More Boomers are mortgage shopping online

Reverse mortgage lenders see opportunity to invest in digital resources

Like most consumers, Baby Boomers are increasingly turning to the web to do their shopping, and apparently, shopping for a mortgage – or reverse mortgage – is no different.

A survey released this week by Ellie Mae, which polled more than 500 mortgage borrowers from three different generations, revealed that nearly a quarter of Baby Boomers reached out to a lender online.

While the percentage was not quite as high as their Millennial and Generation X counterparts, the report noted that it was higher than in years past.

Ellie Mae’s survey sought to better understand how borrowers use technology in the mortgage process. Most of those surveyed recently obtained a purchase loan (53%), while others refinanced (44%) and the remaining (3%) took out a reverse mortgage.

Of all the borrows surveyed, 92% said they did online research prior to reaching out to lenders, and 71% said they worked with lenders that provided an online portal for document sharing.

The borrowers who were provided an online portal were twice as likely to say technology improved the loan process.

Joe Tyrrell, Ellie Mae’s executive vice president of corporate strategy, added further insight.

“Baby Boomers, like Millennials and Generation X borrowers, are looking for a digital mortgage experience. Our Connecting with Borrowers Online survey showed that for Boomers, online portals made the biggest difference in a positive view of technology, with 79% stating that technology improved the loan process versus 49% for Millennials.”

Tyrrell said additional data collected by Ellie Mae indicates that Boomers have a significant and growing online presence.

“Our Borrower Insights survey from March 2018 showed that there is still an opportunity to reach Boomers, with 55% stating that they applied for their most recent mortgage fully in-person (versus 30% of Millennials) and 30% stating that they had a mix of in-person and online experiences (versus 49% of Millennials),” Tyrrell said.

“The same survey also showed that for Boomers, many are looking for a simpler application, a faster process and more visibility into the process, highlighting the value of the digital mortgage to the Baby Boomer generation.”

Leading reverse mortgage lender Finance of America Reverse said it’s ramping up its digital offerings to accommodate borrowers who prefer an online experience.

“We know that consumers expect digital experiences in every other aspect of their lives, why should shopping for a reverse mortgage be different?” asked FAR President Kristen Sieffert.

“We’re seeing this desire for more digital experiences from our own customers and you’ll see us reflecting this approach in both our website and our sales process over the coming months.”

Sieffert said catering to reverse mortgage borrowers online is two-fold.

“When we think about what a digital experience should look like for our consumers, we want to make it easy for people who are ready to move forward with a reverse mortgage to get started immediately, while simultaneously providing an educational path for people who are not quite ready to transact,” she said.

According to Sieffert, providing online resources to streamline the reverse mortgage loan process could help reinforce the public's trust.

“For an industry plagued by persistent distrust, refining digital channels and allowing customers to begin transactions on their own terms are important steps toward promoting more openness and transparency.”


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