Lenders, agents trump online sources as top mortgage influencers

by Alison McAvoy

The internet offers scores of tips and resources for finding a mortgage, but according to a recent survey conducted by Fannie Mae’s Economic & Strategic Research group, homebuyers feel more comfortable shopping for mortgages with assistance from specialists.

According to the survey, when asked what route they took to research mortgages, 77 percent of participants reported to have sought out real estate agents, 75 percent reached out to mortgage lenders, and 63 percent consulted with friends and family. Of these respondents, 32 percent said the mortgage lenders were most helpful and 30 percent preferred agents. Only 13 percent favored online resources in helping them shop for mortgages.

Why are buyers shying away from electronic mortgage shopping?

Homebuyers of all ages and incomes seem to prefer resources that they can trust over those that are more accessible, like the internet. When asked why they chose particular resources to assist in finding a mortgage, 26 percent of recent homebuyers claimed mortgage lenders were most trustworthy, 35 percent most trusted real estate agents, and 50 percent depended on friends and family. Only 8 percent of recent homebuyers found online mortgage-shopping resources trustworthy.

In terms of convenience, however, online mortgage shopping takes the cake. Forty-six percent of recent homebuyers cited online resources as the most convenient way to find mortgages, while only 11 to 14 percent preferred mortgage lenders or real estate agents. Most homebuyers are using mobile devices to shop for homes rather than look for mortgages, however.

Even millennials, masters of the age of technology, prefer face-to-face interactions with agents and mortgage lenders to apps, websites like Zillow or Realtor.com, or social media. Of participants aged 18 to 34, roughly 27 percent opted to use mortgage lenders in their searches, 29 percent favored real estate agents, and 23 percent turned to their friends and family. Only 14 percent of millennials preferred online mortgage shopping, despite most using the phone or internet to speak with agents or mortgage lenders.