A survey recently conducted by mortgage software firm Ellie Mae shows that borrowers are increasingly initiating the mortgage process online.
According to the recent “Connecting with Borrowers Online” study, borrower online activity has accelerated over the last decade, becoming common in every phase of the mortgage process, from research and discovery to application, qualification and approval.
In the last year, 92% of borrowers conducted online research prior to reaching out to lenders, compared with only 57% who took out mortgage loans between five and 10 years ago.
Additionally, 34% of borrowers initiated contact with their lender online. Among these borrowers, millennials were twice as likely as Baby Boomers to make initial contact with lenders online (43% vs. 24%).
According to the report, 72% of borrowers surveyed said they conducted online research to find out where they could get the best rate; 59% used online to find out how much they qualify for, and 48% used the Web to learn where to find a lender they can trust.
Purchase borrowers were twice as likely to spend more than 10 hours in online research than re-fi borrowers.
Among all borrowers, the most common means of first contact was online (34%), followed by phone (30%), and in-person (18%).
Online first contact is trending upward – 46% within the last year vs. only 20% between five and 10 years ago.
Refinancers were 21% more likely to reach out to a lender online than purchase borrowers.
Although borrowers are showing increasing preference for online channels, the option of connecting with a live human remains important to them.
All borrowers surveyed indicated at least some desire to speak with a loan officer in person, especially during the application phase.
Seventy-one percent of borrowers surveyed said they worked with a lender that provided an online portal for sharing documents – and a majority reported that they either “like” or “loved” using the portal.