Customers are not happy with their mortgage lenders.
This year, customer satisfaction with primary mortgage originators has dropped five points on a 1,000-point scale, according to the new J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Primary Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Study. The drop was driven largely by dwindling satisfaction with the refinancing process.
Despite a recent increase, mortgage rates are near historic lows. Currently, 13.1 million qualified borrowers could reduce their interest rate by at least 0.75 percentage points by refinancing, according to Black Knight, a mortgage technology and data provider.
But lenders have had trouble dealing with the surging refinance demand, and their efforts to streamline the process with digital tools that lack personal customization has chipped away at customer satisfaction, according to J.D. Power's study.
"Our data shows that consumers have diversified wants and needs when it comes to a satisfying loan experience, and that can rub against many one-size-fits-all approaches to applying for and originating a mortgage," Jim Houston, managing director of consumer lending and automotive finance intelligence at J.D. Power, told Money in a written statement. (Originating a mortgage refers to the process of a borrower getting a loan from a lender.)
Electronic applications and online tools to streamline the process for customers just aren't cutting it anymore. Customers expect highly customizable experiences with a mix of technology and personal interactions based on their needs and preferences, according to Houston.
Offering multiple channels for communication is especially important for retaining younger customers. More than three-fourths of Gen Z and millennial customers who use both live personal service and digital self-service channels throughout the application and approval process say they'll definitely consider their lender for their next refinance. But when only one of the two channels is used, that rate falls by more than 10 percentage points, the study found. And overall, nearly one-third of mortgage customers say they use live personal service, digital self-service and mail, email or texting to communicate with their lender.
The J.D. Power report found that Guild Mortgage ranks highest among lenders for mortgage origination customer satisfaction, replacing Rocket Mortgage for the top spot. Rocket Mortgage and Citi rank second and third, respectively.
Money compiled a list of best mortgage lenders, including the best for first-time homebuyers and most customizable loans, as well as a list for best mortgage refinance companies, including the best for online mortgage refinancing and the best for borrowers with poor credit.