Borrowers want a more digital mortgage experience, but still prefer to close in-person

By Housing News

HousingWire sat down with Loren Cooke, president of Solidifi, to discuss the results of Solidifi’s Consumer Title Survey.

HousingWire: Why did Solidifi choose to commission this survey on the closing process?

Loren Cooke: There’s so much rhetoric and misnomers out there about what the consumer actually wants during the closing process that we wanted to go directly to the consumers themselves and ask them how their own closing process went. So we reached out to a sample of 1,000 consumers who have either recently purchased or refinanced a home in the past 24 months and we asked a very simple question – How was your closing process? Tell us all about it.

HW: In the survey Solidifi conducted, 81% of consumers reported they would still do a mortgage closing in-person versus digitally, but 70% of consumers also said they would like a more digital process when closing. That may seem contradictory to some – what do you think explains this?

LC: Indeed, we found that the majority of consumers wanted a more digital experience, which did not surprise us too much. And that was consistent whether it was a purchase or a refinance – it made no difference. What that means is that they did not want us to come to them with a stack of papers to sign. They wanted something a little more digital, maybe an iPad, a laptop, a computer – whatever it may be – for them to be able to walk through the actual documents either ahead of time or with their notary. Yet it was still important for the majority of respondents to still have a professional walk them through the process.

HW: What was the most surprising result of the survey?

LC: What was surprising to us and we think will be surprising to the industry – an industry that is digitizing this process to save costs – is that while 70% of respondents wanted a more digital experience, fully 81% still wanted an in-person closing. Consumers wanted a knowledgeable professional to be there, to allay their concerns, answer their questions and ensure all important details required for the closing were being handled appropriately. This is corroborated by another question in our survey where we asked how the closing process made borrowers feel – 47% said they were anxious about it while 43% said it made them nervous. So it makes sense that fully 81% said they would rather do a closing in person.

HW: What were the largest pain points borrowers reported in the home buying and refinancing process?

LC: Nearly a quarter of respondents experienced delays during the closing process, and half of those were due to problems with the paperwork or the filing. Also, as I just mentioned respondents feel anxious about the process. The closing of a mortgage is usually the last human touchpoint of the loan trajectory. It’s the interaction that leaves a lasting impression and Solidifi is focused on providing the highest standards in closing and settlement services, to enable our lender clients to deliver a seamless and professional experience to their customers.

HW: How does Solidifi improve the borrower experience with both digital processes and human touchpoints?

LC: Our proprietary network management platform leverages advanced technology to objectively score and recommend notaries based on factors such as knowledge, preparedness, efficiency and experience. Our unique approach has generated significant success. Today, we are the largest provider of residential real estate appraisals, and a top-five provider of title and closing services, to more than 60 of the top 100 lenders in America. Lenders have given us an outsized share of their business because they trust that the notaries we employ will be good stewards of their reputation.

HW: Of the consumers surveyed, 40.1% said they wanted to work with someone efficient. How does Solidifi help lenders provide borrowers with an efficient closing experience?

LC: We consistently deliver higher performance for our lender clients through our network management platform, which delivers real-time scorecards with performance and quality metrics driving transparency and accountability and performance-based volume allocation, among other features. Our unique engagement model also enables us to assign the most efficient notary, ensuring a superior closing experience. We also have geographically dedicated region managers who support our notaries across the nation to ensure the most efficient delivery.

HW: What solutions does Solidifi provide to help lenders deliver a great closing experience for every borrower?

LC: Lender clients can trust that Solidifi will send a professional notary to assist their customers through the closing process, and that these professionals can handle the exceptions and modifications that sometimes become necessary, making it seamless for their customers. And that is important. In fact, our survey showed that the vast majority of respondents indicated that they would choose to work with their lender again when they had a positive closing experience showing a correlation between borrower satisfaction and their choice of lender.


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