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It’s taking less time to get a mortgage

Ben Bradford Aug 29, 2019
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Tim Boyle/Getty Images

Purchasing a home takes a bit longer than clicking “buy” on a website, but the digitization of mortgages is helping to speed along homebuying.

Jayme Drozd and her husband put in an offer for their Dallas-area home this year after being captivated by the living room’s large windows. She already had her mortgage preapproved — she said it took just a few hours on a Saturday to have a contract.

“The preapproval for the mortgage happened so fast,” Drozd said. “By Sunday morning, they were like, ‘You’re under contract.’”

In total, Drozd said it took 30 days to close on the house. A survey this month from LendingTree found the average closing time has fallen by almost half in the past two years, taking 40 days in 2019, down from 74 days in 2017.

One reason, according to the study: Mortgage companies are relying more heavily on electronic signatures. Instead of requiring customers to come into a bank to sign paperwork, lenders and homebuyers can quickly send documents back and forth. Some banks allow customers to scan bank statements and tax returns using their phones.

Tendayi Kapfidze, the chief economist at LendingTree, said it took time for mortgages to join the internet age.

“A lot of these products were under development for probably six, seven, eight years. It’s just kind of the sweet spot now for everything coming together,” Kapfidze said.

But the current landscape of low interest rates could increase the time it takes to close a mortgage. Steve Patrick, the chief risk officer at Gateway Mortgage, said the number of homeowners looking to refinance jumped sharply in August.

“What it was a month ago is very different from what we’re seeing now,” Patrick said. “We have the same number of staff to what we have a month ago but a lot more volume, just because everyone’s trying to refinance at the same time.”

Correction (Aug. 30, 2019): An earlier version of this story misspelled Jayme Drozd’s name. The text has been corrected.