Lending Real Estate

Google shuttering mortgage comparison tool

Will shut down entire Compare service in March

Google

(Update: This article is updated to include a statement from Zillow)

Exactly four months to the day after announcing that it was launching a mortgage comparison tool via its Compare service, multiple reports say Google is shutting down its entire Compare service in both the U.S. and the U.K.

Google announced in November that it was adding mortgages to its Compare service with the help of Zillow Group and LendingTree, after reports of Google getting into the mortgage business first surfaced earlier last year.

Now, the entire Compare service is in its last days.

According to multiple reports, including Search Engine Land and the Wall Street Journal, Google sent an email to its Compare partners on Monday stating that it will begin to “ramp down” its Compare service on Tuesday, and will terminate the service entirely as of March 23, 2016.

Google Compare was no stranger to mortgages, just not in this country. Google Compare in the United Kingdom previously offered mortgages, as well as car insurance, travel insurance and credit cards.

Google began laying the groundwork for its mortgage comparison tool in February 2015, when it launched its own built-in mortgage calculator.

But that was the beginning of what turned out to be a very short venture into mortgages for Google.

As it turns out, Google Compare wasn’t the “success” that Google was hoping for.

Despite appearing to be a helpful tool to allow consumers to search for the best deal for a credit card, insurance, or even a mortgage, Google Compare was an ad product, one that Google reportedly viewed as a way to attract additional advertising dollars.

But according to the e-mail from Google to its compare partners, which was obtained by Search Engine Land, the product wasn’t generating enough money to remain viable.

“Despite people turning to Google for financial services information, the Google Compare service itself hasn’t driven the success we hoped for,” the Google Compare team said in the e-mail.

“We greatly appreciate your partnership and understand that this decision will be disappointing to some,” the e-mail continues. “But after a lot of careful consideration, we’ve decided that focusing more intently on AdWords and future innovations will enable us to provide fresh, comprehensive answers to Google users, and to provide our financial services partners with the best return on investment.”

According to the Search Engine Land report, a Google spokesperson said that searches on the Google Compare tool “remained high,” the revenue generated by it was “minimal.”

Perhaps the mortgage revenue was “minimal” because Google only launched the service four months ago, and initially only in California.

Google had high hopes for the mortgage comparison service at first, stating that it planned to expand beyond California.

“Google Compare for mortgages provides a seamless, intuitive experience that connects lenders with borrowers online,” Google posted on its blog when the mortgage comparison tool launched in November.

“Whether you’re a national lender or one local to California, people searching for mortgages on their smartphone or desktop computer can now find you, along with a real-time, apples-to-apples comparison of rate quotes from other lenders — all in as little as a minute,” Google continued.

“Borrowers can also see ratings and read helpful reviews, and enter relevant information — like loan amount, estimated credit score, or home value — to receive rate quotes that match their needs,” Google said. “They can then visit your website to apply directly online or over the phone through one of your agents or loan officers.”

Google wasn’t going it alone in mortgages either, partnering with Zillow and LendingTree for mortgage information.

At the time, Zillow said that lenders who use Zillow Group Mortgages for their marketing efforts would have their rates, ratings and reviews prominently displayed on both “the world’s most popular search engine” and “the most visited real estate media network in the country.”

As it turns out, consumers’ ability to shop for a mortgage on “the world’s most popular search engine” was short-lived.

In a statement provided to HousingWire, LendingTree said that it is unfazed by the loss of Google Compare.

“Google has been, and will continue to be, a great partner for us in paid and organic search,” LendingTree said in statement. “And while we were helping to power their Google Compare for Mortgage product, it was ultimately competitive to our core offering. Loans are a considered purchase that require focus, expertise and deep lender partnerships, areas where LendingTree excels.”

Zillow shares that sentiment, stating that is “difficult” for a technology company to succeed in a “complicated space” like mortgages.

“Zillow Group has the benefit of intense focus on real estate and mortgages and over the past eight years we have built a leading platform that excels at delivering a great user experience that gives home shoppers access to real time rates and more than 224,000 ratings and reviews of lenders, while allowing lenders to connect with the largest audience of home shoppers on the Web,” the company said in a statement.

Google pulling back from mortgages isn’t the first time that the search engine monolith has flamed out in real estate.

In 2011, Google got out of the real estate listings business, removing real estate listings from Google Maps.

Google launched the real estate listing tool in 2009, but removed it two years later, stating that real estate listing feature is simply not popular enough to justify its existence.

And now, it seems that Google Compare is suffering a similar fate.

(Image above courtesy of nito / Shutterstock.com)

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