This week, home loan lending took another step forward with the introduction of QuickenMortgage.
The Internet-based application and approval system, created by Mt. View, Ca.-based Intuit, allows borrowers to peruse mortgage interest rates from six of the top 25 lenders on a real-time basis. Once borrowers have established loan length and type parameters, and completed a preliminary application, QuickenMortgage serves up the loan programs that most closely meet the borrowers’ needs.
The six charter lenders include Chase Manhattan Mortgage Corp., Countrywide Home Loans, HomeSide Lending, North American Mortgage Company, PNC Mortgage, and Principal Residential Mortgage. These lenders, and others added to the service in the future, will offer a wide range of products, including conventional and jumbo loans, with fixed or adjustable rates, balloon loans, Veteran’s Administration (VA) and Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans.
“By comparison shopping online, consumers can save time and money and make a more informed mortgage decision,” said Bill Harris, Intuit executive vice president.
According to QuickenMortgage product manager Alison Berkley, borrowers can go through the pre-qualification process and receive mortgage product quotes within fifteen minutes. Berkley says the pre-qualification interview helps consumers make apples-to-apples comparisons of different mortgage loan products, customized to their particular property and financial situation.
QuickenMortgage aims to be a one-stop shopping service for home loans, Berkley says. To that end, the site also offers interactive tools that help would-be home borrowers figure out how much they can afford and whether or not they should refinance today. Borrowers can also tap into the “What Are Today’s Rates” display which shows current average rates available for different types of loans in each state.
QuickenMortgage also offers real estate and mortgage news from the Internet-based Inman News Service and Mortgage Market Information Services. Expert advice is also available from syndicated columnists whose work is databased on the site. Finally, the site features a directory of web resources and lists the best home and mortgage web sites.
The site as it exists today is a mere shadow of what Intuit hopes to introduce by the early Spring. By March 1998, Berkley says that QuickenMortgage will allow consumers to complete a full application online, lock in rates, obtain a credit report, and use “best-fit” analysis tools that will allow visitors to calculate the impact of various mortgage options on their current financial situation.
Right now, the site is free to consumers, even if you end up closing on a loan you find through the site. But Berkley said the company is in the process of registering as a mortgage broker in all fifty states. Once that is completed, and the site is able to take a completed application online, QuickenMortgage will charge a half-point (a point is one percent of the loan amount) for each loan that closes.
Berkley said that lenders will be happy to pay the fee because it is less than they spend on advertising and marketing on a per-customer basis. For consumers, the half-point fee is typically less than a conventional lender would charge to do a loan. Berkley said that while QuickenMortgage may not end up as the very cheapest option for consumers, the fact that borrowers can get instant quotes online from six competitive, nationwide lenders will more than make up the difference in cost for many home buyers.
“For many borrowers, it could take a week or longer to call six major lenders and get the apples-to-apples comparison they can get here in fifteen minutes or less,” she said. And, borrowers can save their “work,” so the next time they want to check on the rates, all they have to do is log onto the site.
But Intuit does appear interested in holding down the costs for consumers. Berkley said it is likely that the site pricing for services such as credit reports and electronic appraisals will cost consumers less than they might have paid through a conventional lender.
Since QuickenMortgage comes from the same family that created TurboTax and Quicken, the site is easy to use and understand. The answer to each question is stored and tabulated, and questions build on each other. By the end of the interview phase, QuickenMortgage has created a profile that borrowers can use or modify at a later date.
Although QuickenMortgage sounds pretty good, you should still shop around. As with any other shopping experience, you may find that the best deal for you is not on the Internet, but is at your neighborhood lender’s office. QuickenMortgage can be accessed at http://www.QuickenMortgage.com
Published: Oct 27, 1997