Originators and real estate agents are considered more trustworthy and credible by home purchasers than online sources about mortgage information, a Fannie Mae study found.

Home buyers in 2016 used an average of 3.4 different sources to get mortgage advice.

Real estate agents were the most cited source, by 77% of respondents, followed by 75% for mortgage lenders, 69% for various online sources and 63% for family and friends.

However, when asked which was the most influential resource for mortgage information, a lender was cited by 32%, followed by 30% for real estate agents, 16% for family and friends and 13% for online sources.

When it came to millennials, which made up 38% of the survey respondents, 29% said a real estate agent was the most influential source of information, with 27% citing a mortgage lender, 23% naming family and friends, and 14% stating it was the online source.

Asked why a particular source was considered to be an influential place to get information, 46% of those that picked online said convenience, but just 8% said trustworthiness and 3% said credibility.

In comparison, trustworthiness was top reason for those that used family and friends (50%), real estate agents (39%) and mortgage lenders (29%).

But mortgage lenders and other person-to-person sources of information can't be complacent about the findings of this survey. They "need to be vigilant as advances in online technology deliver improved experiences and outcomes, which may lead to increased trustworthiness, credibility and influence over time," Steve Deggendorf, Fannie Mae's director of market insights research, said in a blog posting.

To be competitive, lenders and real estate agents need to continue to evolve their digital offerings to provide a multi- or omni-channel experience that allows consumers to move conveniently between online and personal interactions to create the experience that best suits their needs.

Telephone was the most cited by consumers as the method of communicating with their lender, 69%, followed by online at 53% and 47% in-person; respondents were told to pick two options.

When asked what type of communication they would prefer with their lender for their next loan (either refinance or purchase), 61% said telephone, 53% said in-person and 49% said online.

But for their next mortgage, 62% of the respondents want to use their mobile device to compare mortgage quotes, 57% want to get a quote and 48% want to fill out their loan application. For those that got a mortgage in 2016, 35% compared quotes on their mobile device, 34% got a quote and 31% filled out the application.

The survey consisted of over 1,200 consumers that took out a purchase mortgage in 2016 and that loan was acquired by Fannie Mae.

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