Wells Fargo & Company's (NYSE:WFC) Web site was recently ranked by Change Sciences Group, a national research firm, as No. 1 in overall online mortgage experience -- specifically for helping people learn the basics of home buying, determining whether refinancing is worthwhile, choosing the right loan, learning how to apply for a loan online and finding a loan officer.
"Recognizing that buying a home can be an intimidating experience, we work hard at making the process simple and comfortable for customers," said Cara Heiden, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage division president of National Consumer and Institutional Lending. "Connecting with our customers through the channel that works best for them is our first priority. We have a nationwide network of more than 10,000 home mortgage consultants, a 24-hour phone option and an easy-to-use Internet site. That's what has made us the leading retail mortgage lender the past 14 years running."(a)
Change Sciences also reported that the Wells Fargo Web site is:
-- the best at providing a first impression that meets the common needs of customers and making it possible for consumers to find loans tailored to their situation;
-- successful at meeting the needs of both the home buyer and individuals who want to refinance;
-- the only site among those reviewed by Change Sciences that had alerts for both interest rates and home prices; and
-- one of the top three sites that required less data entry, clicking, reading and scrolling, as well as minimizing unanswered questions.
"As the first financial services company to provide online access to accounts, we're very pleased to be recognized by Change Sciences as providing a top online mortgage experience," said Jim Smith, executive vice president of Wells Fargo's Internet Channel & Products.
Accelerated Ownership Plan
The top ranking was received just as Wells Fargo announced improvements to benefit its mortgage customers online, including the ability to review detailed, up-to-date escrow information and view year-to-date interest and principal payments. In addition, a new feature called the Accelerated Ownership Plan makes it faster and easier for customers to pay down their loan and build equity, finding a payment solution that meets their financial needs.
Through the new Accelerated Ownership Plan(SM), half of a monthly mortgage payment is automatically withdrawn from a customer's account every two weeks; in the course of a year, 26 "half" mortgage payments are drafted. After a year in the program, the equivalent of 13 full monthly payments will have been made. The additional monthly payment is applied to the outstanding loan balance. This benefits customers by reducing both the principal owed and the term of the loan and saves interest charges on every subsequent loan payment.
Other improvements include the ability for customers to see taxes paid, and options are also available online for customers to request a payoff statement, update or change account information, view account summaries, transfer funds and receive copies of monthly statements for all accounts. Customers can log on to wellsfargo.com once to view and manage their mortgage loan as well as their checking, savings, investment and other bank accounts.
"These improvements give customers a better way to manage all their accounts with Wells Fargo and simplify their financial lives," said Smith.
Wells Fargo has also recently been ranked No. 1 in the Keynote WebExcellence Q3 2006 Scorecard for mortgage in Ease-of-Use; Privacy and Security; Getting Rates and Product Information; and Applying Online for a Loan or Line. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage has been the nation's No. 1 total volume originator of home mortgages since 1993, according to Inside Mortgage Finance.
Wells Fargo & Company is a diversified financial services company with $500 billion in assets, providing banking, insurance, investments, mortgage and consumer finance to more than 23 million customers from more than 6,200 stores and the internet (wellsfargo.com) across North America and elsewhere internationally. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. is the highest credit-rated bank in the U.S., receiving an "Aaa" by Moody's Investors Service -- its top credit rating -- and "AA+" by Standard & Poor's Ratings Services.
(a) "Based on year-end 2005 statistics by Inside Mortgage Finance, 2/17/06."