Increasing confidence when mortgage shopping

Since the early stages of building MortgageCS, we have been interacting with financial advisors to validate the platform features. Throughout this process, the platform’s ability to harness real-time mortgage data has earned and maintained a top value position. In fact, this component addresses one of the “aha” moments we learned of back in early 2015. Here is how we learned of the mortgage confidence problem – and what we did to solve it.

Uncovering the Confidence Problem

In early 2015, we conducted an anonymous survey focused on understanding buying behaviors surrounding mortgages.  We asked respondents to rank the factors they consider important in a mortgage offer.  Perhaps not surprisingly, interest rate took the top spot, followed by bank or lender fees in the second position. The next three positions were inconsistent but included proximity to institution, reputation of institution and personal relationships.

We then asked respondents to rate their level of confidence in obtaining the best loan terms for their given situation. The scale included a 5-point range from Very Confident to Not Confident At All.  Shockingly, only 9% of respondents revealed they were Very Confident. When combined with Confident, the number grew to just 21%.

According to this data, only 1 in 5 recent mortgage shoppers were Confident they obtained the best loan terms – despite it being the top priority when ranked against other factors.

How could this be?  One possible explanation can be found by looking at the existing mortgage landscape.  A fragmented market, with lots of advertising dollars and a perception of a complicated transaction could take some blame. Perhaps consumers are settling early and avoiding “pain” (a human tendency) – rather than continuing on what can be perceived as a long and complicated journey. Or, perhaps there is just no way for consumers to know, given the current tools available to the market.

Solving the Confidence Problem

We looked at what makes people feel confident when shopping. When it comes to many large buying decisions, using prices that other people paid can be a good judge of deal quality.  Anyone that has purchased a car recently, likely reviewed what others have been paying. Based on that, they either approach the car buying process with confidence or, if after the fact, may realize they overpaid. Regardless, the fact remains that access to information can create confidence in approaching a buying situation.

So, we applied this to mortgage shopping when building the MortgageCS platform.  Market Insights will collect proprietary data, harnessed within the platform, to inform consumers of “what others paid” for a mortgage that matches the key terms of their loan. This is part of our magic sauce and routinely generates a “Whoa!” reaction from financial advisors during a demo presentation.

So, will the Market Insights component solve the problem of “lack of confidence in mortgage offers”?  Based on initial reactions from professionals who have witnessed Market Insights in action, it certainly will.    

3 ways to keep your payment the same when rates are on the rise

When it comes to mortgages and the home buying process, interest rates are almost always front and center. This is not a surprising thing, as nothing else impacts the housing market quite like a quick rise (or drop) in mortgage interest rates.  Additionally, mortgage interest rates are one of the most commonly compared terms when consumers shop lenders and loan officers.

For most first time buyers, sticking to a budget is essential. So what is one to do when rates suddenly increase?  Well, there are a few options – some a bit easier to consider than the others.

Look for smaller homes in the same area

If your heart is set on purchasing a home in a particular area, interest rates have recently increased AND you are on a fixed budget, there is little you can do but search for a lower priced home. If you were looking for a townhouse, this may mean you need to reduce the bedroom and bathroom count or perhaps even switch to consider condominium units. You may no longer be able to afford a home with the upgrades you hoped to include or perhaps you can no longer afford the unit with a basement or garage.  In either case, some level of sacrifice will need to be made as the macro-environment of interest rates increases.

Look for homes in a less expensive area

Maybe your heart isn’t set on buying a home in a particular area – but rather the home’s amenities are front and center. If this sounds like you, then it may be easy to consider a home in a different school district, township or even over state lines (if applicable). Keep in mind that the school district can be a very important factor in reselling a property – so a bargain price today may be more difficult to sell in the future (and may appreciate at a slower rate overall).

Delay buying until next year

No real estate professional wants to see you delay the purchase of a home – and perhaps you don’t want to either. However, if you are set on a certain property type and location for your new home, this may be the most viable option provided that you can save money at a rate that will outpace the appreciation on the home and any subsequent increases in interest rates. Note: This may be a HUGE amount and ultimately be unknown until a time in the future. 

Keep in mind there are some significant risks with delaying the purchase of a home. First, the interest rate environment is largely unpredictable and rates could increase further – actually making the home less affordable next year.  Second, home prices could increase which translates to you spending more over the life of your loan, and missing out on a year’s worth of home value appreciation. Third, there is no way to know what the home inventory may look like.  If there are homes you would consider purchasing today, there is no way to guarantee the inventory will be available next year (Just ask anyone that wanted to buy a house in 2016 and waited until 2017 when inventories were down 40%!).

Common reasons you aren’t shopping for a mortgage – and how to fix it

“I can’t wait to shop for my mortgage!”  Said no one, ever.

When it comes to the tasks associated with buying a home, shopping for a mortgage may win the award for least desirable action. Let’s look at the reasons why some people don’t shop for a mortgage loan and provide simple solutions to improve outcomes all around.  After all, the financial impact of a mortgage loan will last years, perhaps decades, beyond the few days required to identify the best mortgage lender.

Reason 1: You didn’t realize you could shop. If you fall into this category – we’ll save you the embarrassment and get it over with quickly.  You can always shop for a mortgage – even if your Realtor or Financial Advisor has an “in-house” lender or mortgage broker. Generally speaking, any “in-house” lender or mortgage broker is paying (one way or another) for this privilege. This can, and likely does, have an impact on the loan terms offered – ultimately delivering a less than desirable result for you in the form of inflated fees or interest rates.

How to fix it: Great news!  You just did. You now know you can shop – so do it!  You are in charge of your own financial well being and any “pain,” perceived or otherwise, that may come with shopping for a mortgage will be short-lived compared to the consequences of overpaying on a mortgage for 30 years.

MortgageCS is an unbiased mortgage resource, so we can’t help but suggest you use MortgageCS.com to ensure that shopping is efficient and hassle free.  There is no other place where you can easily company mortgage options without a bombardment of phone calls and undesirable credit report inquiries.  

Reason 2: You believe all mortgage companies offer the same rates.  This one is just about “as a matter as fact” as it gets. When it comes to the rates offered by mortgage brokers and lenders, their operational structure does a good deal of the talking.  A few differences to look out for include:

  • Layers of management:  Mortgage companies earn the bulk of their revenue when they originate new loans.  Accordingly, a company with multiple layers of management will have more “mouths to feed” from each loan compared to a mortgage company with less management.
  • Office location(s):  When it comes to overhead expenses for a mortgage lender, just about nothing exceeds the combined expense of banking licenses and equipment for a physical location.  Not only does each physical location need to spend several thousand dollars each year to maintain their banking licenses in each state, but they also need to pay for the office equipment, fancy desks and signs, and all other expenses.

There are several other reasons why rates can vary between lenders, but rather than describe the depths and complexities of the secondary market, we hope you may take our word for it!

How to fix it: Again…you just did. You now know that different mortgage companies offer different rates and fees in order to support their operational structures and overhead expenses.  Accordingly, a rate that may seem “impossible” for one lender, may actually be provided by another lender on an everyday basis. 

Reason 3: You are afraid to shop.  Shopping for a mortgage involves all types of new terms, a market that changes at least once a day and pressure from all directions to meet your purchase agreement deadlines.  Factor in the pressure from a real estate agent telling you that the “only one” that can close on time is their mortgage professional and the fact that we, as humans, don’t like to tell people “no”, and you have an environment which can quickly become overwhelming and scary.  

How to fix it: Remember that you are in charge of your own financial future.  Real estate agents work hard to ensure the property sale transaction goes smoothly- but they are not compensated one way or another based on the terms on your new mortgage loan (and they don’t need to make the payment either). While many mortgage originators stationed inside a Realtor’s office may offer ultra-competitive rates and may have a great reputation for getting to the closing table on time, don’t forget Reason 1 or 2 from above. 

Also know that a pre-qualification doesn’t require that you continue with a particular mortgage lender. Up until the time when you are required to obtain a loan commitment, you have the option of shopping and searching for the loan terms which best suit your financial goals going forward.

 

The Journey to Solve the Mortgage Shopping Problem

Our story began nearly two years ago when we wrote a business plan to improve the mortgage shopping process for consumers. The journey to create an unbiased mortgage-shopping platform that protects privacy and generates amazing results for families allowed us to confirm numerous hypotheses and learn some rather surprising facts along the way.  In addition to sharing these insights and other findings here in our blog, we’ll be posting stories from our various business interactions with Realtors and Financial Advisors as well as mortgage-related content.

Until now, there have been no easy options to shop, evaluate and select a lender, loan officer or loan program. If you recently obtained a mortgage for a home purchase or for a home refinance, chances are you used at least one online loan search engine, a spreadsheet, several emails chains, many phone calls, a few text messages and lots of time…LOTS of time. If you made the mistake of giving up your phone number and email address during your online mortgage shopping, you may still be getting calls from mortgage lenders – months after you closed your loan!

It is also likely that you felt a bit unsettled during the process of shopping and comparing mortgage loans. Who could blame you? A mortgage is a big deal and with the confusing terms, jargon filled disclosures and range of products and options, it can be nearly impossible to ever feel confident in a decision.  There seems to always be a “but what if I were to…” scenario, and let’s face it: you don’t know what you don’t know.

This experience and these feelings are not unique to your last mortgage transaction.  This pain is felt by thousands of people on a daily basis – and it is what we solved for when we designed and built MortgageCS, the Mortgage Concierge Service.

We have lots more to share, so be sure to stay in touch with us right here on MortgageCS and through Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. Our founding team has been in the mortgage business since early 2002, and involved with consumer focused technology platforms since 2000. This expertise, when combined with our recent findings and listening to our users, will be leveraged to continually improve the MortgageCS platform.  We are glad you are here – reach out at anytime, we’d love to hear from you.