Unless you are buying a house in cash, you pretty much have to have a mortgage pre-approval letter from your bank before you even start house hunting. That’s typically something you would go to the bank for, but a number of mortgage services now also allow you to go through this process online. Online real estate site Zillow has long offered mortgage comparison services and a web-based pre-approval process, but today it is taking this one step further by adding pre-approval to its mobile apps, too.
So now, when you spontaneously decide that it’s time to buy your dream home, you can get pre-approved right on the doorstep as you walk into the Saturday open house while the smell of fresh-baked cookies from the seller’s agent wafts into your face. Pre-approval is available through Zillow’s Mortgages app and its real estate search app on iOS.
The process on mobile is the same as anywhere else. You fill out your info and lenders will come back with some initial quotes. From there, you can authorize the lenders you like best to pull your credit report info and assuming your numbers match up, you’ll get a pre-approval letter sent right to your phone. Given that these letters are just for show and tell, you can always select another lender later on anyway, but at least nobody will kick you out of the open house because you aren’t pre-approved and look like a hobo.
According to its latest earnings report, Zillow’s Mortgage Marketplace — which is essentially a lead-generation service — handled 5.5 million loan requests in the second quarter of 2014, up 3% from the year-ago quarter. Adding the pre-approval service to mobile, the company believes, will help continue to drive up this contact volume to lenders. In the last quarter, mortgages accounted for almost 12 percent of Zillow’s total revenue – up from 8 percent a year ago. That makes it the company’s fastest-growing revenue source, though it’s still far behind what it makes from its real estate and advertising services.