Sindeo, a mortgage marketplace that arms consumers with insights into costs and fees to help them plan, qualify and shop for a mortgage with multiple lenders, has hired Trulia’s Ginger Wilcox as chief industry officer as the company prepares to launch a new service for real estate professionals.
Wilcox — the third Trulia vet to jump ship for Sindeo in the last year — said Sindeo is building co-branded tools that will help real estate agents work with buyers early in the home shopping process to determine how much house they can afford and then to qualify for a loan.
Once a loan application has been submitted, Sindeo also gives borrowers and their agents visibility into the closing process, heading off unexpected surprises and helping agents win referrals and repeat business from satisfied clients, Wilcox said.
Agents, brokerages of all sizes and franchisors have all expressed interest in the “Sindeo for Pros” offering, which is slated to launch in the first half of this year, Wilcox said.
“The model we’re looking at is very different,” Wilcox said. Although Sindeo offers a wealth of online tools, it’s more than an online mortgage company, she said. Sindeo employs licensed “mortgage advisers” who are paid a salary, a flat fee for every loan they close, and quarterly customer satisfaction bonuses equal to up to 10 percent of their annual salary. Once Sindeo begins partnering with real estate agents, agent customer satisfaction scores will be part of the equation, Wilcox said.
Sindeo is a mortgage originator, submitting loan applications to the lenders that actually fund the loan, with lenders paying Sindeo up to 1.25 percent of the value of mortgages they approve.
Currently providing services in California, Sindeo plans to open a new office in Redwood City next month before expanding into other states in the second half of the year.
“There are mortgage marketplaces out there that revolve around advertising,” said Sindeo CEO Nick Stamos. “That’s not what we’re doing. We’re bringing transparency and tools” to the process of shopping, getting prequalified and preapproved for a loan.
Launched in 2013 by Stamos and Ori Zohar, San Francisco-based Sindeo now employs about three dozen workers, and has partnerships in place about the same number of lenders.
Employees including Chris Conway, who joined Trulia in 2007 when the company had fewer than 40 workers. Conway headed up product management for Trulia before joining Sindeo in March as senior vice president of product. Keith Louie, Trulia’s director of business development until November 2012, joined Sindeo last fall as vice president of partnerships.
Sindeo announced several additions to its management team today.
In addition to Wilcox — who is credited with building and growing Trulia’s channel marketing and partnership programs — Sindeo has hired Brad Lensing, formerly the chief marketing officer at peer-to-peer lending site Prosper Marketplace, to fill that role for Sindeo.
Andy Carra, a veteran of SoFi and LearnVest, is the company’s new chief technology officer.
Jobe Danganan, an attorney who’s worked for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the U.S. Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, has joined Sindeo as the company’s general counsel and chief compliance officer.
Danganan, the company said, “has dedicated his career to informing and protecting consumers during financial transactions and will focus on making the mortgage process simpler and more transparent at Sindeo.”
The CFPB is responsible for enforcing the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), which prohibits companies that provide settlement services from paying kickbacks to those in a position to refer business to them, including real estate brokers and agents.
Stamos acknowledged that it’s important for Sindeo to understand the regulatory environment in building partnerships with real estate brokerages, builders and other potential partners.
Wilcox said Sindeo is all about providing consumers with a choice, and access to all loan types. “Having Jobe on board is a huge part of that — making sure all our partnership agreements are RESPA-compliant.”
Last fall, a Michigan-based title company agreed to pay $200,000 to settle allegations that marketing services agreements it entered into with real estate brokers and other companies violated RESPA.
More recently, a Zillow employee claims in a lawsuit that the company turned a blind eye to an alleged “pay for play” arrangement between lenders and real estate agents participating in Zillow’s co-marketing program.
Just last week, the CFPB announced that Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase had agreed to pay $35.7 million to settle allegations that loan officers at the companies steered thousands of mortgage borrowers to a Maryland-based title company in exchange for kickbacks in the form of valuable marketing services and cash.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to provide more information on Sindeo’s business model, its compensation of loan advisers, and to correct that Chris Conway was director of product management for Trulia before joining Sindeo.