Microsoft Forms New Mortgage Company

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Microsoft Corp. yesterday unveiled a new company that will use the Internet to simplify the mortgage-application process. HomeAdvisor Technologies Inc. will allow customers to lock in real-estate loan rates online and will automate several steps in the home-buying process in an effort to reduce the time it takes to close on a mortgage.

The new company, which will be majority-owned by the Redmond, WA, software giant, will provide tools for real estate and mortgage professionals and will provide home-buying assistance directly to consumers through its division, which will have an exclusive agreement with Microsoft's MSN Internet network and will be promoted through "aggressive consumer marketing campaigns," Microsoft said.

Minority investors in the new company include, Chase Capital Partners, GMAC-RFC, Northwest Mortgage and Bank of America. Freddie Mac also has provided technology contributions and has a financial stake in HomeAdvisor Technologies.

The new company also said yesterday that it acquired Tuttle Decision Systems Inc., which links more than 800 mortgage banks across the country and enables HomeAdvisor to provide risk-based, lockable loan rates from multiple lenders.

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