BrokerageIndustry News

Trulia generating leads for mortgage lenders

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Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct that the Zillow Mortgage Marketplace generates nearly 1 million consumer loan requests a month.

Real estate search and marketing portal Trulia is getting into the business of generating leads for mortgage lenders with the launch of a consumer mortgage rate and fee comparison tool.

The Trulia Mortgage Center — also available through iPad and iPhone apps — offers preliminary rate and fee quotes from mortgage lenders when consumers enter basic information like credit score, home price, down payment amount and property type. After clicking on a specific quote, users are taken to a page with a lead form for the lender along with details of the loan, including estimated monthly costs.

The tool generates real-time comparison mortgage rates and fees for home purchase and refinancing with 40-, 30- and 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, and a variety of adjustable-rate mortgages. It also allows users to filter search results by loan type and prepaid interest fee amount, and to sort by fees, rates, annual percentage rates, monthly payments and loan type.

Screen shot of Trulia Mortgage Center website landing page.

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Nebraska-based mortgage technology company Mortech Inc., exclusively powers the automatic loan quotes generated on the site for participating lenders. Other sites, like Zillow, work with a variety of loan pricing engines including Mortech.

The iPad and iPhone mobile apps include an affordability calculator that uses user-entered annual income, monthly debts, down payment amount and interest rates to help consumers determine what mortgages and terms they can afford.

Although the Trulia Mortgage Center does not differ significantly from other online mortgage rate comparison tools, it adds a more complete home shopping service to Trulia’s users, of whom more than 50 percent have not been prequalified for a mortgage, said Lee Clancy, vice president of consumer products at Trulia.

Trulia — which filed papers last month with securities regulators for a planned initial public offering of shares worth up to $75 million — would not disclose how many lenders are participating on the site or what the terms are for their participation.

Mortgage lenders that show up frequently in mortgage rate searches on Trulia include First Financial Services Inc., BNC National Bank, West Star Mortgage Inc., Box Home Loans, CapWest Mortgage, North American Savings Bank, RoundPoint Mortgage Co., RMC Vanguard Mortgage and First Choice Bank.

IPad screen shot of Trulia Mortgage Center’s Affordability Calculator. 

For Zillow’s comparable tool — Zillow Mortgage Marketplace, launched in April 2008 — lenders pay a fee only when a user contacts them; lenders can also advertise via cost-per-click ads and display ads. Zillow’s tool now generates nearly 1 million consumer loan requests a month, according to the company.

Late last year, Zillow began powering rate quotes at AOL Real Restate, which also drives borrowers to partner and Zillow rival Move Inc., operator of Realtor.com.

Google launched a similar consumer mortgage comparison service in 2009, which became part of Google Advisor last year. Google has since shut down its mortgage comparison service without explanation, Search Engine Watch reported in February.

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