Quicken Loans could grow in Charlotte, CEO says

Quicken Loans employees participate in a company gathering in 2017 at the firm’s south Charlotte offices.
Quicken Loans employees participate in a company gathering in 2017 at the firm’s south Charlotte offices.

In 2010, Quicken Loans opened its first Charlotte office as the online mortgage lender was expanding outside its home state of Michigan.

This week, the chief executive of the Detroit-based company said he sees room to bulk up the firm’s Charlotte operation, which employs more than 350 people at 6135 Park South Drive.

“We plan to continue to grow that site there,” Jay Farner said in an Observer interview. “We’ve been nothing but pleased with our team members there.”

The chief executive spoke soon after Quicken announced it was the largest retail mortgage lender in the U.S. during the last three months of 2017. In doing so, Quicken – known for its Rocket Mortgage application tool – unseated Wells Fargo from the top spot.

Farner, who was promoted to his role last year after more than two decades with Quicken, said he didn’t have specifics on growth for Charlotte. But he noted the Park South Drive office already serves as the company’s fourth-largest employment location, behind Phoenix. Detroit and Cleveland are the privately-held firm’s largest hubs.

Quicken Loans CEO Jay Farner Photo courtesy of Quicken Loans

Quicken established its Charlotte operation the same year the company moved its corporate headquarters to downtown Detroit from Livonia, Mich. In deciding to come to Charlotte, Farner said the company was impressed by the financial services talent in the region. Today, the Charlotte operation houses employees who underwrite, process and close mortgages, as well as service such loans, Farner said.

Quicken has ballooned in size and market share since its founding as Rock Financial in 1985 with three employees. In 2002, it changed its name to Quicken. The company now employs about 17,470 people.

Its growth has come in part as more consumers look to complete financial transactions online, thanks to the rise of smart phones and tablets. Bank of America and Wells Fargo are among competitors preparing to launch digital mortgage application tools.

In the fourth quarter of last year, Quicken originated $25.1 billion in mortgages, compared with Wells Fargo’s $22.3 billion, according to industry publication Inside Mortgage Finance. Factoring in mortgages Wells Fargo acquires from other lenders, however, Wells’ mortgage volume was $53.2 billion.

Quicken’s fourth-quarter milestone follows its 2016 launch of Rocket Mortgage with a commercial during the Super Bowl that year. Quicken received backlash for the ad, which touted how fast people can buy a home using Rocket. Citing the financial crisis, critics questioned the wisdom of speeding up mortgage approvals.

The company is returning to this year’s Super Bowl with another Rocket Mortgage commercial. Unlike in 2016, Quicken has not released the commercial ahead of its scheduled premiere during the game’s second quarter. Farner told the Observer the spot will take a humorous look at challenges people face in the mortgage process and some of the clarity Rocket Mortgage provides.

Deon Roberts: 704-358-5248, @DeonERoberts