Thursday, October 29, 2009

Google Backed Mortgages

LeadCritic posted earlier today on the Comparison Ads announcement.

What I find interesting is this quote from the Google post:
AdWords uses a host of targeting and relevancy signals to determine the best ads for each query. However, sometimes a user's query doesn't provide enough information for us to confidently predict what they want. Take, for example, users who search for "mortgage." Do they want a new home loan or a refinance? Do they want a fixed rate or an adjustable rate loan? Comparison Ads improves the ad experience on by letting users specify exactly what they are looking for and helping them quickly compare relevant offers side by side.

Conventional wisdom has it that product-generic "head" keyword searches for terms like "mortgages", or "DVD Players" for that matter, indicate individuals who are early (if at all) in a buying process.

Conventional wisdom also has it that product specific "tail" keyword searches for terms like "30 year fixed rate refinance Texas", or "Samsung bdp-3600 dvd player" indicates a buyer who is more likely ready to transact. Thus, these keywords are usually more costly on a per-click basis within Adwords.

Search engine users Search, Find, Learn and then Search more specifically as they become more educated and intentional.

Comparison Ads will attempt to earn Google better $ than it currently does on these low-value generic keywords.

Google, with its own gigantic brand, and some new attention to privacy concerns, will launch a Product Ads offer on the Mortgage vertical which is no more sophisticated than a rate table. Will this accelerate this search, find, learn, search process, help users and earn Google more money than it has been?

ie. Can Google do it in a way that is materially better than what their Adwords advertisers are already doing?

Is it worth the hassle of state licensing, of policing lenders who offer unrealistic "bait and switch" pricing?

And the real question: Is it better to get a response phone call from a loan officer at 10:34pm (as I just did -- despite my note to "Call Tomorrow") when you know that Google was responsible for this call, and not LendingTree, LowerMyBills, BankRate and the rest of the Gang?

Yes, its probably better.

If so, perhaps they will soon stand behind the DVD Player I want to order online, the online college classes I want to sign-up for, the home security system I'm shopping for. I'd rather buy from Google. (ditto Bing, Ask...)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Google Mortgage Comparison Service

I wrote about the idea of Google offering a direct to consumer mortgage comparison service over a year ago. Loads of media coverage on this.

9 years ago Microsoft beat similar drums, word around the industry was that Microsoft was going to automate the lending process putting all of us out of business. Ballmer got on a big call to announce it, and then, well, nothing. The effort bombed.

Actually, something good happened for me. Our team at American Home Mortgage/MortgageSelect circa 2001 was able to score a long term deal for the traffic that continued to flow from the abandoned/failed HomeAdvisor effort. Even more valuable than the traffic deal to us was the opportunity for all to learn more about the best approach at the time to internet loan originations.

Certainly there will be an entirely different future ahead for Google's service, but the focus should still be on what can be gained and learned. Zillow, now Google's efforts will improve the vertical. 9 years later, it is still only very small fraction of consumers who actually use the companies they find on the internet, to fund their home loans.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Troubled Mortgage CEO Rhetoric Gives Clues To Problems?

An interesting study was reported by the Omaha World Herald. According to the article, a report published in the journal Corporate Reputation Review, concluded that word style in corporate communication to shareholders could classify corporate reputation as either low or high within an accuracy level of 81%.

The Corporate Reputation Review is associated with the Reputation Institute, a private company which provides consulting services to companies wishing to manage and measure their reputation.

Interestingly the report uses American Home Mortgage Investment Corp's CEO Michael Strauss as an example. The company (and my former employer), filed for bankruptcy protection in 2007. John Geppert, one of the report's authors, said that Strauss' letter used a word style which demonstrated little concreteness and a high degree of complexity, attributes associated with low-reputation firms.

Friday, May 08, 2009

I Ditched My IPhone

I ditched my iPhone, in favor of a T-Mobile Blackberry 8900. The iphone is sleek toy and superior to the 8900 only its interface to play music and video. Still, I have 16Gigs of memory on my 8900 which will hold much more video for a lower price than the iPhone.

The major downside of the iphone became apparent to me after a few months of use, the very inferior email interface, the lock-in to AT&T service.

Anyone who makes a living based on response time to emailed contacts must agree, the blackberry is a far superior device.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Lenders Top of Mind: Obama, Loan Modifications, FHA, and Other Concerns for 2009

5. Obama. Good or Bad For mortgage industry? According to a New York Times article today he plans to tighten regulation on mortgage brokers, although the article doesn't go into specifics.
4. Loan Modifications: Largely unregulated cottage industry could be a boon for helping unqualified refinance applicants find a different path to mortgage relief. Bad actors taking fees or deposits without providing benefit, present a challenge.
3. FHA. The FHA will continue to ascend as a safe haven and lender of choice for the industry. FHA limits will likely be increased again to 2008 levels
2. Wholesale Lending. With #1 wholesaler Chase out of the game, the options become even slimmer for mortgage brokers.
1. Home Values. Afraid to look at your 401(k) balance? Delete that automated Zillow Zestimate before opening it. Many believe that home values will continue to languish until 2010.