About half of consumers who took out a mortgage to buy a home in 2013 didn’t shop around for their loans, and even fewer consumers apply for a mortgage through more than one lender, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced in a report released Tuesday. That means these homebuyers aren’t comparing lenders’ offers in search of the best fit for their finances.
The CFPB analyzed the National Survey of Mortgage Borrowers, which includes responses from more than 5,000 people who took out mortgages in 2013, which gives insight into borrowers’ knowledge about the mortgage process and their experiences with it. A bit more than half (51%) of those surveyed said they were “very familiar” with mortgages, and those people were more likely to shop around for the best offers. On the flip side, 14% said they were “not at all familiar,” but not matter how familiar they were with the process, borrowers got the vast majority of their information about home loans from their lender — hardly an impartial resource.
The survey suggests American homeowners aren’t making the most of the options available to them, considering 77% applied with only one lender, who was also their main source of information about this major financial and personal milestone. People said they also frequently consulted real estate agents (33% of respondents) and online information (20%), but that pales in comparison to the 70% of people who used their lenders and brokers as their primary resources.
It’s not that lenders are a bad source of information, but there are plenty of other resources borrowers can use to navigate the mortgage process that have no financial stake in the outcome of their decisions. By failing to shop around and apply with multiple lenders, borrowers have little way of knowing if they’re getting the best loan and mortgage rate they can. In fact, 70% of the surveyed borrowers chose a lender before choosing the type of loan they wanted.
Of course you want to feel comfortable with the institution and person who will be handling one of if not the most important financial moves you’ll make, but there’s so much more to getting a mortgage than that. It takes some patience and legwork, but you’ll learn a lot about your options when shopping around for a home loan. Rates may vary widely from lender to lender, and on top of that, you should bring as much knowledge to the negotiating table as possible.
First, you’ll want to be familiar with your credit standing, because it has a huge impact in your loan qualifications, as well as how much of a down payment you can make and how much house you can afford. The CFPB also announced a new tool to help you do a little mortgage research, called the Rate Tracker, which uses real lender mortgage rate data to help you get an idea of what to look for in a mortgage and how to make it as affordable as possible. You’ll need to know your credit score to best use this tool, and you can get two free credit scores every month on Credit.com.
More on Mortgages & Homebuying:
- Why You Should Check Your Credit Before Buying a Home
- How to Find & Choose a Mortgage Lender
- How to Get a Loan Fully Approved