Friday, November 13, 2009

Google and Mortech Soft Launch Mortgage Pricing Tool

Posted on the Housing Wire by Austin Kilgore:

Mortgage pricing software developer Mortech is moving forward with its plans to provide technology to a new mortgage-pricing feature on Google.

The “Adwords Comparison Ads” device is a test product Google is developing. The targeted ad product can be adapted for a variety of search terms, but currently is in limited release to certain users and is only available to a limited number of advertisers in the mortgage/refinance space.

In a post on Google’s official blog, the search giant explains how the ad device works when a user enters the term mortgage in its search engine.

“Comparison Ads improves the ad experience on Google.com by letting users specify exactly what they are looking for and helping them quickly compare relevant offers side by side,” Google wrote on its blog. “Users searching for ‘mortgage’ on Google.com may see a promotion from Comparison Ads prompting them to select the type of loan they are looking for and to compare various rates.”

A user who clicks the ad is sent to a second page. The user can then enter the principal of the mortgage, borrower credit rating, down payment and information on the location of a prospective property and the search provides additional real-time price quotes for a number of mortgage products provided by different lenders.

HousingWire has learned this search device was developed through a partnership with Mortech — the same partnership that resulted in a lawsuit (which was later settled) from LendingTree.com earlier this year.

Mortech officials declined to comment on its relationship with Google, but the partnership is only one of a number of partnerships Mortech is developing to implement its real-time mortgage pricing software into other online services.

One such arrangement will implement Mortech searches with the real estate Web pages of a major newspaper corporation that has as many as 70 newspapers.

Mortech president Don Kracl told HousingWire the newspaper company is one of a dozen firms with a real estate-oriented Internet presence that are implementing the company’s pricing services.

“Prices change so rapidly in the mortgage industry, so we’re working on some applications that take the instant pricing ability that we already have and tying that together with real estate listings, multiple listings, for sale by owner and MLS Web sites,” Kracl said.

The landscape for real estate Internet is changing, Kracl said. With more consumers using Internet tools to search for anything from camcorders to homes or mortgages, Kracl said, consumers are savvier and want more from their home buying Internet experience.

“Somewhere around 80% of all real estate transactions begin on the Internet. But consumers go there and there’s so much bad information on the Web and it’s a bait and switch mentality, so they get frustrated and end up going to the brick and mortar across the street,” Kracl said.

“Consumers are pretty smart characters and they’re starting to figure out that the low rate on a lot of these displays is not who’s getting most of the traffic,” he added. “People realize if it’s too good to be true, it probably is, they get it. If somebody’s rates are a half percentage point lower than everybody else, people know something’s up.”

The newspaper relationship is appealing to Mortech because many newspapers already have an extensive real estate Web presence, but don’t offer Internet-based avenues for initiating the mortgage origination process. Kracl believes Mortech’s technology can fill that gap.

“The tie-in with newspapers that’s so appealing to us, if you go look at their realty classified ads, most of them do a nice job with them. They’re viewed by a lot of people, they’re dynamic, they’re well presented. We think we can tie into that with the real-time responses to their audience,” he said.

While Mortech is expanding its presence with other companies, it’s also still providing technology for the online loan aggregator’s mortgage search engines. Now that the lawsuit’s been resolved, Kracl described his company’s relationship with LendingTree as “business as usual,” and one that will continue to grow.

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