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'Alexa, find me a mortgage' — it's not as silly as it sounds


Boundaries between industries are blurring and technology companies should be increasingly considered competitors in the real estate lending landscape, according to the newest findings detailed in PriceWaterhouseCoopers’ 2019 Home Lending Experience Radar study.

VoiceAssistantThe report, released this month by the London-based consulting company, revealed that nearly half (42 percent) of survey respondents were “potential supporters of seeing tech firms join the fray” as mortgage providers. Online shopping, rideshare services and peer-to-peer payments have helped consumers get used to streamlined, fully digital marketplaces. And, with a growing gap between what they experience during the mortgage-application process versus buying other goods and services, they’ve started “demanding an integrated home ownership experience," the study said.

The home-shopping process has already shifted online. Recent potential buyers told PriceWaterhouseCoopers that they favored online searches — with 61 percent using third-party real estate sites and 60 percent using real estate broker sites, while only 44 percent personally contacted a real estate agent for recommendations. Hypothetically, shifts within these shares could reshape the funnel for lenders, as Realtor recommendations are often a key reason for a buyer to select a particular mortgage provider.

Young borrowers, in particular, are very receptive to emerging tech trends, the report said. Fifty-nine percent of buyers ages 18-34 would be likely to use a voice assistant (like Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri) to complete the preapproval process for a mortgage, while 51 percent of the same demographic would be likely to use a voice assistant to complete their loan application. Their slightly older counterparts aren’t far behind — among buyers ages 35-54, 45 percent and 40 percent of respondents said they would be likely to use a voice assistant to complete a preapproval and loan application, respectively.

“[B]ecause the technology has only been around for a few years, we were surprised at how willing the respondents to our 2019 Home Lending Experience Radar survey were to use a voice assistant as part of the mortgage process,” the report said. Although tech companies threaten the long-held status quo of traditional mortgage companies, the report also detailed that these companies still retain certain built-in advantages.

For one, consumers still tend to prefer traditional communication channels, such as phone conversations or in-person support, later in the loan process. Fifty-four percent of survey respondents, for example, either signed documents in person or would want to do so. Only 13 percent, on the other hand, used a mobile app or would want to use a mobile app when it comes to actually signing mortgage documents.

And homebuyers still value input from lenders early in the process. Fifty-eight percent of survey respondents seek advice from lenders as the first step of planning and budgeting for a home — a great opportunity for a lender or originator to build relationships during the entire homebuying experience.


 

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