Bosses may not like it, but work and mortgage shopping seem to go perfectly together, according to a recent survey. The survey suggests that online lending is taking employees away from work—distracting them from being productive employees, undermining the growth of gross domestic product.
I beg to differ.
According to research from MortgageMarvel.com covering 650,000 mortgage applications filed with 1,100 lending institutions across the U.S. in 2012 indicates buyers are taking advantage of technology to apply for mortgages throughout the day.
For instance as many as 60% of borrowers went online and submitted mortgage applications between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays—with only a fraction of that number, 15%, filing on a Saturday or a Sunday.
It’s more likely to represent a generational shift in shopping preferences as well. Those 18 years old to 34 years old are interested in buying their first homes—having grown tired of the paucity of choices available among rental units. Also, they are among the most comfortable as a demographic group shopping online: they prefer mortgage shopping through the web, to getting in their cars and driving to their banks to shop for a mortgage.
They are simply doing what comes naturally to them.
To be sure, employees are not shirking their job responsibilities by going online to shop and purchase mortgages. Many in the past have left work to drive to their banks and shop for mortgage loans. That took even more time than shopping and applying online requires.
Going online enables borrowers to shop for a mortgage without leaving the office, so they were at least around to answer a colleague’s question, reply to emails, handle any issues that could not wait, and so forth. Technology has stretched the workday, people work longer hours, are available to their jobs through their home computers and their smart phones almost all the time. An employee, therefore, may fill out the application from home and still be taking time away from work.
Under those circumstances, stealing a few minutes from the workday—especially because just what hours constitute the workday is less clear and working hours have expanded. A key here is that the applications can be filled out within a half hour, much less time than was required in the past, and most borrowers complete them at one time.
Many borrowers simply find the process easier than in the past, and lenders have done a good of addressing issues and reducing the commitment of time required to apply for a mortgage and close the loan.
It’s clear, for example, that online mortgage shopping alleviates many of the hassles that have traditionally been associated with applying for a mortgage. Borrowers can compare mortgage information among several lenders, anonymously, free of aggressive sales practices. But there are other benefits as well.
Borrowers that apply online receive faster response rates. Moreover, rates are posted and delays that are part of the process in the terrestrial world—waiting for a call back from a loan officer and follow-up appointment that may not occur for a few days—are eliminated.
Getting the rates immediately eliminates the risk for borrowers that rates rise during the period during which an application is submitted to a lender.
Technology maximizes the experiences for borrowers with current rates, ensures that data is secure, and provides identity protection. Lenders continuously make an effort to improve the technology, safeguard accuracy, and dedicate themselves to constantly improving the consumer experience.
The result is that the lending process is faster, easier, and less time consuming than in the past—that’s good news for lenders as well as borrowers and their bosses.
Matt Strickberger is the managing partner of OnPoint PR and Consulting LLC, a public relations firm that represents lenders, servicers, technology companies and others. He was editor of Mortgage Technology magazine from 1997-2000. If you have comments or suggestions for future columns, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.