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Homebuyers want technology with personal guidance

In the digital age, the way people find the home they want to buy is changing. Instead of driving around in search of “For Sale” signs in front yards, more and more consumers are picking up gadgets to start their search. According to research by Zillow, 87 percent of homebuyers use online resources to search for a home, with two-thirds of millennials searching on mobile devices.

The digital shift applies to how buyers explore financing after they’ve found their dream home, too. More than half of homebuyers who seek preapproval for a mortgage do so online, according to findings from mortgage software provider Ellie Mae.

With these trends, it may be surprising that when it comes to understanding and navigating the mortgage process, most people actually want to work with a real live person.

Wells Fargo’s most recent “How America Views Homeownership” survey asked consumers what they would do if they needed help figuring out how to obtain a mortgage. The most preferred method by far is to meet with someone in person (52 percent). “Finding information online” trails behind at only 19 percent.

And when it’s time to dive into the mortgage process, most people want a combination of online convenience and human guidance. While more than three-quarters of survey respondents agree that completing the mortgage process online would be convenient, 81 percent say they prefer to have a personal connection with their lender, knowing that someone is there to answer questions and walk them through things.

So while today’s homebuyers appreciate the convenience of digital tools, ultimately, they want trusted guidance from a professional. They are asking lenders for the best of both worlds.

We strive to answer that demand by combining online tools with personal support. For example, our yourLoanTracker lets eligible customers track the status of their home loan application and exchange information electronically, all while working closely with a home mortgage consultant. On a computer or mobile device, a customer can track completed tasks and see a “to do” list of their next steps; securely upload files or photos of financial documents; view disclosures and approve documents digitally; and get email or text-message alerts with progress updates. Today’s customers expect a more transparent, faster process, and digital tools make it possible.

According to consumers’ feedback, technology shouldn’t replace human guidance — it should enhance it. By combining digital convenience with personal service, lenders are helping consumers take care of their home financing needs when, where and how they want to.

Darius Toston is the diverse segments consultant for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage in Southern Nevada.

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