OKLAHOMA CITY — It’s no secret that a majority of prospective homebuyers use the internet to search for a home. What may surprise some, however, is how many mortgage customers now submit their application digitally.
According to a 2017 J.D. Power study, both purchase and refinance customers say they most frequently go online to submit their mortgage applications. The 43 percent who did so in 2017 represented a jump from just 28 percent in 2016.
Those numbers – representing consumer preferences for how they want to do business – are part of the reason community banks have begun empowering their customers with online and mobile mortgage application tools. These tools allow consumers to have more control of how, when and where they apply for a mortgage.
At Arvest Bank, for example, a recently updated online mortgage platform and a newly launched mobile app give mortgage customers the ability to act quickly in a real estate market marked by low inventory and heightened competition among buyers.
“It’s important that these self-serve conveniences are available for those who want that option,” said Chris Cooper, Oklahoma City-base mortgage manager for Arvest. “At the same time though, some customers may still want to tap into the expertise our local mortgage experts can offer. What we’ve really tried to do is create a hybrid approach that allows the consumer to choose what works best for their unique situation.”
“Today’s consumer prefers a streamlined process, so we’re delivering those efficiencies in the area of mortgage loan applications,” said Steven Plaisance, president and CEO of Arvest’s mortgage division. “Through the Arvest Home4Me mobile app, loan applicants can submit the necessary documents for prequalification in the first few screens of the app. The app populates the data into the system for a loan officer to review, then we contact the applicant and complete the request.”
Similarly, Arvest uses an online mortgage platform developed by Ellie Mae that allows borrowers to research rates and types of loans, and to submit an application electronically.
“Leveraging technology is no longer an option for local banks,” Plaisance said. “It’s a must.”
Despite the mortgage customers’ increased preference for a digital experience, though, community banks still offer the kind of personalized service customers crave. That sentiment is reflected in the J.D. Power study, as it indicated satisfaction among customers applying online declined by 18 points year-over-year.