Industry NewsTechnology

Site aims to crack closing costs black box

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If many home buyers have never shopped for their own title insurance, will they use a Web site that not only helps them do that, but also select their own appraiser, home inspector, surveyor, or termite company? Jeff Lazerson thinks they will, and armed with a $100,000 Ford Foundation grant, he's building, a Web site that he says will allow not only consumers but real estate and mortgage professionals to shop for settlement services. Lazerson, a veteran mortgage broker, thinks state and federal laws are driving the industry to increased transparency, and that the timing is right to launch "What Zillow has done for appraisals, we'll do for closing services," Lazerson claims. Lazerson says that when it comes to providing settlement services, the real estate and mortgage lending industry has been on a "gravy train" since 1974, when the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, or RESPA was put into place. He calls ...