Consumers ranked Wachovia, SunTrust and Bank of America as the best mortgage loan originators in terms of customer satisfaction, with First Franklin, Washington Mutual and American Home Mortgage Co. among those scoring below the industry average.

That’s according to 4,378 consumers polled by J.D. Power and Associates for the firm’s 2007 Primary Mortgage Origination Study.

The study measured customer satisfaction with four aspects of mortgage origination — application approval; interaction with loan representatives; closing; and problem resolution.

Despite this year’s turmoil in the lending industry, the industry average score — 750 on a 1,000-point scale — was consistent with last year’s results, J.D. Power said in a press release.

The study found consumers were more satisfied and experienced fewer problems when they worked directly with a mortgage lender instead of a mortgage broker or online service.

Lenders scored points with consumers when they provided time frames for approvals and updates on the status of their loan. When applications were delayed because lenders requested more information from borrowers, overall customer satisfaction scores dropped an average of 95 points, the study found. Lenders asked for more information, such as bank statements, paycheck stubs, or tax forms on about one-third of applications.

Lenders also lost points when their initial estimates of monthly payments and closing costs didn’t pan out. About 17 percent of borrowers said their monthly payments turned out to be more than expected, which led to a 159-point drop in overall satisfaction. Roughly 12 percent of customers were surprised to have additional closing fees, which resulted in an average 220-point reduction in satisfaction scores.

J.D. Power released the following scores for lenders: Wachovia (827); SunTrust Mortgage (818); Bank of America (760); National City Mortgage (759); CitiMortgage (753); Chase (752); Wells Fargo (749); Countrywide Home Loans (745); GMAC Mortgage (744); ABN AMRO Mortgage (740); American Home Mortgage Corp. (736); Washington Mutual (733); and First Franklin (595).

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