Having a strong online presence and standing out online is now more important than ever. In the age of online shopping and having a wealth information at our fingertips, it’s no surprise that the internet is now the first place borrowers of all ages go at the very start of the loan process.
In the last year, 92% of borrowers did online research prior to reaching out to lenders, according to a new survey by Ellie Mae. That’s compared to 57% between five and 10 years ago.
This may seem obvious for home buyers under 35, but even baby boomers are getting busy tapping away at their keyboards. Online portals that are secure and easy to use were most impressive to borrowers over 55. Of those baby boomers who were offered an online portal, 79% believe technology improved the loan process. While millennials are still twice as likely to turn to their device at the start of the loan process and to make first contact with their lender online, 1 in 4 boomers opted to do the same. In fact, most borrowers (34%) across the board reached out to their lender online, surpassing the 30% who chose to make a phone call.
From comparing loan options to uploading documents and completing the loan application, borrowers performed nearly every phase of the loan process digitally. But it doesn’t end there—almost half (48%) of borrowers say they would have liked the option to order and pay for an appraisal online as well. They were also open to pre-qualifying and getting a pre-approval letter from a lender over the internet, rather than doing it in person.
For lenders looking to gain a competitive advantage with digital tools, consider enabling simple online applications, providing a portal for easy communication and the ability to share and review documents, and ensuring online capabilities are compatible with all devices. Originators looking to capture all segments of the purchase and refi market can promote these tools to all of their past client database and prospective new clients; not just those that were born after 1980.
Offering digital services is becoming standard practice throughout the mortgage industry, but the human element shouldn’t be forgotten.
“While today’s borrowers are keen to save time and effort by using online capabilities, they still want to be able to talk to someone knowledgeable when they have questions or concerns,” the report reads.