The trend among mortgage borrowers to go online for research and discovery has accelerated in the last 10 years, with 92% of borrowers in 2017 going online before reaching out to lenders, according to the Connecting with Borrowers Online study released by Ellie Mae.
Online activity has become common in every phase of the mortgage process, from research and discovery to application, qualification, and approval. However, just between five and 10 years ago, only 57% of borrowers who took out mortgage loans went online for research.
Last year, 72% of borrowers went online to find out where they can get the best rate. Fifty-nine percent went digital to find out how much they qualified for, while 48% conducted online research to find a lender they could trust. Purchase borrowers could spend more than 10 hours online for research, and they were twice as likely to do so compared with refinance borrowers.
Additionally, Ellie Mae found that 34% of all borrowers initiated contact with a lender online. This was followed by phone (30%) and in-person (18%). Despite the growing use of technology for the mortgage process, all generations of borrowers indicated that the human element remains important to them.
Borrowers from all age groups had at least some desire to speak with a loan officer in person, especially during the application phase.
“The digital mortgage is an idea whose time has come,” said Joe Tyrrell, executive vice president of corporate strategy at Ellie Mae. “Borrowers today expect a simple online application that guides them step-by-step through the loan process. But high-tech and human-touch are equally important. Borrowers still want to speak with someone knowledgeable when they have questions or concerns.”