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Quicken Loans’ Chief Executive Officer: Economic Excitement is Building, Detroit Well Positioned

Quicken Loans’ Jay Farner sees excitement about the economy increasing and thinks the city of Detroit and surrounding region are positioned well in the post-COVID-19 era.

“The vaccine and the excitement around the vaccine and what it will do for the economy is starting to kick in. Overall, we are pretty excited for what 2021 will hold for us if we keep on that path,” said Farner, who noted it’s a great time to double down on talent and business attraction and place-making efforts.

Farner, who is also the chief executive officer of Rocket Mortgage, joined ABC News’ Rebecca Jarvis, chief business, economics, and technology correspondent, for a moderated discussion following the release of the State of the Region report.

Here are three other key takeaways from the discussion:

Home prices likely to remain high with low inventory, making it a great time to be a builder.

While mortgage rates have ticked up some, they remain low and more people are borrowing. At the same time, housing inventory remains extraordinarily low with the pandemic creating an increased emphasis on homeownership while slowing new construction.

“We are going to see housing prices continue to rise,” Farner said. “There is a lot of available cash. A lot of people want to buy a home. COVID has put a real emphasis on homeownership and yet inventory will remain low.”

“If you’re a builder, you’re going to have access to capital and great demand. It’s a great time to put shovels in the ground and launch developments,” said Farner. “People are recognizing they can do so much from home and that’s a healthy thing for the housing market for years to come.”

Employee expectations of flexible schedules are here to stay.

Farner predicted that companies that fail to maintain some of the flexibility created by working from home over the past 12 months will struggle and said that reality is driving decisions at the Rock family of companies.

“We’ve made some massive investments in our buildings in Detroit…to go from work places to collaboration spaces,” Farner said. “We see the value of the office more as the catalyst for great ideas and innovative thinking versus the day-to-day work that can be done better at home.”

“That flexibility isn’t going away, I think it benefits our teammates, it benefits our business, it benefits our clients,” said Farner, noting those realities have resulted in his companies investing heavily in technology over the long-term to maintain flexibility and productivity moving forward.

Detroit’s talent attraction efforts benefitting from remote work trends.

Detroit’s competition against other cities for top tier talent is benefitting from the life flexibility created by the pandemic. Farner noted talent is migrating to the city because the cost of living and the quality of life is far better in Detroit than many other locations.

The pandemic is also allowing employers like Quicken Loans or Rock Mortgage to take a different approach to recruiting prospective talent by allowing new hires to test out employment before moving to the area.

“It’s become an even easier way for us to attract talent that isn’t familiar with Detroit, but they become increasingly excited (about it after taking the job),” said Farner.

He also touted similar advantages for homegrown talent.

“Students don’t have to run to the coasts for a job. That allows them to stay here and plant roots, while still working wherever they want to because of the flexibility. That’s a good thing for a city like Detroit, especially considering all the investments we have been making over the last 10 years.”