This Is the Most Popular Mortgage Lender in the U.S.

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The most popular mortgage lender in the U.S. may also be the most driven to push the industry's evolution.

Home sales have been on a roll, weathering the pandemic with relative ease. And mortgage lenders have been bombarded with customers, a good sign for home sellers itching to move. The Ascent recently took a closer look at the top 25 mortgage lenders from 2019. We were curious which of the more than 11,000 lending institutions originated the highest number of mortgages in 2019. Here's what we found.

And the winner is...

Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans. More loans originated through Rocket Mortgage in 2019 than any other lender. And in 2020, nearly 1 out of 10 people who bought a home in the U.S. financed the purchase through Rocket Mortgage, according to Bob Walters, President and Chief Operating Officer for Quicken Loans Inc. That's not to say that Rocket Mortgage loaned the most money, however. Wells Fargo and Chase produced larger loan amount totals, but Rocket Mortgage did the highest volume.

What Rocket Mortgage offers

After nearly 36 years in business, Quicken Loans has become a household name. Since 2015, Quicken's Rocket Mortgage has revolutionized the home-buying process by continually upgrading its technology and offering a new kind of mortgage experience.

Rocket specializes in the most commonly sought loans: conventional, FHA, and VA-backed. This specialization may be one reason Rocket is able to usher a loan from application to closing in such a short period of time.

Entirely customizable

Customers don't have to speak with anyone to begin the loan process. "Rocket Mortgage offers the first totally online mortgage experience," Walters says. "You can do everything, from verifying financial information to locking in your interest rate, without interacting with a human."

On the other hand, borrowers can work solely with one of the company's 19,000 employees. Most, Walters says, mix and match approaches in whatever way fits their needs and comfort level, making Rocket Mortgage a customizable lending experience.

Walters says it is common for borrowers to begin the loan process by speaking with a loan officer by phone, then switching over to using primarily technology once they're comfortable. For example, when it's time to provide documentation after the initial conversations, they upload it on their computer or take a picture with their phone. Loan specialists are available to answer questions by phone, email, or fax as needed.

The role technology plays

Many years of work have gone into creating and refining Rocket Mortgage technology. Even if a borrower would rather be walked through the mortgage process by a loan officer, state-of-the-art technology makes it possible to streamline the process in a way that benefits the customer.

Walters explains that the network platform is a key part of what makes Rocket Mortgage work. Not only must its technology support the origination of more than a million mortgages per year, it must also be easy to use and available to customers whenever they need it. If a borrower wants to know a loan's status or decides to upload a document in the middle of the night, that's possible.

This technology also allows the company to approve a mortgage in as little as eight minutes. It may have taken years of work to make that kind of turnaround possible, but a potential borrower can now be approved from anywhere, using only a smartphone.

According to Walters, the goal is to process a loan -- from the first moment of approval to closing -- in a few days. While most borrowers do not want to close that quickly, and complicated applications naturally require more time, it is possible.

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