Homebuyers Want More Digitized Experience, Without Sacrificing the Basics

digital homebuying

Consumers crave a faster, more digitized mortgage experience — just not at the expense of losing a mortgage planner’s personal touch.  That was the overarching takeaway from a recently released special report in Fannie Mae’s National Housing Survey (NHS), as reported at mortgagenewsdaily.com.  The NHS, which polls a large panel of consumers each month to gauge attitudes toward housing and related topics, found that borrowers — especially those who are younger and of a higher-income bracket — want better digital resources to speed up the mortgage process.  The heightened demand for swifter home closings comes as buyers — perhaps subconsciously, perhaps deliberately — are inevitably comparing the mortgage experience to the rest of society, which is collectively moving at a faster pace with each passing day as processes become more digitized and streamlined.  “As the Amazons and Uber of the world continue to raise the bar for ‘consumer-grade’ experiences, home buyers have made it clear that it’s also time for the home purchasing and mortgage processes to change,” said Henry Cason, the senior vice president and head of digital products at Fannie Mae.  Cason’s No. 1 conclusion from the NHS Study detailed at mortgagenewsdaily.com was that, “Above all, borrowers want less paperwork. Gathering the necessary financial information to apply and get approved for a loan was cited as the most difficult part of process by far.  “This is especially true for those over the age of 45 or those who have purchased more than one home in their lifetime,” Cason added.

Among 3,000 recent home buyers who participated in the Fannie Mae survey, 66 percent revealed they would be “somewhat interested” or “very interested” in a fully digitized mortgage process where all steps could be handled via the web. This includes both the application and preapproval.  As for the benefits that home buyers anticipate coming from increased digitization, 27 percent of those surveyed cited a reduction in paperwork, 20 percent believed comparing offers from competing lenders would be easier, and 16 percent said they hoped for less “back and forth” during the process. Meanwhile, 67 percent preferred online preapproval, 72 percent wanted the ability to submit a digital loan application, and 70 percent desired the same digital options with the financial paperwork needed to complete a home loan.  Perhaps most importantly, many home buyers want the entire mortgage process to take no longer than a month. The current median time for the process — from application to close — is one month and five days, according to the article at mortgagenewsdaily.com.  A more efficient and web-centric mortgage process isn’t all that buyers care about, however.  Mortgagenewsdaily.com reports that the same National Housing Survey from Fannie Mae showed that most borrowers still crave human interaction from their mortgage planner. Specifically, 65 percent wanted a lender to explain their mortgage terms and options, while 58 percent hoped someone could their review loan documents for them, and 56 percent were interested in receiving assistance with the signature process.

So, what is the conclusion from all this?  As the world moves faster and borrowers continue to voice their desires for accelerated mortgage experiences all while keeping a lender’s personal touch, expect lenders and the companies for which they work to adapt accordingly.  The result will be a greater emphasis than ever on the creation of consumer-facing technology.