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Mortgage borrowers are espousing the benefits of technology in the process of financing a home, but also recognize the need for—and value—face-to-face interactions with lenders, according to a new survey.

Fifty-seven percent of homeowners in Ellie Mae’s 2017 Borrower Insights Survey completed their most recent mortgage in-person, while 28 percent completed theirs both in-person and online. Eleven percent completed theirs solely online.

Forty percent of the homeowners surveyed would have preferred a “faster process” and “fewer delays”—challenges that can be eliminated or reduced with technology. Twenty percent, similarly, would have preferred a “shorter, easier to understand application.”

“There’s no question that technology is playing a larger role in the home-buying experience,” said Joe Tyrrell, executive vice president of Corporate Strategy at Ellie Mae, in a statement on the survey. “As we expected, many homeowners are seeking a faster and more streamlined experience—and it’s not just a millennial phenomenon; it’s homebuyers of all ages and both genders.”

Case in point: Millennial borrowers were more likely than any other generation to use a combination of in-person and online resources to obtain a mortgage, at 30 percent, but borrowers in Generation X followed at a close 28 percent, as well as baby boomer borrowers, at 20 percent. Though millennial borrowers place the highest importance of all the generations on security throughout the process—an area improved, generally, by technology—all generations value simplicity.

There is one aspect of the process largely unaffected by technology: locating a lender. According to the survey, 61 percent of borrowers selected the lender for their most recent mortgage based on a referral—23 percent on a referral from family or a friends, 17 percent on a referral from a bank, 16 percent on a referral from a real estate professional, and 5 percent on a referral from a financial advisor. Just 18 percent of borrowers found a lender through an online search.

The takeaway? For most borrowers, technology is only one part of the process. Eleven percent of the homeowners surveyed would have preferred their lender communicate with them more.

“Homeowners still want a personal interaction with their lender,” Tyrrell said. “They want someone who can answer important questions, and make them feel confident that everything will be handled correctly and on time.”

Source: Ellie Mae

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