Rocket seeks to grow solar panel market by offering loans

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

Rocket Companies Inc. on Monday said it will offer financing for solar panels and installation, leveraging its technology that allows customers to get mortgages, find homes and secure personal loans online.

As experts predict the booming housing and refinance market could be cooling, the Detroit-based mortgage giant has sought to expand into financial transactions in other industries such as auto sales and now green energy. It touts its technology platform as a tool to make time-consuming processes easier for consumers.

Rocket Companies Inc. will offer loans for solar panels.

“The automation makes a difference in the experience clients have,” said Joel Gurman, Rocket Mortgage’s executive vice president. “This is another one of those examples where it’s been around for 40 years, but it hasn’t necessarily caught on in the way that it could or should or will. We’re not only looking to leverage the technology that exists, but to build a market.”

A dedicated group of the company's sales team will serve as solar advisers. They will help determine if solar panels are the best choice for customers' home and connect homeowners to a digital financing application. The sales team also will facilitate the installation of the solar panels.

Joel Gurman is Rocket Mortgage's executive president.

Rocket will begin testing the solar offerings in the fourth quarter. They could become available publicly in early 2022.

There have been more than 2 million solar installations in the U.S. with panel installation reaching a record high in 2020, according to a joint study released earlier this year by the Solar Energy Industries Association and Wood Mackenzie. The report predicts the solar market in the country could quadruple by 2030 with roughly one in eight American homes having solar energy by then. Additionally, the federal government is promoting consumer adoption with tax rebates.

But at the end of the day, Rocket still is looking to sell mortgages. The company also announced a new rate-and-term refinance product that gives homeowners with an existing solar panel loan, which often have higher rates than mortgages, the opportunity to combine it with their mortgage for one interest rate.

The solar panel offering is a natural progression for the country's largest mortgage lender, Gurman said.

"Rocket Mortgage is not only the largest provider of home financing in the country, but one of the biggest marketing brands in the country," he said. "From our Rocket loans, homes, auto stand point, we're helping people by taking a bit of a complicated process and really simplifying it."

bnoble@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @BreanaCNoble