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Best Mortgage Lenders

Quicken ranks highest

Nov. 17, 2011

By SAM GARCIA Mortgage Daily

portrait of Sam Garcia

A survey of consumers who recently closed on a new mortgage finds that mortgage lenders are doing a better job of taking care of their customers. The report also identified which lenders ranked highest and had some advice for consumers who are thinking about getting a new loan.

Mortgage lenders have stepped up their service to prospective borrowers since last year, and these customers are more satisfied as a result.

That was according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2011 U.S. Primary Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Study.

The report was based on a survey of more than 3,600 borrowers who closed on a new mortgage.

Lenders were ranked on a scale of one to a thousand, and this year's average industry score was 747 -- a 13-point increase from 2010.

The top-ranked lender was Quicken Loans Inc. It was the second year in a row that the Detroit-based lender was No. 1.

J.D. Power attributed Quicken's success to it strong performance in the application-approval process and the closing process.

Behind Quicken was SunTrust Mortgage Inc. with a score of 791. SunTrust's loan representatives and closing factors ranked high.

No. 3 was ING Bank with a 789 score, then Branch Banking and Trust Co.'s 781 and JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s 760. U.S. Home Mortgage also came in with a 760 score.

At the bottom of the list, which included 16 lenders, was Bank of America Home Loans. The Calabasas, Calif.-based company had a score of 710.

David Lo, who is director of financial services at J.D. Power, had some advice for consumers who are thinking about applying for a new mortgage.

He said that consumers should make it clear to their lenders how they prefer to communicate. They should advise their representatives if they prefer to be contacted by e-mail.

The loan process takes longer than it did a few years ago, and prospective borrowers should be prepared for an average loan process of nearly two months. They should also find out up front how long they can expect their lender to take in the process.

Lo advises consumers to do their research and understand the different loan options. Finding the right loan involves more than locating the lowest interest rate.

He points out that the interest rate is different than the annual percentage rate. The interest rate is what is stated in the note, but the APR factors in other loan costs and reflects the effective rate that a borrower will pay.

Since some institutions might waive fees, prudent borrowers who do their homework can get a lower APR by identifying this possibility.

Lo suggests that consumers obtain a copy of the closing documents before they close on the loan and have their loan representatives thoroughly explain the documents.

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