After the housing boom of 2021, many people are wondering if there is a crash in front of us, especially with rising inflation. However, experts agree that it’s unlikely that the housing market will drastically change in respect to demand.
What is changing, however, is how people buy homes, including what kinds of mortgages they choose, who they work with and how they close. It’s important for real estate agents to be aware of trends in the mortgage industry and how it might affect homebuyer experiences and expectations.
Nonbank mortgage lenders like Guaranteed Rate are continuing to win new customers. As opposed to traditional big banks, these nonbank lenders can be easier to work with because they offer a faster path to mortgages, are open to more customers and are often more digitally savvy in how they work with customers.
They typically offer more online services, and as they are completely focused on mortgage lending, their websites and apps are more intuitive for homebuyers as opposed to big bank websites that have layers of other offerings.
Nonbanks are showing their expertise in meeting consumer expectations of speed, flexibility and digital customer experience, something real estate agents can facilitate by embracing processes that deliver the same level of service.
The pandemic accelerated the use of fully-digital closings (eClosings) when social distancing made it difficult to close in person. The silver lining is that eClosings have a lot of long-lasting benefits that go well beyond social distancing. Lenders and homebuyers alike are increasingly switching to eClosings for their convenience and efficiency. For real estate agents in particular, eClosings can allow for a quicker turnaround for closings, equating to a quicker turnaround for receiving commission.
Fully-digital closings can be facilitated by using an eClosing software like the NotarizeSM platform, which allows for all aspects of the mortgage closing, including notarizations, to occur completely online. That means signers can participate from anywhere with an internet connection. This saves real estate agents (and their clients) considerable time that would be spent at an in-person closing, provides a convenient signing experience and improves transaction quality.
With more homebuyers moving their buying process online, it’s important for all real estate professionals to offer excellent customer service, even if you’re not interacting face-to-face with a client.
For lenders and title agents, this means investing in tools that will give buyers a seamless digital experience — from loan pre-approval through the closing. JD Power rated Rocket Mortgage as having the highest customer satisfaction and notes that digital tools supported by live personal services is an especially important combination for younger customers. Making sure that the digital experience feels personal and is intuitive is now part of the customer service strategy for many online-focused lenders.
Real estate agents are dealing with a mix of homebuyers, which means quality customer service will look different depending on the situation. Some clients may live close by and can view all properties in person. However, agents need to be able to support customers who can’t (or prefer not to) travel to physically view properties. With video conferencing and virtual tours, agents can still offer great customer service even if they’re not physically with a client. It’s also helpful to have a lender and title agent you can partner with that will give your clients the option for eClosings.
Agents who are digitally-savvy and are focused on providing great service and flexibility (both online and in-person) will be in a good position to meet homebuyer expectations throughout the purchasing process.
This article originally appeared on Inman.com.