Pros and Cons of Applying for a Mortgage Online


Last Updated: March 22nd, 2021

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Owning a home is a central part of the American — and so are mortgages. According to Zillow, the average home in the United States is listed at $250,000. There aren't many house shoppers who have that kind of cash to purchase a home outright. Home loans help millions of people realize their dreams of homeownership. While mortgages have been around for decades, the way borrowers apply for these loans have changed in recent years.

Banks have long been the go-to choice for obtaining mortgages. However, the loan industry has changed dramatically since the late-1990s dot-com boom. Online lenders have emerged as an alternative for securing home loans. Applying for mortgages online has grown in popularity, especially among millennials.

There's no arguing that online mortgage companies make the loan process much easier. Nevertheless, the question remains whether applying online is the best option for every applicant. The fact is that online mortgages have advantages and disadvantages. Is it right for you? The answer often depends on your personal preference and financial profile.

Pros of applying for an online mortgage

Our consumer-based society prefers getting goods and services as quickly as possible. Web-based mortgage firms satisfy this demand within the marketplace. They offer the speed and convenience that's often lacking among traditional lending institutions. Here’s a deeper look into the advantages of applying for a mortgage online:

  • Lower rates and fees: Interested in saving hundreds or thousands of dollars over the course of your loan? If so, consider internet-based lenders. These providers have lower overhead than physical banking institutions. Because of this, they have lower interest rates, fees, and closing costs. This allows customers to keep more of their hard-earned money.

  • Fast application process: Applying for mortgages with a brick-and-mortar banking institution can take several days or weeks. This is not the case with online lenders, such as Quicken Loans, which uses digital tools to expedite the application process.

For example, you can photograph and submit your W-2s, application, driver's license and other documentation via your smartphone. In the case of Quicken Loan's Rocket Mortgage, the loan application may be completed in as little as eight minutes. If you prefer an internet-based approach that streamlines the application process, then online lenders are a solid choice.

  • More options: Conventional lenders might not offer government-backed loans, and conventional loans often require a higher credit score and more money down. Online mortgage lenders may offer more types of loans, and you don't need the best credit score to get approved. However, applicants with lower credit scores often pay higher interest rates and penalties.

Cons of online mortgage applications

Online mortgage lending comes with its share of shortcomings and risks. The more you know upfront, the better chance you have of determining whether going digital with a mortgage loan is best for you. As a potential borrower, there are things you must be aware of before starting the application process:

  • Limited customer service: Banks, credit unions, and other traditional lenders allow borrowers to meet with loan officers face to face or talk with them on the phone. Although online lenders have a few loan officers on staff, they might not be as accessible.

  • Lack of specialists: Online lenders are national companies and might not have specialists on staff who have in-depth knowledge of local housing markets. The problem with this is that you may miss out on several homebuyer incentives that are available in your local community.

For instance, there are programs that can help homebuyers lower their closing costs and interest rates. 

  • Mortgage scams: The universal warning for consumers is "if it's too good to be true, it probably is." These are wise words to remember when considering applying for a mortgage online. Since the growth of online lending, predatory lenders have been on the rise as well. These companies may "offer" loans that seem too good to be true, such as touting unbelievably low interest rates. But really, they’re trying to collect your “prepayment” or pushing you to get a new mortgage or refinance so they can collect fees. 

    Do your due diligence and research lenders. Conduct an internet search and/or check to see if the lender is listed with the Better Business Bureau. Taking these kinds of steps can prevent you from being a victim of predatory lenders and even identity theft.

When applying for a mortgage online isn’t a good option

There are borrowers who aren't well-suited for online mortgage lending. It's usually better that they work with mortgage brokers, banks or homebuilder lenders. These applicants include the following:

  • Self-employed applicants who may have a more complex financial situation and won’t benefit from a streamlined service
  • Customers who have multiple accounts with one bank and seek an adjustable-rate mortgage
  • A borrower who desires an easy loan even if it costs more

When applying for a mortgage online is a good option

Online mortgages are an optimal choice for specific borrowers. If you fall into any of the categories below, you may find that applying online for a home loan is more suitable than working with a traditional lender. An online lender is recommended for borrowers who meet any of the following criteria:

  • Repeat home shopper
  • Rate-and-term refinance customer
  • Easy access to financial documents
  • Long-term employment with one company
  • Excellent credit
  • Financially savvy

Online mortgage lenders have an upside and a downside. Take inventory of your financial needs and comfort level before submitting a loan application. One thing that is for sure is your credit score plays a vital role in your ability to secure a loan with favorable terms.

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