It’s no secret a majority of prospective homebuyers use the internet to search for a home. What may surprise some, however, is how many mortgage customers now submit their application digitally.

According to a 2017 J.D. Power study, both purchase and refinance customers cite online/website as the most frequent method of submitting a mortgage application. The 43 percent who did so in 2017 represented a jump from just 28 percent in 2016.

Those numbers – representing consumer preferences for how they want to do business – are part of the reason community banks have begun empowering their customers with online and mobile mortgage application tools. These tools allow consumers to have more control of how, when and where they apply for a mortgage.

At Arvest Bank, for example, a recently updated online mortgage platform and a newly launched mobile app give mortgage customers the ability to act quickly in a real estate market marked by low inventory and heightened competition among buyers.

“Today’s consumer prefers a streamlined process, so we’re delivering those efficiencies in the area of mortgage loan applications,” said Steven Plaisance, president and CEO of Arvest’s mortgage division. “Through the Arvest Home4Me mobile app, loan applicants can submit the necessary documents for prequalification in the first few screens of the app. The app populates the data into the system for a loan officer to review, then we contact the applicant and complete the request.”

Similarly, Arvest utilizes an online mortgage platform developed by Ellie Mae that allows borrowers to research rates and types of loans, and to submit an application electronically.

“Leveraging technology is no longer an option for local banks,” Plaisance said. “It’s a must.”

Despite the mortgage customers’ increased preference for a digital experience, though, community banks still offer the kind of personalized service customers crave. That sentiment is reflected in the J.D. Power study, as it indicated satisfaction among customers applying online/via website declined by 18 points year-over-year.

“It’s important that these self-serve conveniences are available for those who want that option,” Carla Green, Springfield Mortgage Manager said. “At the same time, though, some customers may still want to tap into the expertise our local mortgage experts can offer. What we’ve really tried to do is create a hybrid approach that allows the consumer to choose what works best for their unique situation.”

About Arvest

Arvest Bank, named by Forbes magazine as one of “America’s Best Large Employers” for 2018, operates more than 270 bank branches in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas through a group of 14 locally managed banks, each with its own board and management team. These banks serve customers in more than 135 communities, with extended weekday banking hours at many locations. Arvest also provides a wide range of banking services including loans, deposits, treasury management, credit cards, mortgage loans and mortgage servicing. Arvest is an Equal Housing Lender and Member FDIC.

About Arvest Wealth Management

Arvest Wealth Management offers wealth management, trust services and insurance products. Investments and Insurance Products: Not FDIC Insured, May Lose Value and Not Guaranteed by the Bank. Trust services provided by Arvest Bank.