The Internet has changed all aspects of the home buying process, including the way we shop for mortgages and choose lenders.
In the early days of online mortgage lenders, there were few choices and plenty of shady practitioners. But today you have many more options, and government regulation has helped limit the number of "predatory" lenders using the Internet.
Still, it pays to be informed and to do plenty of research. Here then are some of the pros and cons of online mortgage shopping.
Online Mortgage Shopping – Advantages
Shopping for a home mortgage online lets you compare many loans at once. Before the Internet, the only way to do this was to make a lot of phone calls and office visits!
Another advantage is that you can do your research and make inquiries anytime day or night. So if you work full time, you can do your mortgage homework in the evening (when an actual mortgage office would be closed).
Online Mortgage Shopping – Disadvantages
Because of the anonymous nature of the Internet, you have to be careful when shopping for a mortgage online. Of course, this is true of any Internet site -- dating sites, auction sites, commerce sites, you name it.
Some mortgage "companies" use the Internet to prey on naive victims. So always do plenty of research, and ask plenty of questions. Stick to the mortgage companies you know and trust. Be wary of the lesser known "mom and pop" companies.
Another disadvantage to shopping for a mortgage online is that the quote you get may not be as accurate as what you'd get in person. There are a lot of variables in the mortgage process (credit history, debt to earning ratio, etc.), and a website can't consider them all. Nor can it answer your specific questions or give you advice.
That's not to say online mortgage companies can't answer questions and handle unique circumstances -- they just can't do it through their websites. Eventually, you'll have to speak to a representative.
Shopping for a mortgage online can be a convenient time-saver. But you have to weigh both sides of the issue to see if it's right for you. Do your homework and ask plenty of questions. Be careful transmitting financial information over the Internet. Stick to the companies and names you trust. In short, look out for yourself.
* Copyright 2006, Brandon Cornett.