Home-Buying Site Adds Mortgage Services

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IOwn.com, a full-service home-buying site, made available this week mortgage origination and closing services to its customers through a partnership with MortgageSelect.com, the online arm of American Home Mortgage, New York.

IOwn.com users can now review mortgage rates and apply for mortgages online. The site also offers consumers location-based real estate listings, home improvement information and calculators to help consumers decide whether to rent or buy.

"We originally provided inhouse mortgage services, but felt that outsourcing to MortgageSelect would prove more profitable," said Jenna Marshall, vice president of marketing at iOwn.com, San Francisco.

"We differentiate ourselves from the competition by offering mortgages to consumers with good credit as well as poor credit," said Scott Messina, senior vice president at MortgageSelect. He added that the firm offers rates that are not subject to change for 45 days after consumers receive them, as opposed to the traditional 30-day quote period.

"IOwn tried to become a mortgage company, but it encountered roadblocks to delivering the goods. Most firms that try to dabble in the mortgage business online have not done well on fulfillment of that product."

MortgageSelect is looking to launch banner ads and affiliate marketing programs on other home improvement and purchase portals, Messina said. While MortgageSelect has its own site, www.mortgageselect.com, the company's core business is conducted through co-branding agreements on partner sites.

"A small percentage of our business is through the Web site, but it is mainly used as a technology testing ground," Messina said.

While MortgageSelect primarily targets a younger Web-savvy audience, the company attracts consumers representing a wide demographic spectrum. IOwn focuses on a relatively affluent Web-savvy audience, but is also used by "retired teachers in Alabama to first-time home buyers in Internet-intense markets," Marshall said.

The online mortgage provider reported $11.5 million in revenue for the second quarter of 2000 and $145 million in closed loan volume in that quarter, an increase of more than 80 percent from this year's first quarter.

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