• As technology evolves, it continues to drive changes across the real estate industry, from how consumers search for homes to how they secure a mortgage.
  • Tools that offer the ease and simplicity doing things from the comfort of your own computer, tablet or smartphone can be appealing to borrowers.
  • When you're making a lender referral, consider whether the company offers mortgage calculators, a pre-qualification app, digital mortgage applications, online payment services and educational tools.

Today’s homebuyers are more technologically literate than ever, and their desire for digital resources often extends beyond property browsing.

And although real estate agents may refer clients to a handful of trusted partners, lenders in particular can vary widely on what they offer to homebuyers — not just in mortgages, but also in modern convenience.

Tools that offer the ease and simplicity doing things from the comfort of your own computer, tablet or smartphone can be appealing for buyers who start their home search on the web (44 percent, according to the National Association of Realtors).

By understanding the breadth of lending tools offered today that help borrowers learn the details of their mortgage responsibility, agents can help to meet consumer demand, especially that of first-time buyers.

Keep an eye out for these five borrower tech tools to make the best lender referral possible.

1. Mortgage calculators

These tools allow consumers to calculate potential monthly payments for a variety of scenarios.

Users can input the the mortgage amount, terms of the loan, interest rate, property taxes and more to determine what their monthly responsibility would be for different homes, loan amounts and other variables.

This can be a valuable tool as clients consider various properties and neighborhoods.

2. Pre-qualification app

These apps are extremely popular and useful as potential homebuyers begin their search, as they can give consumers an instant response based on loan products specifically geared to the consumer and their financial situation.

Any pre-qualification should reflect mortgage rates and estimated payments, as well as provide electronic delivery of pre-qualification letters.

3. Digital mortgage applications

Consumers’ ability to apply for a mortgage online is critical. Online applications can save the consumer time, as well as simplify the overall process.

This can be especially helpful for homebuyers in more isolated areas, where traveling to a lender’s physical office would be time-consuming.

4. Online payment services

Many consumers are used to paying their bills quickly and easily online. They expect their lender to offer the same services that their credit card companies, insurance firms, utilities and others provide.

5. Educational tools

Potential homebuyers may not know that they should seek out a lender with online educational tools, but experienced real estate professionals know that the homebuying process is complex.

Many consumers don’t actually understand all that goes into buying a home or the mortgage process in particular.

Technology’s limits

Of course, all the technology in the world cannot replace the value of experienced and knowledgeable mortgage lenders and originators.

When making referrals, agents should know that their lender partners not only offer the latest technological tools, but also provide superior customer service and support.

Although online tools can be a great boon to homebuyers, there will still be times when they need to talk to a person who can help them. Whether to answer questions or clarify issues, agents should ensure their referral partners are also responsive and can connect consumers directly with an originator or other mortgage professional.

As technology evolves, it continues to drive changes across the real estate industry, from how consumers search for homes to how they secure a mortgage.

By meeting clients’ tech needs all the way from the home-search process to making their first mortgage payment, real estate agents can make sure consumers are happy and satisfied — and eager to make referrals of their own.

Ray Brousseau serves as president for Carrington Mortgage Services. Please follow Carrington on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Email Ray Brousseau.

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