Lenders say online mortgages no threat

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 28, 2000

It seems easy — type in some personal information, wait a few minutes, and you get an answer about your home loan application.

But with such a seemingly simple process, are online mortgages hurting local vendors?

Not really, say Natchez lenders.

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&uot;We do see some customers that are looking to the Internet,&uot; said Frances Cothren, mortgage officer for Britton & Koontz First National Bank. &uot;Usually they have already gone to the Internet first, and most of the time we can offer as good or a better deal.&uot;

Tanya Tassin, mortgage loan officer at AmSouth Bank, said many people may be wary of giving so much personal information online.

&uot;I don’t know if it offers any better rates,&uot; Tassin said. &uot;More or less they offer the same thing we do.&uot;

And with a human face, Cothren said.

&uot;There does need to be some interaction,&uot; she said.

Still, online mortgage sites can offer valuable information, from payment calculators to rates to a credit check.

But Cothren said people looking to buy a house probably still want that personal touch — especially, in a small town, if it’s a personal touch from someone they know.

Natchez Realtor Sue Stedman said she has known a few customers who financed their houses through online mortgages, but they were out-of-towners new to the area.

&uot;We would certainly like for everyone to use local vendors,&uot; Cothren said.

Also, loan officers may be able to provide more personalized answers to questions that could get a better deal for the potential homeowner, Cothren said.

&uot;There may be another angle that the mortgage originator would be able to offer you if you ask the right questions,&uot; she said.

Still, Cothren said she acknowleges that online mortgages are available — and being used. Britton & Koontz is, in fact, in the process of establishing an online program that will accept mortgage applications, she said.

&uot;Technology is here now; it’s not even the future,&uot; Cothren said. &uot;But some areas have not been tested.&uot;