Homeowners are reporting greater satisfaction with their mortgage servicers, due in large part to better relations with borrowers who are having difficulty meeting their payments.

Customers reported greatly improved experiences when contacting their mortgage servicer by phone this past year, according to a new JP Power and Associates survey, while at-risk borrowers in particular reported higher levels of customer satisfaction.

First increase in 3 years

Overall customer satisfaction with their mortgage servicers increased for the first time in three years, rising to an average score of 725 on a 1,000-point scale, up from 718 last year. At-risk borrowers showed a 27-point improvement in customer satisfaction scores, while satisfaction among borrowers who contacted their servicer by phone was up 52 points.

"In the past, satisfaction is typically higher when customers do not need to contact their servicer, which makes the increase in overall satisfaction among at-risk customers that much more impressive," said Martin. "By focusing on improving the contact experience, servicers have been able to improve satisfaction among customers who are most likely to be dissatisfied."

More borrowers also reported success in obtaining loan modifications this past year, with 7 percent of homeowners reporting that they are current on their mortgage payments as the result of a loan modification or other payment arrangement, up from 4 percent in the 2011 survey.

Best, worst-rated

The top-rated mortgage servicer was BB&T (Banking Branch and Trust), with a customer satisfaction score of 803 on the 1,000 point scale. BB&T came in at the top of the ratings in all four categories addressed by the survey, Billing and Payment Process, Escrow Account Administration, Website and Phone Contact.

Ocwen Loan Servicing had the lowest score of the 22 servicers covered by the survey, with a rating of 613 and earning only two of five "stars" in each of the four service categories rated.

Chase, Wells Fargo get good marks

Among the nation's major banks, JP Morgan Chase earning the highest ranking, with an overall score of 752 and garnering four stars for its billing/payment process and website. Wells Fargo also was ranked higher than average, with a score of 738 and earning four stars for its handling of phone contacts and escrow accounts.

Bank of America and CitiMortgage both came in below average, with matching scores of 707. Both earned three stars in all four rating categories. GMAC Mortgage came in at the industry average of 725.

Ironically, there's little that consumers can do with the information, since most borrowers have no control over which servicer ends up handling their mortgage. In some cases, though, borrowers may be able to obtain a mortgage through a lender that will service the loan as well.

Published on July 19, 2012