Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Mortgage Marvel: going hyperlocal

Mortgagebot, Mequon, Wisc., has announced that new features added to its Mortgage Marvel offering will allow consumers seeking mortgage loans the ability to see their closest originators. Mortgage Marvel is a consumer-facing loan search engine the company introduced in October 2007.

Mortgagebot says its search engine is already unique for a number of reasons. First, it's easier. One screen, three data fields and you get search results. Second, consumers are not asked to reveal personal information. Third, the company says the results are more accurate because they pull the data from the On Demand LOS/online lending system they supply to the lenders, Mortgagebot PowerSite.

The new functionality is designed to align Mortgage Marvel with the hyperlocal Internet, according to the company, a concept first popularized by futurist and author Bruce Sterling.

"The difference between the old-fashioned Web and the hyperlocal Web—that’s hyper as in hyperlinked and local as in location—is that the databases of the new Web are stuffed with geographic coordinates. Real positions. Real distances," Sterling told Wired Magazine.

If that's what consumers want, Mortgagebot plans to give it to them by adding functionality to Mortgage Marvel that enables loan seekers to filter rate-search results to display only those Mortgage Marvel lenders that have branches within 5, 15, 25, or 50 miles of a specified ZIP code. Borrowers can also display the locations (address listing and map view) of the 10 closest branches for each lender shown on the comparison table—and the estimated distance to each branch from the specified ZIP code.

I spoke to Mortgagebot's Chief Marketing Officer Dan Welbaum at the recent Mortgage Bankers Association Technology in Mortgage Banking conference in Dallas. He told me that Mortgagebot clients are embracing Mortgage Marvel and it has become a good source of leads for them.

"Our clients report that, on average, same store sales are up 22%," Welbaum said. "And this is in a year that originations are down 15%. It's working."

Welbaum says Mortgagebot added 140 new lenders this year, but did not say how important Mortgage Marvel was to their decision to implement PowerSite. I'm sure it didn't hurt. Lenders are already working harder to find good leads and their disappointment with online lead vendors is growing.

A video overview of Mortgage Marvel is available online.

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