REDMOND, Wash., Mar. 16, 2000 — Microsoft today joined forces with Freddie Mac, Chase Manhattan, GMAC-Residential Funding Corp., Norwest Mortgage and Bank of America to form HomeAdvisor Technologies, Inc., a company that today announced groundbreaking new technology to streamline and improve the way homes are bought and sold, shaving weeks off of the mortgage closing process, and saving consumers more than $2,000 per loan. PressPass spoke with Bryan Mistele, general manager of HomeAdvisor Technologies, to find out what consumers, lenders and real estate professionals can expect from this new venture.
PressPass: What led Microsoft to form this joint venture between HomeAdvisor and its partners?
Mistele: If you think about the real-estate industry, it’s incredibly complex. On average, about 65 people touch every transaction every time a home is bought or sold. Fundamentally, the process hasn’t changed in over 50 years. It still takes months to close on a house, several thousand dollars in transaction costs, and reams and reams of paper to do it all. The industry is just now beginning to see technology impact the process.
Over the past year and a half, HomeAdvisor has provided tremendous information and value to consumers. But with the help of the industry’s top companies, we could do much more. In order to fundamentally change the process of getting a mortgage and a home, you have to work very tightly with partners who know the industry and can drive the volume. So we created HomeAdvisor Technologies, Inc. to combine Microsoft’s technology and consumer-marketing expertise with the deep industry experience, relationships and loan volumes of Freddie Mac, Chase Manhattan, GMAC-RFC, Norwest Mortgage and Bank of America. Microsoft and its partners will bring together tools, technology and equity into HomeAdvisor Technologies to become the consumer and business-to-business category leader in the real-estate and lending industries.
PressPass: How will the company’s new loan platform benefit consumers and industry partners alike?
Mistele: We’re tying together underwriting engines, credit reporting engines and title information as well as consumer and pricing information — brought together electronically to deliver faster and cheaper mortgages. As a result, this new process will save the average homebuyer more than $2,000 per loan, enable them to instantly lock a real loan rate online, and cut the closing process from more than a month to just 10 days. The platform also will eliminate many of the closing costs associated with mortgages today. This platform will be customized for, and distributed to, banks, lenders, and real-estate and mortgage professionals as part of a suite of enterprise software tools.
PressPass: What are the three divisions within HomeAdvisor Technologies, Inc., and what purpose will each serve?
Mistele: The first division, HomeAdvisor.com, is focused on giving consumers the best and most comprehensive information related to the home. The new site will help consumers with every aspect of buying, financing, moving, maintaining, improving and selling their home. The Transaction Platform Division will deliver tools to streamline and automate all aspects of the mortgage and real-estate transaction, saving consumers money while eliminating paperwork and red tape. The Productivity Tools Division, is focused on desktop tools for the real-estate professional — built around the Microsoft ClearLead platform — to help them grow their business profitably and better serve their customers, while also enabling industry professionals to fully utilize customized versions of the products developed by the Transaction Platform Division.
PressPass: How will the formation of this new company benefit consumers?
Mistele: First, by streamlining much of the real-estate process, we’re giving consumers faster and less expensive ways to buy a home, all in one fully integrated Web site. The new version of HomeAdvisor.com — released next month — will be greatly expanded to address every home-related decision that consumers make in their lifetime. The new site will make it quick and easy for consumers to make smart home-related decisions and take action online on everything from home buying, financing, moving and relocation to selling, decorating, remodeling and more.
PressPass: How do brokers and the real-estate industry benefit?
Mistele: HomeAdvisor Technologies Inc. remains committed to providing the tools and resources necessary for real-estate professionals to take full advantage of the Internet. HomeAdvisor.com already sends real-estate agents and brokers nationwide 13 times as many customer leads as other leading real-estate Web sites. With the launch of Realty Desktop, its first productivity tool, HomeAdvisor Technologies now also gives brokers specific tools to manage their prospects and keep track of each relationship and transaction, helping brokers build customers for life. All three divisions of HomeAdvisor Technologies will continue to build innovative tools and services for real-estate professionals.