Digital Refunds Could Improve Homebuying Experience, Survey Shows

More than half of American homeowners who have escrow accounts received a refund from their mortgage service provider last year. And while an overwhelming majority of them say they prefer digital payments over checks or other forms of physical payments, companies continue to put checks in the mail.

Today’s active lending market presents ample opportunities for companies to improve the homeownership, purchasing, and refinancing experience by updating existing refund-payout processes, according to experts from fintech Onbe, a corporate payouts platform that conducted a spring survey on title, escrow, and mortgage payments.

Onbe’s survey, “Digital Payments Are the Key to Convenient Title, Escrow & Mortgage Refunds,” revealed that 61% of homeowners received a mortgage payment refund after their loan was sold to a new lender, and despite the weighty 92% who told surveyors they preferred digital payments, 44% wound up awaiting the proverbial check in the mail.

Onbe’s Melissa Hentschel, Chief Client Officer points out that—with Freddie Mac most recently reporting a 3.9% month-over-month increase in mortgage lending activity, including a 5.9% increase in refinancing, and a 3.2% increase in purchase applications—there is more opportunity than ever for mortgage, title, and escrow companies to measurably meet consumers’ preferences and improve their experiences.

“As the preference for digital payouts continues growing, buyers deserve the same choice and convenience they experience elsewhere in their lives as a fundamental part of their homebuying journey,” Hentschel said.

Virtual prepaid cards are the most preferred digital option among consumers who receive a refund from their mortgage lender. And while almost everyone desires instant digital delivery of lender-related payouts, accuracy, convenience, and choice remain top priorities, according to the report.

The most common title and escrow refunds (41%) were a result of overpaid closing costs, the report found.

Today’s technology allows companies to not only streamline and automate existing payment processes for “a welcome experience as [clients] enjoy their new home or property,” but also as a way to offload the fraud risk and compliance burden associated with issuing refunds by check, according to Hentschel.

“Digital payments are the key to convenient title, escrow, and mortgage refunds.”

Click here to read the full report from Onbe, “Digital Payments Are the Key to Convenient Title, Escrow & Mortgage Refunds.”

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Christina Hughes Babb

Christina Hughes Babb is an independent journalist who has written for DS News and MReport since 2020. A graduate of Southern Methodist University, she has been a reporter, editor, and publisher in the Dallas area for more than 15 years, has penned thousands of articles on housing and real estate, politics, entertainment, and human interest for the likes of Texas Monthly,, and Dallas Morning News. She has won two Mayborn School of Journalism nonfiction writing prizes, a Society of Features Journalism award, and numerous awards issued by Independent Free Papers of America for her work at Dallas Advocate magazines. Reach her on Instagram @chughesbabb.
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