Borrowers find the best mortgage rate online, then many pick up the phone

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The vast majority of consumers start the mortgage process with internet research, but when it comes time to initiate contact with a lender, borrowers are nearly as likely to pick up the phone as they are to connect online.

About 34% of consumers initiated contact with a lender online, compared to 30% who reached out over the phone and 18% who made in-person contact, according to a survey on borrower trends conducted by Ellie Mae.

The survey found 92% of borrowers do online mortgage research. The most searched topics were finding the best mortgage rate and figuring out how large a loan they qualify for.

The mortgage software company surveyed 500 borrowers who obtained loans over the past 10 years. The results showed a growing expectation for digital mortgage tools.

"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," said Joe Tyrrell, executive vice president of corporate strategy at Ellie Mae, in a press release.

Homeowners looking to refinance were 21% more likely to reach out to a lender online than purchase borrowers over the past year.

After the initial research and discovery phase, 71% of borrowers worked with lenders who offered an online portal for document sharing. Those who were provided an online portal were two times as likely to claim that technology improved the mortgage process over those who weren't.

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Digital mortgages Mortgage technology Digital marketing First time home buyers E-docs Mortgage rates Purchase Refinance Ellie Mae