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Home Equity Lending Moves Online

October 26, 2021

Homeowners are increasingly using online platforms for a variety of purposes when obtaining home equity loans or lines of credit. Online activities range from obtaining information to actually applying for the product. This is in sharp contrast to the time when home equity lending was introduced and the process was completed entirely in person at branches or offices. Today, home equity lenders must have their online systems ready to provide up-to-date product information and offer homeowners the ability to apply via computer or mobile phone. These are among the findings from the 2021 edition of the Home Equity Lending Monitor, a study conducted annually by Phoenix Synergistics (a unit of Phoenix Marketing International). The Monitor is a comprehensive examination of the market from the consumer’s perspective and includes an online survey of 2,500 homeowners.

Current holders of home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) were asked about the channels they used to obtain information about HELOCs. Branches were the top channel for information, followed by the internet using a mobile phone and the internet via computer. Usage of the internet (via both mobile phone and computer) to obtain information has increased when compared to 2020.

Channels Used to Obtain HELOC Information (2017-2021)

Current holders of HELOCs were also questioned regarding the channels they used to apply for the product. More than half (54%) report they applied online, which represents an increase from 36% in 2020. Usage of computers and usage of mobile phones are about equal. Homeowners in the 18 to 49 age segment are more likely to indicate they applied via mobile phone. In-person application is indicated by close to half (49%), declining from 60% in 2020. Mail follows, and at the bottom are various telephone channels. On average, HELOC holders used 2.0 channels when applying for their line of credit.

Channels Used to Apply for HELOCs

Online channels also dominate application preferences among HELOC prospects. More than four in ten cite some type of online method as their preferred application channel. Applying online by computer is preferred by one-quarter of prospects. Slightly more than one-quarter would prefer to apply in person.

Bill McCracken, president of Phoenix Synergistics, stated, “After many years of primarily in-person applications, the home equity lending market is now largely online. Online platforms are essential as information sources and as application channels. Mobile phones are an especially important channel for younger homeowners. Home equity lenders must make sure the online information about their products and services is up to date and comprehensive. Online application channels need to be available and be made as seamless as possible. The home equity lending market now feels at home with online channels.”

These are among the findings from the Phoenix Synergistics 2021 Home Equity Lending Monitor. This twenty-first-annual installment of the study surveyed 2,500 homeowners—including 1,125 holders of home equity lines or loans, 375 home equity credit prospects, and 1,000 home equity credit rejecters. The Home Equity Lending Monitor is the most comprehensive home equity lending study available, profiling and tracking consumer behavior, attitudes, and trends in the market for home equity loans and lines of credit.

Phoenix Synergistics, a unit of Phoenix Marketing International, is the leading provider of multi-sponsor marketing research for the financial services industry. For more information, contact Bill McCracken, president, Phoenix Synergistics, email

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