The largest financial obligation most people ever take on couldn’t escape the reach of the Internet. Home mortgage loans originated online comprise an integral part of one of the largest and most profitable aspects of the banking industry. Unlike many shifts in big business recently, this change actually seems to greatly benefit consumers by increasing competition and placing more financial control in the hands of homeowners.
To finance or refinance a home in the olden days (before the Internet), you needed to find a mortgage lender, broker, or banker who wanted to make a loan for you. Though mortgage lenders always wanted to make good loans, the process of gathering information to compare interest rates, points, and loan programs among lenders presented a tedious task for borrowers. Without a centralized information source for mortgage rates, loan programs and financial advice, most people just called a few banks and went with the lender that seemed to offer the lowest rate for the least discount points.
Now borrowers can access up-to-the-minute financial information and economic indicators online. Comparing rates and fees between lenders takes only the click of a mouse. Loan programs and mortgage calculators quickly figure the best strategy for everything from which loan represents the lowest cost over time to how much money a borrower could save by prepaying their mortgage on a monthly or bi-weekly basis. Financial tools available online truly empower any borrower with Internet access.
Though the Internet represents a faster and more hassle-free way to refinance your first or second mortgage, remember these important facts:
Loan Programs – Just because the Internet makes the loan process easier doesn’t mean you should abandon common sense. Take the time to analyze which loan program best meets your needs based on the big picture of how long you’ll live in the house, the payment you can handle comfortably, and how much cash or equity the lender requires.
Fees – All lenders don’t charge equally. Many offer a lower interest rate, but make up the discount in fees and charges. Analyze costs between lenders by obtaining a list of all associated loan fees known as a “Good Faith Estimate”.
Service – Obtaining a loan online won’t do you a bit of good if you run into a problem and need to speak with a live human. Make sure your online lender maintains offline customer service.
Rate Lock-in – The lender’s website should clearly explain their interest rate lock-in period and policy. Don’t get lured in by a lender offering a lower rate and points only to find out the hard way that your interest rate lock expires before you can get the loan closed.
Loan Commitment – Find out from the lender’s site what legally binding documentation they provide to document the loan commitment once you get loan approval.
Though many borrowers use the Internet purely for research, record numbers now go online to apply and complete the entire mortgage process on the Web, while saving significant money and time in the process.