How Long Does It Actually Take to Get a Mortgage?

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By Christine DiGangi

It may have happened several years ago, but Americans haven't forgotten about the financial crisis.

Perhaps no one knows that better right now than the Quicken Loans social media team, which has dealt with an onslaught of criticism since a commercial for its mortgage app aired during Super Bowl 50.

"You could get a mortgage on your phone," the commercial narrator says, as people tap a "BUY A HOME" app button while doing everyday things, like working and exercising. The commercial goes on to theorize the app — dubbed the Rocket Mortgage in reference to the eight minutes it takes a space shuttle to reach orbit — would make the mortgage process easier, which would lead to more homebuying, which would lead to the purchase of goods, which would then lead to more homebuying.

Some viewers, however, did not appreciate this message and, instead, interpreted the spot as a call for a new housing bubble. Here are a few tweets that went out after the commercial aired.
  • "Rocket Mortgage: Like The Housing Crisis Never Happened!" — John Ezekowitz (@JohnEzekowitz) February 8, 2016
  • "I'm sorry, but did Rocket Mortgage just describe the 2008 Financial Collapse in their ad? I'm pretty sure they did." — David Sibley (@davidsibley) February 8, 2016
  • "The subprime crisis was so nice, let's do it again #RocketMortgage #sb50 ad" — Evelyn Rusli (@EvelynRusli) February 8, 2016
Given the role of loose lending standards in the financial crisis, it's understandable why some people would not respond well to a company touting quick and easy mortgages. Still, it's important to keep in mind that, even with technological advancements, you generally can't get a mortgage in eight minutes.

There are still underwriting requirements introduced post-2008 that lenders have to meet. And the Quicken isn't really selling an 8-minute mortgage anyway. Its Rocket Mortgage references pre-approval, the first step in the mortgage process in which a lender looks closely at your credit report, your employment history and your income and determines which loan programs you qualify for, the maximum amount that you can borrow, and the interest rates you will be offered. Following pre-approval, Quicken's loans are still subject to other steps in the mortgage approval process, such as the home appraisal.

"Rocket Mortgage isn't about changing the RIGOR of the underwriting – rather it's about dramatically increasing the efficiency of the process," Jordan Fylonenko, a public relations manager for Quicken Loans, wrote in an email statement to Credit.com. "While clients can complete Rocket Mortgage quickly, the entire process is in their control and done at the speed they desire."

The Mortgage Application Process

In reality, it generally takes roughly a month and a half, on average, to get from start to finish in the mortgage process. In December, the average time to closing was 49 days (that's for all purchase and refinance loans), according to data from Ellie Mae, a software company that processes a massive amount of home loans.

As far as speed goes when it comes to buying a home, technology like Quicken's Rocket Mortgage app could be helpful. (The app is designed to simplify things by reducing paperwork and leveraging Big Data to verify your application information.) Still, it's important to remember to still do your due diligence when looking for loan. For instance, you'll want to comparison shop for mortgage lenders.

You'll also want to make sure your credit is in tip-top shape so you can qualify for the best terms and conditions. It's a good idea to pull copies of your credits reports prior to filling out mortgage applications to check for errors and to see if there is anything you can do to improve your credit scores. (You can do so by pulling your reports for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com and viewing your credit scores for free each month on Credit.com.) If necessary, you can rebuild credit by pinpointing your areas of opportunity, disputing inaccurate information and establishing a positive positive history. You can learn more about fixing your credit here.
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