While prospective borrowers prefer the Internet as a guidance tool in starting the mortgage loan process, new research shows many mortgage lenders' Web sites don't make it easy for consumers to learn about the various loan programs they offer.
More consumers than ever are returning to lenders' sites for help with understanding the mortgage process, terminology, product types and rates, according to Change Sciences Group Inc.
But a previous analysis by the group found that half of the sites it had reviewed made it difficult to navigate to the mortgage section -- and that issue still persists today, according to the fourth quarter update of Change Science's report, Online Mortgage Customer Acquisition, announced Wednesday.
Apart from the navigational improvement, Change Sciences found that 80% of the sites can make it easier to learn about loan types offered.
National City was found to be the top performer in making it easy for consumers to learn about mortgages, Change Sciences reported. The Ohio-based lender was followed by Wells Fargo, IndyMac Bank, JP, Morgan Chase, CitiMortgage and ABN AMRO Mortgage. The lower half consisted of Wachovia in seventh place, Bank of America, E*Trade Financial, Washington Mutual, SunTrust Mortgage and in the last spot was U.S. Bank.
The analysis also showed that two-thirds of mortgage banker's sites make it difficult to learn about the various reasons to refinance.
Change Sciences said it also found that two-thirds of the sites can make it easier to get a rate quote online and that the same amount can make it easier to apply using different application methods.
"Getting a mortgage is one of the biggest financial transactions a person may ever make," said Change Sciences partner Steve Ellis in the announcement. "Rather than using the Internet to provide another application method, the sites reviewed should focus more on making the customer comfortable with his decision to apply by offering insightful information."