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Best HEL Lenders

Wachovia ranks highest in J.D. Power study

July 18, 2007

By MortgageDaily.com staff

Wachovia Bank is the top ranked home equity lender, according to a study released today which also indicated overall satisfaction has increased considerably across the industry.

J.D. Power and Associates announced the findings of its 2007 Home Equity Line/Loan Origination Study today. The study, in its second year, measured borrower satisfaction with their lenders.

J.D. Power said it surveyed 3,871 borrowers during April and May who obtained a home equity loan or a home equity line-of-credit between July 2006 and April 2007. The lenders were rated based on the closing process, the originator and the application and approval process.

Wachovia, which also ranked highest last year, was at the top of the list again this year with a score of 831 on a 1,000-point scale, the marketing information firm reported. The Charlotte, N.C.-based company ranked high in all three categories and boosted its score by 63 points over 2006.

Wachovia has "made notable strides in shortening application processing and funding times," according to the announcement. "Additionally, Wachovia has a considerable percentage of highly committed customers -- 32 percent compared to an industry average of 19 percent."

SunTrust Bank Inc. held the No. 2 spot with a score of 794, a 74 point improvement over last year, the report said.

Next was U.S. Bank, with a 787 score, the data indicated. The Bloomington, Minn.-based company was not included in last year's analysis.

Rounding out the top five were Bank of America, with a score of 782; JPMorgan Chase, with a 778 score; and GMAC Mortgage, with a 768 score, according to J.D. Power. Three Citigroup units as well as Capital One, HSBC Mortgage Corp. and two National City units did not even rank among the top 10.

A report last year from Change Sciences recognized Capital One as providing the best home-equity Web site, while it gave Quicken Loans and Wells Fargo the silver and bronze medals, respectively.

"Highly committed customers are four times more likely to stay with their current home-equity lender and three times more likely to recommend their lender to friends and family than customers with moderate and low levels of commitment," J.D. Power said. "Highly committed customers also possess nearly twice as many additional financial services."

Industrywide, the average score reportedly improved 41 points from last year to 766. The increase was driven by an average improvement of three days in approval time, to eight days, and a two-day average improvement in funding time to six days.

"This increase is driven by improvements in loan processing times, proactive communication with customers about the status of their loan applications and a lower incidence of borrowers paying closing costs," J.D. Power reported. "In addition, loan representatives performed better in explaining the steps of the loan origination process, including providing time frames for completion and informing customers of their credit scores."

About one-quarter of borrowers shopping for an HEL chose lenders with whom they already had a relationship, the study found.

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