According to a recent national survey(1) commissioned by Solidifi U.S. Inc. (“Solidifi”), three out of five borrowers want a more digital experience. More than half of borrowers preferred to review documents digitally at the beginning of the process and use eSignatures for documents in advance of closing. Yet, an overwhelming majority of borrowers, 87%, confirmed that they still want to close in-person where they can be walked through the process face-to-face.
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Results also indicated that borrowers prefer paper over fully digital closing methods, especially when it came to reviewing and signing the closing documents, and having a notary or closing agent witness the signing.
“2020 has been an unprecedented year. Facing record-low interest rates, historic mortgage volumes and a global pandemic, our industry continued to serve its customers in a safe and meaningful way,” said Solidifi President Loren Cooke. “This year’s survey confirmed that COVID-19 did not significantly change the borrower’s desire for human interaction and did not substantially change a borrower’s desire to close online.”
The Solidifi 2020 Consumer Mortgage Experience Survey surveyed 1,000+ borrowers who refinanced or purchased a home within the last two years, including during the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey evaluated the borrower’s end-to-end experience, including what motivated them to purchase or refinance, how they selected their lender, the importance of technology in the process, as well as consumer closing preferences and what ultimately drove their satisfaction. Of the respondents 52% had recently purchased a home and 48% had recently refinanced their mortgage.
“This year we expanded upon our 2019 Title Consumer Survey to include the borrowers’ experience with the two most critical consumer-facing touchpoints in their mortgage transaction, namely the appraisal and the closing,” added Cooke. “It was important for us to explore the entire consumer experience both pre and during COVID-19 – to assess the process, technology and experiential factors that ultimately drove borrower satisfaction.”
This year’s survey results re-affirm the findings from Solidifi’s 2019 survey, confirming that borrowers continue to want the best of both worlds – a streamlined experience that leverages technology in a way that is convenient, and a trusted expert at key moments to guide them through one of the most important transactions of their lives. “Given the significant investments that lenders are making in digital capabilities today, we believe there is an opportunity for lenders to better educate consumers on the closing process, including what to expect and the digital tools that are available to them,” said Cooke.
The survey results also revealed that both quality and professionalism drive higher borrower satisfaction when it comes to the appraisal and closing process – and that the overall experience with the closing agent is almost as important as the process itself. During COVID-19, 78% of borrowers surveyed experienced issues or delays in the closing process, up from 48% last year. However, there was a higher level of borrower understanding, which resulted in a satisfaction rating that was relatively unaffected by the pandemic.
Results showed that a lower-than-expected appraised value of the borrower’s home did not automatically result in borrower dissatisfaction, instead dissatisfaction was highest amongst borrowers who felt the appraisal was not thorough enough. More than half of unsatisfied borrowers attributed their poor appraisal experience with the quality of their appraisal and the professionalism of the appraiser.
“Our survey highlighted personal interaction, quality and professionalism as the key drivers of borrower satisfaction. This comes as no surprise as we have continued to see that our network management platform and model for lenders accesses the right appraiser and closing agent for every transaction – regardless of whether the transaction was closed traditionally, through hybrid eClose or remote online notarization – and consistently delivers a better experience for the borrower,” concluded Cooke.
 Market Street Research surveyed 1,000+ residential borrowers 18 years of age or older in the United States who have refinanced or purchased a home within the last two years. Panelists included a mix of those who closed prior to and during COVID-19. The survey was fielded using Snap Surveys, and the panel was sourced from Dynata. Fielding was executed in September 2020.
Solidifi is a leading network management services provider for the residential lending industry. Solidifi’s platform combines its proprietary technology and network management capabilities with tens of thousands of independent qualified professionals to create an efficient marketplace for the provision of mortgage lending services. Our clients include the majority of the top 100 mortgage lenders in the U.S. Solidifi is a leading independent provider of residential real estate appraisals to the mortgage market and a leading independent provider of title and mortgage closing services in America. Solidifi has offices in Buffalo (NY), Denver (CO) and Middletown (RI).
Solidifi is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Real Matters Inc. (TSX: REAL). For more information, visit www.solidifi.com.