Slightly less than a third of mortgage shoppers used a broker to help them find their current mortgage, but those customers who do tended to be very satisfied with their lending experience, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2005 Home Mortgage Study.

Among consumers who responded to the survey, 29 percent said they contacted a mortgage broker. They tended to be substantially more satisfied with the broker personnel compared with those who worked directly with the lender’s personnel.

“Brokers appear to perform significantly better in meeting customer expectations,” said Jeremy Bowler, director of the finance and insurance practice at J.D. Power and Associates. “Brokers are perhaps more dependent on customer referrals than the direct lenders. As a result, brokers may be more in tune with the cause and effect of customer satisfaction and advocacy.”

However, those customers who contacted a broker while shopping but then applied directly to an originating lender appeared to be the most satisfied with the mortgage origination experience.

“While this is the case for only 5 percent of all mortgage customers, those direct-to-lender customers who comparison shopped with at least one broker rate both the lender personnel and the loan application an approval process higher than do customers who never contacted a broker in their shopping process,” Bowler said.

The study’s customer satisfaction index is based on four factors of the mortgage lending process. Day-to-day administration of the account is the most important factor, accounting for 32 percent of overall mortgage service satisfaction. Billing and payment experiences are nearly as important at 30 percent, followed by the loan origination process (21 percent) and the customer-initiated contact experience (16 percent).

The study found that timely resolution of a problem has the greatest impact on customer contact satisfaction. The longer it takes to resolve a problem, the lower the customer’s satisfaction is with the contact experience. About half of all problems are solved within three days, but customer satisfaction declines dramatically when a problem takes more than a week to resolve.

Among consumers who rated their lender a nine overall on a 10-point scale, only two in five indicated they would definitely recommend their lender to others.

The 2005 Home Mortgage Study is based on responses from more than 11,000 home mortgage customers.

J.D. Power and Associates is headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif. and conducts market research, forecasting, consulting and training.

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