Buyer experience improving with mortgage lenders

by Timothy Inklebarger

Homebuyers are happier with lenders overall in 2019, but customer satisfaction took a nosedive in the second quarter when loan volume spiked, according to a study by J.D. Power.

Quicken Loans was ranked the highest in customer satisfaction for the 10th year in a row, followed by Fairway Independent and Guild Mortgage Company.

The firm’s 2019 U.S. Primary Mortgage Origination Satisfaction study showed that swings in volume still pose problems for lenders.

“Mortgage originators have been consistently transforming their businesses by adding self-service technology tools and reducing customer-facing staff, but when put to the test by an unexpected surge in refinancing volume, this approach fell short of customer expectations,” John Cabell, director of wealth and lending intelligence at J.D. Power, said in a press statement. “It is critical that originators get the balance right between tech and staffing to be able to deal with the swings in loan volume that can dramatically change from month to month.”

It was go-time for lenders in Q2, when the mortgage origination growth rate jumped 54 percent, and that’s when customer service took a hit. On a 1000-point scale, overall satisfaction dropped from 869 in Q1 to 853 in Q2, according to the report. While the satisfaction rate suffered in Q2, overall customer satisfaction was up 140 points from the previous year, on average.

High-tech communications are often near the top of the list when it comes to innovations that mortgage companies are proudest of, but it may be that some borrowers aren’t ready for that type of interaction when it comes to lending. Many buyers over the last year continued relying on email and phone calls during the process – at rates of 70 percent and 68 percent, respectively – rather than mobile apps, which were utilized a mere 15 percent of the time, the report noted.

Also, there may be a case of too many cooks in the kitchen when it comes to communication. Intermediaries in the process – brokers, real estate agents and builders – negatively impacted customer satisfaction, the report noted. Satisfaction rates dropped as much as 40 points in deals involving intermediaries and trust was down as much as 50 points.