Mortgage paperwork consumes billions of sheets of paper per year – study

by Anna Sobrevinas24 Apr 2017
The sheer amount of paperwork involved in getting a mortgage can be daunting to customers. A recent survey by mortgage website found out that qualifying for a mortgage only came to paperwork as the most challenging part of the mortgage process. In addition, a study by the company found that the 7.8 million mortgages processed in the country per year entail 2.2 billion sheets of paper – equivalent to 264,000 trees consumed per year.

FREEandCLEAR’s analysis found out that “producing mortgage paperwork requires over 41,000 tons of wood, 358 million BTUs of energy and generates nearly 62 million pounds of greenhouse gases.”

“Borrowers frequently express how overwhelmed they are by the sheer volume of mortgage paperwork,” said FREEandCLEAR Co-Founder Michael Jensen. “In recognition of Earth Day we wanted to explore the environmental side of the issue, and the results were eye-opening.”

As much as paperwork is expected to protect and inform borrowers about the mortgage process, too much can be overwhelming and can backfire from its purpose by causing more confusion than clarity. Borrowers may be overwhelmed by as much as 280 pages of mortgage documents.

Online and mobile platforms are possible solutions to the problem, but the company said these don’t change the number of documents used in the process, while prohibiting digital signatures could work but would bring about a different set of issues.

Lessening the amount of paperwork is the “obvious answer,” but it “seems unlikely that government regulators will eliminate or streamline any documents that are designed to protect borrowers, especially as the long-term effects of the mortgage crisis continue to linger,” FREEandCLEAR said in a news release.

"Mortgage document overload is a big challenge but also a tremendous opportunity,” Jensen said. “If lenders and regulators work together the benefits for both borrowers and the planet could be huge,” said Jensen.

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