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Best HELOC Servicers

SunTrust tops ranking from J.D. Power

October 10, 2007

By MortgageDaily.com staff

A new study of home equity line-of-credit servicers found SunTrust ranked highest among borrowers.

SunTrust had the highest score -- 770 -- on the J.D. Power and Associates 2007 Home Equity Line of Credit/Loan Servicer Study announced today. The score, with a possible high of 1,000, was based on product features and functionality, billing and payment, funds access and contact.

J.D. Power, a global marketing information services firm, said it based the inaugural study on the responses of nearly 5,000 borrowers who closed on a HELOC between October 2006 and June 2007.

SunTrust ranked particularly high in product features and functionality, the announcement said. The Atlanta-based company ranked No. 2 on another J.D. Power study announced in July that analyzed home equity lenders. That ranking was topped by Wachovia Bank. And in August, SunTrust took the fifth spot in a J.D. Power ranking of the best servicers.

Bank of America ranked No. 2 in the HELOC servicer study, J.D. Power reported, followed by Wachovia, Washington Mutual and Citizens Bank.

"Highly committed home equity borrowers are four times more likely to continue to do business with and recommend their lender to friends and family than customers with moderate levels of commitment," J.D. Power explained.

Borrowers surveyed in this latest study reportedly expressed less satisfaction with HELOC servicers than other financial providers -- including HELOC originators. The lower level of satisfaction was attributed to the complicated nature of the product.

"Customers can make multiple draws on their home equity line accounts, apply for increases to their credit limit, and have a wide array of lock features and access methods -- all of which can be confusing," the report said. "However, lenders can demystify this by providing ongoing communications to their customers and by emphasizing the convenience that a home equity line-of-credit provides."

Borrowers who utilized between 25 percent and 75 percent of their lines expressed the most satisfaction while those who had accessed more than 75 percent were least satisfied, J.D. Power said. Those who accessed less than 25 percent of the line were more likely to use it for emergency funds and for education expenses.

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