Saturday, May 31, 2008

More on Google Merchant Search

I searched for a secured loan tonight on and gained access to Google Merchant Search where I was able to apply for a secured loan, selecting the amount of 100,000GBP as the amount.

Next I landed on a list of lenders and was able to refine terms of my request and select a lender.

After selecting terms and choosing a lender, I entered my contact information.

Finally, I received the below confirmation email:

Google Merchant Search to me
show details 11:43 PM (11 minutes ago) Reply

Dear Paul Knag,

Thank you for submitting your quote request to Google Merchant Search.
You asked to be contacted by Chase Zengo. Your details are below.

Name: Paul Knag
Phone Number: 845-XXX-XXXX
Contact Time: Any time
Loan amount: £100000
Loan period: 5 years
Credit profile: Good
Are you currently paying a mortgage? Yes

A Google operator will call you to connect you to Chase Zengo. If
we're unable to reach you, we will leave a message with Chase Zengo's
freephone number for you to call.

If you are not the intended recipient of this email, or if you wish to
cancel this request, please notify us by replying to this email and
quoting reference ID 9573016.

The Google Merchant Search Team

Google's privacy policy for the product is located here

Friday, May 30, 2008

Google Launches Own Mortgage Lead Generation Effort

First spotted today by search engine bloggers here, here and here Google is testing a new product (in the UK), called Google Merchant Search, which seems to offer lead generation for financial services directly. The system blends a varation of the click to call product they have previously tested, with a comparison rate-table offering most similar to Interestingly it does not include (but clearly could include) the qualification form approach of traditional mortgage lead generation, as practiced by companies like Nextag or LendingTree.

The click to call program works a little differently than expected by offering consumers a contact-me form, utilizing Google's technology to connect a call between lender and consumer not immediately, but seemly at a later time when the lender is prepared, yet anonymously, without passing on caller-id info to the lender.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Blue Chip Expert Spam

Over the past 30 days I have receive many emails from present and past colleagues and friends inviting me to join a recruitment website calle "Blue Chip Expert" The Email reads as follows:

Hi Paul,

I just joined Blue Chip Expert and wanted to invite you to join as well.

Blue Chip Expert is an invitation-only career site focused on professionals with excellent qualifications. It's confidential, completely free to join and use, and only takes a few minutes to join.

Also, every time a person you invite is hired you earn a referral fee which you can either keep or direct to your favorite non-profit. Referral fees can really add up as they are paid on three levels of referral for ten years.

There's a lot more to it - check it out at:

Best as always,

This, in my opinion is one of the worst perversions of "social" web technology. It is a recruitment website which enables members to earn commissions on recruitment fees earned when someone they recommended to the website takes a job.

It presents itself as an exclusive, membership only site, when in reality it is a social network marketing scheme.

Count me out, and please don't send me any more form invitations.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Kathleen Heck Finds The Humor At Work

Kathleen Heck gave me my first job in the mortgage business, as a Loan Officer for PNC Mortgage in Wayne, NJ back in 1995. She was also my colleague at American Home Mortgage for several years until our untimely end in August of 2007. Not only was she open minded enough to give a long-haired 23 year old me a job over 10 years ago, she continues to be an inspiration to me and undoubtedly many others like me who have been fortunate enough to be associated with her in business.

Her new book, After the Beep lets anyone interested share in her fun-loving point of view. Taken, evidently from actual voicemails, memos, emails, IVRs and other communication instruments of corporate life, Heck humorously fictionalizes the content, but anyone who has worked in the corporate workplace will instantly recognize their authenticity. Awkward HR memorandums, slapstick voicemail misunderstandings, and my personal favorite, a letter from a drunk mortgage CEO announcing the demise of his company, rife with misspelled words.

Perfect for a plane ride, it is a short and hilarious read. Reading it got me upset about all the fun I've been missing since I left corporate life...Not! Funny memories, thanks Kathleen.

Buy After the Beep at

Monday, May 05, 2008

580 Minimum FICO: FHA Reform, So What?

The House Financial Services Committe, chaired by Barney Frank (D, MA) approved the FHA Housing Stabilization and Homeownership Retention Act of 2008. A full House vote on the bill is expected next week. Much has been covered about the contents of the bill. In an attempt to help "at risk" homeowners, it roughly extends the authority of FHA insurable loans to about double what it is today.

The real question is, so what? Regardless of the Democrat's plans for government mortgage rescue, the secondary market is having none of it, and the very borrowers who are intended to be helped, are being eschewed by investors wary of poor quality(wasn't FHA the OLD subprime?)as subprime focused originators nationwide rapidly transform themselves into newfangled FHA shops.

Since April 1, finding any end investor to purchase FHA insured loans with FICOs under 580 is a fool's errand, regardless of the current or potentially expanded FHA underwriting guidelines (which allow, under certain circumstances, approvals for sub 580 FICOs).

Found a solution to this problem? Let us know!