The consumer is always right—and even when they aren’t right, they still hold the power. This truism has transformed the retail space and it’s transformed the mortgage space as well, which has been continually increasing the focus on the borrower experience.
Consumers have so much more power now because they have access to so much information, and sometimes it’s literally at their fingertips in the form of a smartphone or other mobile device. That added information gives them more choice, which just adds to their power. One of those choices includes whether they should get a home loan through a mortgage broker, a retail bank branch, or an online lender.
Consumers are always getting savvier, said Austin Niemiec, executive vice president of Quicken Loans Mortgage Services (QLMS). Because of that, brokers have to be dynamic in their business model in order to help consumers identify which choice is the right one for them and their mortgage journey.
“Consumers are shopping more than ever before. Even more importantly, they’re not only shopping, but they’re inspecting the reputation of lenders, brokers, and everyone else more than they ever have—which they should,” Niemiec said. “They have instant access to review sites and they’re checking social media. Consumers want the best deal, but to them, the best deal’s dynamic. The interest rates are important, but it’s not just the rate. They want to feel good about who they’re working with, and that’s everything, from rates to reviews to website to social. That’s how the consumer of 2019 is identifying the best option.”
Brokers today have to deliver just as strongly online as they do in person, or else risk being passed over for someone who does delivers on every platform. Everyone’s online, but there has to be substance and smarts behind any virtual presence.
Mortgages may not be difficult for the experienced professional, but there’s a lot of technical information that consumers may find confusing. There’s also a lot of noise in the online arena, with everyone vying for consumers’ attention. It’s not enough to arm consumers with information; those consumers should also be able to take advantage of industry experts who can distill the information that’s relevant to them. In this regard, lenders can help.
“Mortgage companies are going to do all sorts of advertising and promote deals and things of that nature, but in general, the industry can make it better by assuring they have great, educated loan officers that are walking clients through and helping them understand exactly what they’re getting into. I think it comes down to companies educating and making sure their loan officers are pros so they’re able to navigate consumers to the best option,” Niemiec said.
Even though consumers can find the plethora of information, the process is getting better. There’s been a rapid uptick in the technology resources that loan originators have, all of which aim to make the loan experience seamless for borrowers. It’s a drastic difference compared to just a few years ago when people were faxing or emailing their bank statements, paystubs and W2s, Niemiec said.
“Now, in most cases, they can click a button and all that can be imported directly to the lender they’re choosing, which is awesome. We give our broker partners the ability to import the asset and income for the clients they send to QLMS. Our partners have dynamic guideline tools they can use on their mobile device 24/7 so that they’re providing certainty and perfect answers to their borrowers on the weekends or at night. Lastly, when finishing the mortgage process, QLMS partners can let their clients use the eClsoing process for a faster, more secure closing. So it is for sure 100% easier to get a loan today than it has been in the past.”
Slowly but surely, these measures are changing the process for the consumer. The hope is that sooner rather than later, borrower expectations around getting a mortgage will no longer be a laborious or difficult process. Instead, it will be education and enlightening, and just another series of steps to get to their ultimate goals of home ownership and/or building wealth through real estate.
“Every single day I’m seeing reviews from homeowners all across America saying, ‘wow, I didn’t even need to put my shoes on,’ ‘I didn’t have to get in my car,’ ‘I did it from my bed,’ ‘this blew me away,’” Niemiec said. “Consumers are feeling the simplicity and the ease of the mortgage process in 2019.”