If you have ever applied for a mortgage you know that expecting to get a loan quickly is not realistic. After you’ve figured out which lender you will apply to the applications can be tedious and require that you search for financial information that could be buried somewhere in your filing cabinet. Your lender's underwriting department then has to verify your gross monthly income, debts, savings, and review your credit report to determine if you qualify.

But there could be a better way. Quicken Loans Rocket Mortgage is one of a new breed of online services that are trying to streamline the mortgage application process. It wants to make applying for a mortgage as easy as buying a plane ticket online. Others offering similar services include Social Finance (known as SoFi) and Lenda.

How fast is the process? One particularly flashy ad for Quicken Loans Rocket Mortgage ran during the Super Bowl last month. It promised that you could get a mortgage in just eight minutes and that you’d quickly find out if you were approved for a mortgage loan and if you could lock in a rate.

While eight minutes may be ambitious, if you’re refinancing a loan, you may get the job done while sipping a latte at a local Starbucks, says Regis Hadiaris, the product lead for Rocket Mortgage. But if you’re starting from scratch, you'll need to get other things done like a home appraisal and a home inspection, which could take weeks.

How to Apply

The process works like this. When you visit Rocket Mortgage’s website, you fill in some personal information such as your income and the banks where you have accounts. Rocket Mortgage uses its network to automatically retrieve your bank history, paystubs, and bank statements. It will also get your credit reports. Hadiaris says that Quicken’s network supports almost half of all Americans so the system can import and verify income almost instantly. Quicken Loans can also import asset statements from 95 percent of the country’s financial institutions, so customers don’t have to find those statements.

While Rocket Mortgage aims to make the mortgage application process faster, it doesn't make it easier to qualify. Quicken Loans doesn't disclose the credit scores of its customers, but the average credit score for its customers is high—around 700, according to Credit Sesame, a credit-monitoring company.

Shopping Online for a Mortgage

If you decide to shop online for a mortgage, keep a few points in mind.

  • Don't accept a mortgage loan on impulse. When you go shopping online, it's understandable—maybe even excusable—if you buy a shirt or a pair of socks on impulse. But before deciding on a mortgage, take the time to understand the payment terms, the length of the loan, the annual percentage rate that will be charged as well as the closing costs.
  • Don't expect to save money by going online. An online service doesn't necessarily charge the lowest closing costs or interest rates. While Quicken Loans declined to disclose these details, Erin Lantz, vice president of mortgages at the housing website, Zillow, says that you shouldn’t expect a loan from Rocket Mortgage to be a lower cost option. “You pay for the service,” she says.
  • Get several quotes before making a decision on a lender. Don’t accept a loan just because you qualified for it—from Rocket Mortgage or any other lender. Take the time to understand the terms of the offer. “No one really understands everything about the [mortgage] process,” says Kevin Stein, Associate Director at the California Reinvestment Coalition, a consumer advocacy group based in San Francisco. Good thing, perhaps, that you don't have to make a decision in eight minutes.