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Pros and Cons of Getting a Mortgage Online

Taking on a mortgage is a major financial responsibility. But oddly enough, nearly half of homebuyers don’t take the time to shop around for the right lender, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In addition to traditional banks and mortgage brokers, homebuyers have a third option in the form of online mortgage lenders. If you’re cautious about going online to track down a home loan, here’s a quick rundown of the advantages and disadvantages of getting a mortgage online.

Find out now: How much house can I afford?

The Pros

1. You may Get Lower Rates and Fees

Unlike a brick-and-mortar bank, online mortgage lenders often operate without having to cover a lot of overhead. As a result, they might be able to pass the savings to their customers in the form of lower interest rates or lower fees. If an online lender offers you a rate that’s even a quarter of a percent lower than what other lenders offer, that could potentially save you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.

2. Applying for a Loan May Be Less Time-Consuming

Pros and Cons of Getting a Mortgage Online

If you’ve never applied for a mortgage before, it goes something like this. The lender will hand you a stack of paperwork and a laundry list of documents that you’re required to make copies of. Getting everything in order can take days or even weeks if you’re chasing down bank statements or tax forms.

Online lenders can make the process less difficult to navigate. Instead of making copies of tax returns or other financial documents, you can just upload them to the lender’s website. That can speed up the loan process and save you some headaches.

3. It May Be Easier to Get Approved

Your credit score plays a big role in determining whether you can qualify for a mortgage. Conventional, FHA, VA and USDA loans all have minimum credit score guidelines for approval. But individual lenders can raise the bar to weed out borrowers who may be a credit risk. If your credit isn’t perfect, an online lender might be more willing to grant you a loan.

The Cons

1. Getting Help May Be Harder

If you’re applying for a mortgage through a local bank or a broker, you’ll probably be able to call them at any time within business hours to get answers to your questions. With an online lender, it might be more difficult to get someone on the phone when you need assistance.

2. Rates Aren’t Guaranteed

Pros and Cons of Getting a Mortgage Online

Jumping on board with an online mortgage lender because they’re promising you a super low rate can backfire if it turns out that you’re not eligible for a great deal. By that point, you could be several weeks into the process, so you might feel like it’s too late to back out. And as a result, you could end up paying more for a mortgage than you had originally planned.

Check out our mortgage calculator.

Do Your Homework

If you think an online mortgage lender is the way to go, it’s best to do some research before you apply. It’s a good idea to read reviews and find out whether there have been any complaints filed against the company, either with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or your state’s attorney general’s office. Then, you can carefully compare the loan terms they’re offering to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

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Photo credit: ©iStock.com/apomares, ©iStock.com/franckreporter, ©iStock.com/Tomwang112

Rebecca Lake Rebecca Lake is a retirement, investing and estate planning expert who has been writing about personal finance for a decade. Her expertise in the finance niche also extends to home buying, credit cards, banking and small business. She's worked directly with several major financial and insurance brands, including Citibank, Discover and AIG and her writing has appeared online at U.S. News and World Report, CreditCards.com and Investopedia. Rebecca is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and she also attended Charleston Southern University as a graduate student. Originally from central Virginia, she now lives on the North Carolina coast along with her two children.
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