Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Mortgage Technology

Mortgage Technology: "GMAC Launches Wholesale Web Application
Horsham, Pa.-based GMAC Bank's wholesale lending unit launched a Web application called Get Scenario, available to its broker and correspondent customers, which enables users to enter loan level data attributes and almost instantly receive a list of eligible products for sale through GMAC Bank. Get Scenario was also designed for enhanced ease and efficiency in the loan registration process. First, GMAC Bank correspondents and brokers login to http://www.gmacbankwholesale.com. Second, users enter a few pieces of their customer's loan information, and a requested final rate or final price. From there, the Get Scenario application will provide a list of eligible products, which users can click on to get more information. Users then click on the price and are provided detailed pricing and loan attribute detail. Further, if GMAC Bank customers are not sure if the recommended product is the best option for their borrowers, they can alter the data and view another potential set of products. Lastly, when users find the product for their borrower they are most satisfied with, they can register and lock the loan directly from the application. "

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Search Engine Optimization Tactics

Take a small amount of time to understand SEO and you may see big results

I apologize for the lack of posts lately... I'm incredibly busy with several tech projects and my own origination business is growing. The funny thing is that the busier I get, the more information I seem to be accumulating that seems worthy of posts.

For example, Thor Skonnord (the man behind Quick Qualifier Software), has a great primer on Search Engine Optimization in this month's issue of MOM. READ THIS ARTICLE. Many LO's are using PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising when they would be better served creating web pages that focus on their specific Niche Topic and learn to better use SEO. Once you are proficient at SEO then PPC might be worthwhile, but given the increase in PPC fraud, it isn't for the uneducated.

You can check out Chip Cumming's website for some great articles as well (turn you speakers down when you go here as his website has some sizzle and pop music that automatically plays).

Showing a borrower how to increase their net worth by $75k in 5 years

It's nice to provide exceptional value to a stressed out mom

She has two teens, basically is the sole provider, and has been going backwards each and every month, tapping into her home equity account. While the 15 year mortgage is at $18k, the payments are $700/mos. Using Mortgage Coach I was able to show how repositioning her debt and changing the way she allocates funds on a monthly basis, she'll build additional wealth to the tune of $75k in 5 years and have $1k in cashflow flexibility each month. At 55, every year is precious and retirement looms. While I'm very vocal that, from a technology perspective, the current Mortgage Coach Software is on its last lap, it still is a tool that quantifies (or, as Dave Savage likes to say, "Dollarizes") the benfits of a refinance better than anything else I've seen.

By the way, there are rumors that a significant evolution of the Mortgage Coach software is due to be released late this year. I'm keeping my fingers crossed, but, in the meantime, MC is, forgive the analogy, like a favorite pair of jeans or t-shirt that you just can't replace... for now.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Great Blog: Seattle’s Rain City Real Estate Guide

I have been putting together a business plan for blogging in my area of expertise, mortgages. The bottom line for me has been providing value to create results. Not only do I love what I do, I love working with quality, intelligent, results oriented experts who are affinities for my industry. As I've done research around a potential model, the best representation of an effective blog in this genre is one out of Seattle. Great Teamwork, interesting information, and quality writing. A must to check out if you are interested in blogging as a path in your business. Thanks to lenderama.com for providing me the initial link. Here is their mission:

Our mission at Rain City Guide is simple. We want to be the best resource for
real estate information in the Seattle area. With that in mind, a group of dedicated real estate professionals has decided to work together to provide you with a constant stream of updates about the local real estate market. Unlike other sites that
are simply focused on giving you data, the group at Rain City Guide
has organized around a “blog” in order to provide context to the vast amount of real
estate information that is available!

Monday, February 13, 2006

The best tool to model process is actually free!

I'm in awe that this product is actually free

I'm visual. Lots of words and I'm lost. Lots of pictures and I'm clued in. When it comes to process, I'm usually in front of a white board or have yellow pad with lots of arrows and lines and unreadable side notes. Translating that to paper and outlining it for use is, well, often difficult. If you need visual modelling for your loan and marketing process and have found Visio or Project to not meet your needs, check out
Synthis. I'm litterally in awe of this product after 20 minutes. Can this really be free? Most products like this are so weak, they leave you hanging, or so complicated, only a process engineer can figure them out. This product is so easy to use, yet has the depth to define a process and associated resources that combined with and interface that makes so much sense right out of the gate, there seems only one word.... "WOW."

Thursday, February 09, 2006

What ZILL they think of next?

http://www.zillow.comA new site, tons of buzz, and the fear factor spreads.... be very scared

Everyone is psyched out about the new site that takes HomeGain.com and combines it with Google Earth. Frankly, I see a lot of Flash but very little long-term function. I see diagnosis without complete input. I see prepared analysis without adequate explanation. I see a generally flawed model being presented as a consumer tool. This is a funny section in the help:

Can I use the Zestimate to get a Loan?
No, you can't. To get a federally guaranteed loan, a law called FIRREA (the Federal Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act) requires an appraisal from a professional appraiser (OK... STOP THE BUSES. I ASKED ABOUT A LOAN, NOT AN FHA LOAN... A CONVENTIONAL LOAN IS NOT FEDERALLY GUARANTEED). The Zestimate is our estimate of fair market value, a starting point for home buyers and sellers and anyone just plain interested in the value of houses. You can use it in negotiating, in judging market trends, and in calculating all sorts of things for your personal purposes.

Why did we go directly to FHA loans from Zestimating to get a loan? There is so much context missing here in order to consumerize the info. Argh. How can something go from a starting point to a negotiating in one sentencel? And what are the sorts of things I'll be calculating for my personal purposes? Is Zestimate a technical term? I see confusion propagating across the landscape of America. Realtors getting papercuts from angry client with their "Zestimates" in hand, appraiser chased off premises because their comps differ from the "Zestimate," lenders being sued because the appraised value came in lower than the Zestimation. I see Congress adopting the Zestimation Proclamation. Bottom line, someone read a Seth Godin book (I love Seth's books, by the way) and then, because they did Expedia, got $6 million to start this company. It starts with "Z" and rhymes with "Pillow." Yes, it's Zillow.

This site is a great example of how the consumer desires to be in control. Good thing. It also is a good example of how repackaging existing information can lead to a very appealing site. The problem is, once you have your info, why in the world would you want to go back? And who is going to try to understand statistical models and how a median error and confidence % actually impact the meaning of a Zestimation. Most consumers will look at the summary value and take it on face value. That number will stick in their heads and it will embed itself. It will then become a sticking point in which Zillow must be right because all Real Estate professionals and lenders are liars. Everyone will know that the Zillow people are just out to present honest information. We'll just hide the fact that they have no accountablity, not govenment oversight, no investor money at stake when securing the loan. Boy, what a rant I'm on here. Anyways, I know, because I deal with clients every day and know how powerful a number, even amidst caveats, can be.

Oh, dear. This is a cool site and I want to like it. But I see a hornets nest and everyone within reach getting stung. Do you think a Doctor is really excited when you bring WebMD printouts into the office to show them how you've self diagnosed your disease and only have 4 days to live? Cool maps do not a true valuation make.

Read more on this at Lenderama. Todd's taking this a lot more academically than I am.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Don't miss these great posts from the last 5 mos (Part 1)

There is a lot of great material from the past 5 mos that new readers may be missing... enjoy!

One of my recent articles for LoanToolbox discussed using Technology as a Unique Selling Proposition. Another way to look at this, is, to help your Real Estate partners accomplish the same by being aware of innovations that might set them apart. Here's one: Cell Story.

FREEBIES #1 - The first of many posts about resources that are useful, usable, and, best of all, free.

As clients look for options to free up cashflow, look beyond just their mortgage. Recently, I helped a client save $1200/mos in debt service, $45/mos on homeowners insurance, and another $95/mos from the IRS. Ask your client if they get a return. If it is substantial, they may want to look at this tool on withholding from the IRS.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

this is an audio post - click to play