If you’re shopping for a new mortgage, there is now another option out there. The Zillow Mortgage Marketplace attempts to make connecting borrowers and lenders as effortless as typing a search on Google. Will it work?
Application: Less Nosy, But More Responsibility
While shopping for loans, I had two big worries. One, I didn’t want to give out my Social Security number to everyone. Two, I didn’t want 100 desperate brokers calling me all day long “fighting” for my business. No problem with Zillow, you only need to fill out a application with your property details, your credit score, your income, and your assets. This is all the information that a loan officer needs to provide you a quote.
To see your loan offers, all you need to do is sign up with an e-mail address. No SSN, no name, no address, no telephone.
But you really want to avoid painting a rosier picture than reality, which is what most people tend to do. If your info is wrong, then the lender’s quote is null and void, and everyone’s time was wasted. Check your credit score beforehand, ideally at all three credit bureaus. It’s one thing to say you make $X per year, it is another thing to prove it. For a full-documentation loan, you need to have two years of W-2 forms, your last tax return, and your most recent bank statements. They will want everything! I’d even say it’s a good idea to pull these up before filling out this form.
Comparing Bids and Feedback Ratings
Participating lenders are supposedly verified to make sure they are licensed brokers without excessive complaints filed against them. Bids are also required to be specifically tailored to your loan, not just generic rate instantly created by a computer. In addition, Zillow is adding a feedback system (like eBay) where you can help determine the reputation of lenders (service, extra fees, if they bait-and-switch, etc.). The system is probably too new for this to matter right now, but hopefully it’ll help in the future.
I submitted an application today for a home equity loan, but I haven’t gotten any bids yet. However, I do like that all the loan quotes will be organized in the same format, so you can compare loan offers side-by-side easily. Sometimes it’s a puzzle to figure out all the lender’s fees in Good Faith Estimates.
Finally, lenders will be able to see what other lenders have been offering you. This gives them a chance to see their competition, and even lower their initial bids. I don’t see anything wrong with that. Once you pick out a lender to contact, then they will see your e-mail and you can move forward with the loan.
I couldn’t find any information about how Zillow is making their profit from this. I’m assuming they will charge a fee per lead or per closed mortgage.
More info: Zillow Press Release
By Jonathan Ping | Real Estate | 4/8/08, 5:01am