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Stories about mortgage servicers, delinquency and f o r e c l o s u r e s. Coverage of servicing lawsuits and loan servicing technology.

BB&T is Best Servicer

Servicer study finds deterioration in borrower satisfaction across all lenders

Aug. 1, 2011

By staff

Branch Banking and Trust Co. has been ranked by borrowers as the best of the biggest mortgage servicers. But the bank and its peers have seen deterioration in customer satisfaction over the past year.

The Winston-Salem, N.C.-based company earned a customer satisfaction index rating score of 768 in the J.D. Power and Associates 2011 U.S. Primary Mortgage Servicer Satisfaction Study. It was the best score among all mortgage servicers.

The highest possible score is 1,000. Nearly 5,000 homeowners were surveyed for the report.

Among BB&T biggest strengths are its billing process, payment process and escrow account administration.

BB&T also ranked highest in the 2010 report, but its score has declined from 795 in the prior study.

In fact, overall borrower satisfaction for mortgage servicers as a group is down. The overall score declined to 718 from 747 last year.

The scores are based on each servicer's billing and payment process, escrow-account administration, Web site and phone contact. Deterioration was noted in each category this year.

"The study also finds that friendly service and reliability are the most important aspects of overall brand image for mortgage servicers," the report stated. "These key aspects are also the two measures that have declined most notably in 2011, compared with 2010."

Borrowers from vintages prior to 2009 were "significantly less satisfied" this year than last year. J.D. Power attributed the decline in satisfaction to the inability of pre-2010 borrowers to refinance as a result of inadequate equity or tougher requirements to qualify.

David Lo, director of financial services at J.D. Power, recommends that servicers focus on helping borrowers better understand how their escrow account is calculated. Other areas that yield big improvements in satisfaction include resolving recent customer contacts, making sure that borrowers have a problem-free experience and clearly communicating their servicing fee structure.

No. 2 in this year's ranking was Regions Mortgage, which had a score of 757.

Wells Fargo followed with 755 score, then SunTrust Mortgage's 747 and Fifth Third Mortgage's 746.

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