In this internet era, many of us spend hours online. Three in five Brits use a social networking site to keep in touch with friends and family. 14% of Brits signed an online petition in 2011. And a Which? survey in late 2011 found that 89% of us had bought something online in the last two years.
But would you apply for a mortgage online? New research has found that the complexity of lenders' websites is putting potential customers off applying for a home loan. Experts have urged lenders to make the application process easier and suggest that it may pay to speak to a qualified professional rather than ‘go it alone' online.
The new report by Global Reviews into the online customer experience provided by the major UK mortgage providers measured seven stages of customers' online journey - from the first encounter with the site, to researching mortgage products, completing the application form and ‘next steps'.
The results of the survey make disappointing reading. FT Advisor reports that "the 10 UK mortgage providers evaluated averaged just 49%, with 100% being the best service". The report found that Nationwide offered the best online customer experience, at 56%, followed by HSBC and Barclays, both at 54%. Santander received the poorest review, scoring an average of 40%.
However, the experience was so poor overall that just 12% of people would recommend a particular mortgage lender's site and 57% of people would actually actively discourage others from visiting.
Rebecca Jennings, principal consultant at Global Reviews, said: "Mortgage applicants are being let down by the industry and they either need better professional advice, better service from the providers, or a combination of both. Mortgage lenders are especially careless at the final stage, often failing to provide straightforward information such as how long a decision will take or how they'll be in touch. This support is particularly vital for the biggest purchase a consumer will ever make in their lives. Its absence erodes confidence in the lender right from the official beginning of the relationship."
Keith Osborne from whathouse.co.uk says: "This report makes pretty disappointing reading for UK lenders. It means that consumers have little faith in applying for their mortgage online, potentially putting off people who would otherwise by a home. Until such a time as lenders improve their online facilities, it may pay for you to speak to a professional mortgage broker instead. As well as giving you the right advice, a broker will also look after all aspects of your application, removing the headache of ploughing through a long and complicated online application form."
The Association of Mortgage Intermediaries director Robert Sinclair agrees. He said: "I never cease to be amazed why more customers don't end up with intermediaries given the reputation of the banks and the quality of some of their offerings."