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Patrick McCarthy

Online Mortgage Shopping Lacks Good Information to Consumers

Tuesday, February 8, 2011 - Article by: Patrick McCarthy - Stonegate Mortgage Corp. - Message

"CONSUMERS who have practically made a national sport out of hunting down the best price for everything from lipstick to laptops online, often fail to comparison-shop for mortgages, finding the Web sites unhelpful or difficult to navigate."

Some of the nation's leading mortgage sites have responded by working to become more consumer-friendly. Their revamped sites, they say, will let borrowers not only browse lender rates and terms, but learn about market trends and read comments from other shoppers.

While there is plenty of mortgage information out there, much of what has been available on the Web until recently is "broad but shallow."

"Consumers often can't get some of the more technically oriented stuff," he said, citing explanations of when an adjustable-rate mortgage actually adjusts, or prepayment penalties apply.

At, an online marketplace that connects borrowers to lenders, consumers can browse not just quotes from various lenders but also a burgeoning array of industry articles, research tools, calculators and consumer-generated ratings and reviews of lenders.

They've been doing a lot of development of information resources for consumers over the past year along with the company's growing list of how-to tips for first-time buyers and those wanting to refinance.

Even major banks are making changes.
The added educational resources and customer tools arrive amid indications that buyers aren't shopping around for loans nearly as much as they should.

A poll of more than 1,300 homeowners conducted by Harris Interactive, a market research firm, published in December, found that while 96 percent of Americans comparison-shopped for "anything," only 61 percent said they did so for mortgages. The remaining 39 percent took out home loans based on just one quote -- even though 9 in 10 of those buyers said they knew that rates varied among lenders.

Consumers, particularly first-time home buyers, simply "get freaked out" by the entire process. "There are so many choices, decisions, time pressures, things to sign," he said. Thomas Martin, president of America's Watchdog, a consumer advocacy group, agreed. "They are trying to educate the consumer," he said of the online companies, "and there's a lot of information out there, but a lot of times, it's overkill."

More Brick-and-Mortar mortgage companies and banks are increasing their online presence and have become "more uniformly educational" than in the past. Northpointe Bank services most of the country and has really put an emphasis on making the online shopping experience very easy and informative for its visitors.

I can be reached for comment at 866-901-3576 or

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