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Homeowners – Even Millennials – Want Both High-tech, High-touch Mortgage Experience

March 10, 2017

A new survey released by Ellie Mae this week provides a telling snapshot of today’s mortgage lending experience, from how homeowners found their lenders to what they wanted more of during the process.

The main takeaway: Technology is enabling loan officers to provide many of the things homeowners want – including speed and simplicity – but frequent, face-to-face communication is still critical.

The Ellie Mae 2017 Borrower Insights Survey found that 57 percent of homeowners applied for and completed their mortgages fully in person, while 27 percent interacted with their loan officer both in person and online. Millennials were the biggest group who reported using this combined approach (30 percent), followed by Gen Xers (28 percent) and Baby Boomers (20 percent).

When asked what could have improved their mortgage experience, the majority cited a faster process and fewer process delays – perhaps no huge surprise, given today’s hot real estate market and the advantage of having a short days-to-close offer when in multiple-offer scenarios.

Coming in second, a quarter of respondents (25 percent) reported wanting more face-to-face and more frequent communication from their loan officers. When broken down by generation, more millennials than any other group cited this as an area for improvement (35 percent), compared to Gen Xers (23 percent) and Baby Boomers (19 percent) – suggesting that, despite the wide belief that millennials prefer interacting with bots over humans, there is evidence of the opposite when it comes to the mortgage experience.

When asked how they found their loan officer, 61 percent were referred by their friend, family member, Realtor, financial advisor or bank, indicating that loan officers must still prioritize staying top of mind with their COIs (centers of influence) to grow business.

At the same time, 18 percent relied on an online search, with a quarter of millennials (25 percent) finding their loan officer through online means. With nearly half of renting millennials likely to buy a home if they moved, according to Fannie Mae’s National Housing Survey, having an easily findable online presence is critically important for loan officers.

“There’s no question that technology is playing a larger role in the homebuying experience,” said Joe Tyrrell, executive vice president of corporate strategy at Ellie Mae, in a statement. “As we expected, many homeowners are seeking a faster and more streamlined experience.

“But what’s even more telling is that homeowners still want a personal interaction with their lender. They want someone who can answer important questions, and make them feel confident that everything will be handled correctly and on time.”

There’s no doubt that the requirements on today’s loan officers are greater than ever. As this survey shows, they’re expected to deliver on both speed and simplicity throughout the homebuying process while also providing personalized, high-touch advice and support. Now more than ever, firms must provide their loan officers with the right tools and technologies to help them successfully meet these demands.

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Connie Sung Moyle

Senior Manager, Corporate Communications

Connie Sung Moyle leads global public relations, analyst relations and content for Hearsay.

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