Google Teams with Tech Firms for Online Mortgage Search Tool
[Update 1: Adds information on additional companies involved in the partnership] [Update 2: Adds comments from Mortech president's interview with HousingWire] Search giant Google (GOOG) is partnering with mortgage technology companies for the launch of a new feature that allows consumers to search for mortgage products and rates through its site. In addition to the partnership with Mortech HousingWire previously reported in November, Google has aligned itself with Insight Lending Solutions’ PriceMyLoan mortgage pricing engine and lead management software firm Leads360. In November, Google soft-launched the AdWords Comparison Ads, a search feature that allows customers in certain local markets to shop and compare mortgage products and current rates. Under the partnership, Mortech and PriceMyLoan will provide lender rate quotes in support of the AdWords Comparison Ads tool. The search tool also allows lenders to generate leads and track potential mortgage customers. 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. 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. PriceMyLoan said lenders will pay to advertise in the AdWords Comparison Ads. If the consumer requests to connect with one of the advertised lenders, Google notifies the lender and provides an anonymous phone number to contact the potential customer. “We're excited to assist Google with our mortgage pricing capabilities,” said PriceMyLoan national sales director Gigi Campbell in a press statement. “It's gratifying to know that Google considers our loan pricing technology to be on par with their high standards. We're really looking forward to the new business opportunities that AdWords Comparison Ads can generate for our clients.” Mortech said the process, which does not require users to enter any private information, makes the lending process more transparent and allows consumers to access reliable rate quotes instantly. “Google’s been trying to make sure that their searches deliver the most accurate information,” Mortech president Don Kracl said in an interview with HousingWire. “One of the things they’ve identified over the years is that the mortgage business in particular has really not provided the quality of information that they would like to see. What that resulted in was they thought the only way they could get the quality that was up to their standards was to take control of it.” Other pricing engine software firms working with Google include OpenClose and Optimal Blue. The Kaleidico, LeadMailbox and OpenClose lead management systems are also integrated in the Google application. This alliance is part of a small, but growing trend toward electronic mortgage origination. The backbone of Mortech’s contribution to the alliance is Marksman, a five-year-old product and pricing engine for lenders to conduct their electronic origination business. With Google's entry into the space, electronic origination stands to grow significant, Kracl said. “We think it’s going to add a lot of legitimacy to the whole Internet lending space,” he said. The Mortech-Google alliance didn’t come without some bumps on the road. Tree.com (TREE) subsidiary Lending Tree sued Mortech in 2009, claiming Mortech’s plans to partner with Google infringed on its operating business agreement with LendingTree. That suit was later settled in September under undisclosed terms. Write to Austin Kilgore. The author holds no relevant investment positions.