Mark Warner, the chief executive officer of RealEspace, explained a different approach to providing transparency in mortgage lending through the company’s RateWindow tool.
RateWindow is a widget that real estate brokers and agents can embed on their Web sites to provide information on loan programs and pricing offered by wholesale lenders. RealEspace claims the widget helps consumers comparison shop by revealing the loan originator’s fees, including yield-spread premiums, which are rebates lenders pay on loans that carry higher interest rates (see story).
Another aspect of the homebuying process that sometimes gets less attention — the provision of settlement services like title insurance — is the focus of another company that cites transparency as its goal.
La Jolla, Calif.-based ClosingCorp Inc. recently rolled out a widget that allows consumers and real estate professionals to calculate closing costs by querying a database of more than 140,000 companies to obtain fees and quotes for settlement services ranging from title insurance to home and pest inspections.
Users enter information about a transaction including property location, purchase price and loan amount, and the SmartClosing Calculator widget computes the fees, charges and taxes that lenders are required to include on the good faith estimate (GFE) provided to mortgage applicants.
The company estimates consumers can save $300 to $1,500 per transaction by shopping for the best deal on settlement services (see story).
The same capabilities are offered at ClosingCorp’s Web site, Closing.com, which received a 2009 Inman Innovator Award for "Most Innovative New Technology" during the Real Estate Connect conference on Friday (see article).
"Most closing services haven’t migrated to the Web — we’re working to change that," said ClosingCorp CEO Anthony Farwell.
It’s a business "that has not had the benefit of much transparency," Farwell said, despite the fact that it’s not exactly a cottage industry. Farwell said ClosingCorp’s own research suggests closing and settlement services generate 100 million transactions a year and $50 billion in revenue.
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