Recently I went about buying a new set of downhill skis. I had no clue what was available on the market and with no time to go into a ski shop I turned to the internet. Within an hour I narrowed down a selection of hundreds of skis to just one. The quality of information online was excellent and included useful information from the manufacturers’ sales reps, price quotes and candid video testimonials of skiers who tested the same skis that I bought. The entire process was amazing and the experience gave me the confidence to buy the skis online all without ever consulting an expert.
When it comes to shopping online, I’m not alone. Statistics Canada reports that in 2010, 51% of Canadian internet users ordered goods or services online. Not surprising considering the number of people buying concert tickets, airline tickets, booking hotels, or buying electronics like iphones and cameras. But how good is the internet when it comes to shopping for more personalized and "technical" goods and services like skis or mortgages? Well, shopping for skis online obviously works, so what about shopping online for a mortgage?
The experience of a mortgage borrower shopping online can't be much different than my experience shopping for skis. Just like skis, mortgages are technical and come in different shapes, sizes and brands each designed for a specific purpose. Narrowing down your search can be a challenge with every broker, bank and specialty website vying to grab your attention. The noise can be overwhelming. So should you feel confident shopping for a mortgage online?
Lets face it, mortgages remain the single largest expense a typical household will incur. I think few people feel confident making a decision based solely on information gathered from a website without consulting a professional. But, with better and better mortgage sites appearing, the ability to shop completely online for a mortgage may one day become a reality. Mortgage websites have evolved into reliable resources helping you, the borrower, find relevant information to help choose the right mortgage.
Take the popular mortgage site ratehub.ca a one of kind website that not only serves as a search engine to find Canada's best rates but serves as a platform to educate and empower borrowers to make informed mortgage decisions. A great feature of the site is that neither a financial institution nor a mortgage broker runs it so the information and advice are neutral.
1. Sites that engage visitors through social media like Twitter and Facebook. A site that engages their audience is likely to be careful about the quality of content they’re sharing online.
2. If the broker is blogging, check to see how recent their posts are. It's a great way of determining whether someone is “home” and actively working the site. It also helps you to determine if the content is relevant and current.
3. Check for testimonials on a brokers website. As brokers we crave affirmation that we’re doing a good job and we love to share our success with the world. It's also surprisingly obvious when someone is faking testimonials on their own site.
I've written enough mortgages in my career to know that there isn't a one size fits all mortgage solution. We live in a dynamic and ever changing world and the needs of each borrower are unique. Having said that you shouldn't shy away from educating yourself online and engaging mortgage websites. They provide a wealth of relevant information that can help you level the playing field so that when you do engage a mortgage professional you are doing so well informed.
Now, if only it would snow I could use those skis that I bought online!