Rate Your Mortgage – a Side by Side Comparison

On December 30, I paid mortgages on line to try and get a little break by paying “more interest” in 2009. While doing this I made “side by side” comparisons of the mortgage companies or their servicer. The mortgage companies used in this comparison were Wells Fargo, First Horizon, Saxon, and Everhome. I used statements, company websites, and transaction fees to rate my mortgage companies.

The winner in the statement category is Wells Fargo. The W/F statement paper uses bold font and contrasting colored background to draw the eye to the information I need at a glance. Their entire statement, complete with payment coupon, can be copied or faxed on standard sized paper. For the compact size, more customer information is readily available on the front of the statement. Updates for customer address and telephone number are on the reverse of the payment coupon. Update information is printed one character per box and forces the borrower to be neat an aid to accuracy.

A close second in the statement category is Saxon. The different categories of information is separated in chart type blocks and accented by print in contrasting color. Customer service contact was on the back page of the statement and did not include informtion for hearing impaired customers. The statement information is standard size, but with payment coupon attached it would not scan or fax to standard size paper. Customer update information is on the reverse of the payment coupon, in a line format instead of blocked per character.

First Horizon statements use color highlight only on their name and logo. The balance of the statement is in black print. The category of information is divided into chart-type format and headline information is in bold font. Customer service information on the front page is limited to one telephone number and web address. Customer update information is on the reverse of the statement header. To use the update portion the statement is mutilated for personal file use and mailed separately from the mortgage payment. Also with payment coupon attached, the statement will not scan or fax to standard sized paper.

Everhome uses a coupon book. Contact information is included in the pages of the booklet. The drawback of a coupon book is that it obviously can not contain any current information about when a payment is received and how the payment is distributed.

W/F and Everhome charged no fee for online payment. Saxon charged $2.50 because the payment was handled by Western Union Speed Pay. First Horizon/MetLife charged a whopping $11.00 for using their website and paying online.

W/F, First Horizon, and Everhome allowed a higher payment for additional principal reduction when paying online. Saxon did not. I was unable to increase the payment from their “payment due” + processing fee.

W/F, Everhome, and Saxon payment confirmations (print for your records) were the most clear. Loan number and bank information and payment amount were on separate lines in a block. First Horizon payment amount and banking information were lost in a paragraph format below the loan information. I highlighted First Horizon information before filing for that reason.

I checked on the account activity information the next day, December 31. W/F and First Horizon indicated the payment received and the way the payment was allocated. Saxon reflected that a payment was received, but until the next statement is printed no distribution of the payment is available. Everhome did not update until January 5, 2010, even though the payment was made on December 30.