Tighter underwriting and longer waits to closing reduced customer satisfaction with home lenders this year, according to J.D. Power and Associates.

A survey of more than 3,400 recent borrowers conducted by the market research firm in July and August found that satisfaction had dropped 2.4% from a year earlier, to 739 on a scale of 1,000.

BB&T Corp. had the highest score among ranked lenders, 783, followed by Wachovia Corp.'s 781. (Wells Fargo & Co., which bought Wachovia at the end of last year, had a score of 754.)

The lowest score, 704, was given to Taylor, Bean & Whitaker Mortgage Corp., which filed for bankruptcy protection in August. Citigroup Inc. had the second lowest score, 711.

J.D. Power said the average time from application to closing increased by about 17 days from the year-earlier period, to almost 47 days, which it attributed to greater scrutiny of applications and a flood of refinancings.

"Good underwriting and delivering a satisfying customer experience are not mutually exclusive," David Lo, the director of J.D. Power's financial services practice, said in a press release Thursday.

The Westlake Village, Calif., firm said customer satisfaction averaged 793 "among customers whose lender provided and met a time frame for the application/approval process," and dropped substantially "when customers were asked to provide the same information more than once."

"More than 60% of customers with high satisfaction levels say they 'definitely will' consider their lender when they refinance, while only 13% of less-satisfied customers say the same," J.D. Power said.

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