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The online express

Technology is revolutionising the housebuying process all the way through the supply chain and plays a key role in everything from helping the customer find their perfect property right through to completions.

Many firms are keen to invest in these changes because the benefits to lenders, brokers and customers are massive, particularly in the specialist lending market.

At the start of the process, housebuyers no longer have to peer in estate agents’ windows or trawl the streets for properties. They can cut out the legwork by logging on to estate agency websites, saving effort and energy.

Once they have found their chosen home, the buyer’s most important decision is selecting the right mortgage. Technology can be used with growing numbers of buyers doing their initial research online, looking at various options and avenues of choice. The internet can help intermediaries capture customers via online promotional sites, such as Charcolonline.

Once their initial research is complete, many buyers will seek advice, meaning technology is complementing but not replacing the intermediary. With thousands of deals to sift through, expecting a customer to find the best deal is a tall order and it is this growing complexity that has seen the intermediary channel take responsibility for half of all new mortgages, with continued expansion.

It is at the third stage when the broker sits down with their client when technological developments come into their own. There are two clear paths – sourcing systems and lenders’ websites. Online sourcing systems help brokers find the right mortgage from the thousands of deals on the market and are well used throughout the industry but brokers must use these systems with caution, particularly when it comes to the key facts illustration.

When accepting a KFI from a sourcing system, there is a degree of risk as sourcing systems do not guarantee full accuracy and errors have been identified on numerous occasions. For the peace of mind of a fully compliant KFI, the best option is to go direct to a lender’s own site. With the levels of speed now offered by lenders’ websites, it is also easy to find the right product for each client.

Once the right mortgage has been identified, technology continues its assistance in speeding up and easing the application process.

Online applications smooth out many of the snags and delays in mortgage applications. Previously, two out of every three paper-based applications arrived with key data missing and ground to a halt while the details were chased. Now systems pick up any omissions immediately.

Online portals have recently started to take hold. They help intermediaries keep up to date with the latest market-leading deals, including desktop alert messengers which open pop-ups on the screen giving news and products developments.

New elements of the supply chain are constantly arriving. For example, brokers can now instruct and pay for a property valuation electronically by keying in the customer’s credit card details. They can then keep track the progress of the valuation and act quickly on any delays.

The online solutions offered throughout the industry will also now generally allow brokers to arrange conveyancing and legal work online. Brokers can instruct solicitors online and track them through the conveyancing process, slashing the time wasted. This online instruction and tracking process at this stage can also bring benefits for brokers. Clients are free to use their solicitor if they prefer but will generally find it faster and cheaper to go online. Growing numbers of remortgage clients save money by using their lender’s legal services and this may increase in the case for new mortgages.

Overall throughout the supply chain, the broker benefits with more control over the client’s application as they can track the case online and give the client progress reports, getting warnings on any glitches. This makes the path to completion much smoother for all parties.

The pace of technological change in the mortgage market has been astonishing but as an industry we still see leaders and laggards in this area. The most important aspect is that all businesses should realise the importance of technological developments as companies run the risk of being far behind.

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