WASHINGTON — The Internet has become an essential research tool for mortgage shoppers, but few consumers are ready to use the Web to either apply or close on their mortgages, according to a survey released Wednesday by the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The survey, conducted over the Internet by Greenfield Online between Oct. 18 and Nov. 7, asked consumers about the importance of the Internet in mortgage shopping. Of the 1,005 consumers polled, 709 obtained a new mortgage last year, and 296 had refinanced an existing mortgage.

Seventy-three percent of the consumers who got a new mortgage had used the Internet to obtain interest rates, and 56% used it to get application information. However, only 12% applied for a mortgage online, and only 3% used the Web to close a loan.

Seventy-eight percent of the consumers who refinanced used the Internet to obtain rates, and 50% went online for information about applying for a loan.

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