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The Mortgage Transparency Train Has Arrived

Real Estate Technology with BoomTown

The Mortgage Transparency Train Has Arrived…

Anyone who’s read my writings either here at Active Rain or on my ‘outside’ blog The XBroker over the past 18 months knows I’m a pretty opinionated guy when it comes to how traditional mortgage (and real estate industry) business works.  It’s probably safe to say that I’m an outspoken critic too, but that’s because I’m very passionate about my beliefs and convictions. Although I’ve had my share of ‘run-ins’ and probably made a few adversaries along the way (as well as many many friends), my intent has always been to spur thought and compel the industries I was deeply involved with into embracing change for the betterment of all. 

My rants typically revolve around the need for greater transparency …radical transparency…in the mortgage industry, centered around the belief that consumers and real estate agents should be afforded unabated access to wholesale direct, unmanipulated mortgage rates and their actual costs.   In my opinion, this information was too valuable to be kept in a vault or subjected to a conflicted 3rd parties idea of what they thought a consumer should see and be sold.  So I decided to do something about it…

On Monday June 14th 2008 at 2pm PST I (rather) quietly launched a website and product called RateSpeed.

The easiest way to explain this, is to ask myself some questions:

What is it? 
  An anonymous, automated, transparent, mortgage program and interest rate pricing pre-qualification Search Engine widget, thingy.
Why is this important? For the first time anyone can transparently access wholesale direct mortgage interest rates and program quotes without having to talk to a licensed mortgage professional first.  Yep, this is important to a lot of people. 

How is this possible?  RateSpeed is a completely objective, non-conflicted 3rd party piece of software, so we configure and maintain the flow of mortgage rate and price information between the consumer and the wholesale direct source to insure it’s 100% transparent.
This is the most important value proposition RateSpeed has to offer both consumers and professionals. Maintaining the integrity and purity of the information flow between the wholesale market and the consumers eyeballs open’s a clear channel where consumers can shop for a mortgage based on service and experience rather than ‘What’s my rate?’  Since you get to see exactly the same information a broker or banker does, you never have to wonder if they can really ‘do better’. 

So, you’re trying to put the mortgage professional out of business?   No, RateSpeed is a licensable piece of software that is embeddable on a qualified mortgage professionals web or blog-site. The good mortgage pro stays where they should be, firmly in the middle of the transaction to offer advice and close the loan.  We do require the mo-pro to offer a flat fee for service to the consumers who want to retain their services via their RateSpeed application.  How much this flat fee is, is completely up to the mortgage professional. 

So, you’re a lead generator?   No and Yes.  No we don’t buy or sell leads.  Yes we create leads for the mortgage professional by offering consumers the confidence of knowing the information they see is 100% transparent and deliverable from this professional, so when they are done shopping they’re buying from this professional. 

Why is this different again?   You know the drill: A consumer or real estate professional needs a rate quote they have to call or go online and ‘shop’ a bunch of mortgage professionals hoping to find the lowest rate at the lowest cost. Shopping for clothes may be fun, but shopping for a mortgage is a confusing, frustrating, inefficient, and very COSTLY process for both the consumer and mortgage professional. Neither one trusts the other to provide good information; everyone kinda looks at each other with that suspicious evil eye. 

This is where RateSpeed steps in, kind of like e-Harmony, using ‘19 dimensions of credit, property, and financial compatibility’, RateSpeed automatically matches consumers with a program, rate, price as well as a trustworthy ‘date’ to accompany them to the closing table.

Consumers: Shop as much as you like without having to talk to a person, contact the mo-pro when you see the rate and price you like and are ready to do buisness. 

Mortgage Professionals: Get shopped all day long without having to talk to every ‘tire kicker’. Spend more time helping your current clients.  The consumer who does contact you likes what they see and is ready to share some thoughts and explore a deeper relationship.  Think about it, you get really cool mortgage rate trending data, a customized rate pricing aggregator, a consumer shopping assistant, and a quality organic lead generation application all in one...smashing!

Real Estate Professionals:  Contact your mortgage professional, tell them to get on the RateSpeed program and that you want a RateSpeed thingy on your site, we can embed the application for you too with their consent.   While all the data goes back to the mortgage professional, you can represent to your potential and current clients that the mortgage rate quotes they get from RateSpeed on your site are the most accurate and transparent in the marketplace.  What’s better is that you know that any of your clients who retain your RateSpeed licensed broker or banker are going to be in good hands, which typically means less headache for you. 

What’s next?  I’m looking for 10 licensed mortgage professional beta testers from Active Rain to pioneer hosting RateSpeed on their sites, for free.  I’m not looking for just anyone, I’m looking for the mortgage professionals who can provide constructive criticism and sound suggestions, for they will have a say in new functionality features that go into future iterations of RateSpeed, and be credited with such.  I’m not 100% on exactly how to select the 10 members, and so working with Bob to come up with something cool.  There are huge early adopter advantages here ‘wink-wink’…

In closing, I know I’ve waded deep into the waters of self-promotion here but I’ve put in my time, blogging almost 500 pages of material over the last 18 months to give and gain the invaluable advice from the collective wisdom of this and other wise crowds.  The exchanges weren’t always pleasant but I learned a little something from every one of them. There was a much different plan in the beginning for RateSpeed, it was from the feedback I received in many forms from many members of Active Rain that fostered and molded what RateSpeed has ultimately come to be.  For this I’m very grateful and just too excited to share, so I’m willing to risk sounding a little too promotional.  That and I think this product/service can help change the mortgage industry for the better, for everyone.  :)


Jim Gilly


How soon before you expect to have the site fully operational where consumers can start getting actual quotes from those participating in your program? 

Will your site provide the ability to click on a state and see a list of the brokers/lenders in the program serving that area with a link to their website as an option?

Jun 27, 2008 09:03 PM
David Keller


Interesting and compelling. (The RateSpeed site.)

I can tell you first-off, its big bold black and white motif (RateSpeed splash page/home page)

needs a more appealing color motif; the black x white thing is far too pirate-flag like and

tends to put people off rather quickly. Solution: slightly dark blue x white (letters) would

solve it. It's a web-fact that Microsoft or eBay blue-type color formats are more successful with

the public, and that black is uninspired, self-limiting and inherently puts people off.

Apart from that, you've got great concept, to-the-point; both timely and necessary.

To gain more advocates to your Cause however, Make It More Friendly!

Jun 28, 2008 05:34 PM
Jeff Corbett
BoomTown - Charleston, SC

Jim...July 15 is our target date...

David...Thx for the feedback, it is well received!  The site will undergo a series of evolutions as we begin to enter the market.  We began with a 'compelling' consumer centric theme but will graduate to more friendly digs very soon.  Marketing the benefits of the application to consumers, real estate pros and mortgage professionals with messaging that speaks to each of their respective needs is quite a task and a fine line to walk. Fortunately the application stands to benefit all parties who understand what RateSpeed can do for them personally.  IMO this can be a win-win-win for everyone.


Jul 01, 2008 06:12 AM
Catalyst Mortgage

Whoa! Just got done reading through all of the comments (we'll most of them). I personally lean towards the views of Mid Atlantic, not withstanding the way he presented his view. I am not one to attack anyone or a business for sticking it out there.

... however, after going to RateSpeed I still don't see the transparency. Maybe Jeff is showing something different to this 25 beta testers. But right now I have no way to verfiy the rates, etc that is returned. The process as of now, might change on July 15 (we'll see and I am hoping it does) as this is no different than mortgagemarvel.com

1) Fill out the loan criteria form. Nothing earth shattering here, but it looks like it was designed for a mortgage professional and not a consumer. There is a reason short-form lead generation sites are so succesfull (think low.com, bills.com, lowermybills.com, etc)

2) Confirm the information I have entered. Again nothing earth shattering here. Might of been a good time to pre-qualify the criteria, tell me what is wrong. Otherwise this is a pointless screen.

3) The results. Now this is where it gets interesting. I am presented with rates yet I don't know who the lender or wholeseller is behind them. When I click "Buy Now" I get some message saying my infomration has been sent... sent to who? As a consumer this is not transparent nor very reassuring. So if I were kicking the tires I would feel mislead... where did my infomration go? albeit just an email that is still my personal information that for all I know has been sold... let's get on the spam train...

Interesting thing about the Lender Stable of ratespeed (http://ratespeed.com/2008/06/13/the-ratespeed-lender-stable/). Now I am not sure how well funded Jeff and RateSpeed is or how many people he has on staff... but I find it really hard to believe that he maintains rates, adjustment and guideline data for 50+ lenders as one person yet has time to solicite for 15 minute phone calls from everyone. I think this is where Jeff owes it to us to be transparent about his business... he does say he is transparent right?...
how is this information entered? Is he using another PPE such as Nylx (much like RateWindow)? Does he have a partnership with a data aggregator? Does he license Nasa supercomputers to crawl the data?

The cost, I saw somewhere that RateSpeed is monthly fee and a setup fee. Whey isn't this information on the Ratespeed website... why must I dig through blog post and comments to get the information important to a potential buyer... if this beta say that on your website or signup form... again don't mislead people.

Jul 03, 2008 03:15 AM
Jeff Corbett
BoomTown - Charleston, SC

Catalyst...Thx for your professionalism.

Answering your questions in order:

RateSpeed is different than mortgagemarvel in that we do not allow mortgage professionals to augment, manipulate or inflate rates or pricing in a any way.  Last I looked mortgage marvel was simply an advertising platform for mortgage companies to redisplay what rates they see fit and does not include many risk-based pricing factors that go into an accurate rate quote.

The process shall evolve by July 15th.  Since you're apparently in the industry, so you may easily check the results against your wholesale ratesheets to compare pricing.

1) The form (which is far from 'sexy' we're already into 2nd gen UI dev) considers important risk-based pricing factors that go into accurate rate and price quotes...a 'short-form' would yield short sighted answers.

2) Yeah, this will evolve with 2nd gen UI. 

3) Actual wholesale lenders do not appear for consumers for 2 main reasons: 1) We don't want consumers seeing a wholesale price quote from say Countrywide Wholesale then calling Countrywide retail or another broker for that matter.  Since the rates displayed via a mo-pro's individual ratespeed application are configured to their wholesale lenders, only that mortgage professional can deliver the rates shown.  2)  Many wholesale lenders have no retail division.  The RateSpeed licensed mortgage professional receives all the wholesalers information on their side, which they may then disclose to the consumer. 

Right now, the application is just running on ratespeed, so no mortgage professional will be calling anyone.  The mortgage professional who runs ratespeed on theor site will have a custom message stating that they will be contacting the consumer and have their contact info provided. 

Your email was not and will not be sold to anyone, the email goes into a secure server.  The version you are kicking the tires on even lets you put in a fake email address with no validation/confirmation.  In any case no one will receive any spam or unsolicited communication period.

RateSpeed is well funded (we dont have money for wallpaper, but...) I have 6 people on staff and personally have 15 minutes for anyone who would like to discuss RateSpeed.  We have an exclusive partnership with a company called Loan Runner and custom configured archtecture that rivals NASA super computer clusters, since they do crawl gimungus amounts of data using proprietary processes that no other PPE is currently capable of. 

We havent released our final price points yet, as we gather feedback from our client users.  In the footer of the application you will find 'Beta v1.0'.  We're getting ready to update our homesite, this as well as other important information will be more prominently displayed. 

Thanks for your feedback and please keep checking back.


Jul 03, 2008 04:22 AM
Aaron Johnson
Tri City Home Team / The Force Realty - Richland, WA
Join The Home Team!


I've been reading your blogging since you first hit the etherwave and, right from the start, asked myself "he's from Irvine??!!" My first 4 years in the business were after moving from Washington state to SoCal and going to work for a small regional lender there. It didn't take me long to realize I might have gotten into the wrong business.

Unlike in the realty business, the larger the loan didn't translate into the more effort to close the financing. I couldn't understand why anyone felt the need to ripoff the client by getting 2-4 points on the back. All these young guys around me laughing their asses off at making 4 points on a $450k loan! I went to work for a huge national lender house that screamed about credibility- and found things were no different. I was shocked at meeting with realtors with 15 years in the business who had never had YSP explained to them, who had no idea it could be used for their clients' benefit, and showed them that without the YSP I could qualify their clients for a heck of a lot more home (meaning more commission to them).

Transparency should be industry-wide. I can't believe the bankers aren't required to disclose on the GFE and then they lobby like crazy to make sure brokers do, only to then use it to try to convince the public the brokers are obviously ripping them off because they are getting the YSP!

So, with this new "prequalification Search Engine widget thingy", I feel the need to bow down towards your Mecca in Irvine and light a candle at your altar!

I won't pretend to be enough of a mortgage industry expert to be part of your initial beta-testers. But please count me in on the top of the list of people to adopt it when you are ready to launch it to the world!

In stupefied admiration- Aaron 


Jul 08, 2008 05:14 PM
Myrl Jeffcoat
Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Realtor - Retired

Jeff - Those are some rather brilliant observations you've made there Kiddo!

Jul 08, 2008 06:14 PM
Richard Baggett
AFI Mortgage - Lake Charles, LA

I am in the mortgage industry, housed in Louisiana.  Whats this going to do for or to me?

Aug 07, 2008 07:51 AM
Seth Callen
Layered Artwork XChange - Oklahoma City, OK

In a past life I was a mortgage broker and I totally agree with you.  This would eliminate a lot of useless fumbling around and bring some more integrity to the industry.

Aug 18, 2008 12:45 PM
Michael Wolff
Wolff Financial Services - Encino, CA
Your Total Mortgage Advisor!

Maybe I didnt read your site all the way through... A few thoughts:


1. Rates are not solely based on Credit score, Income and LTV.  How would people who need help re-structuring tax returns, itemization, depreciation or even those who own multiple business entitites benefit?  Would a Broker deserve to earn more on a loan sifting through 2 years tax returns of an entrepreneur than a loan with a sole borrower with 1 job providing a W2?

2. What about programs that arent on typical rate sheets? Niche products for the borrowers who dont fit in vanilla guidelines?

3. Pricing is also different in different parts of the country...

4. A transparent computer based system wont be able to properly analyze credit reports for red flags OR know when a condo project is not FHA approved or non-warrantable.  Started a new job 14 months ago in a completely different line of work? Client has assets under their mattress? Maybe their bank account has 5 co-signers on it but they still think they can claim 100% of the balance to qualify?

Perhaps this system works for the people who have excellent credit, superfluous income and assets who are prepared to either put 20-30% down or have at least this much in equity, i.e. the Vanilla loans.  But for those that need the personal touch of a Mortgage Professional should ask a friend or Realtor for a referral of a trusted Broker.


Michael Wolff


Aug 22, 2008 05:32 AM
Team Honeycutt
Allen Tate - Concord, NC

Alot of food for thought, I will continue to follow your work.

Sep 21, 2008 07:25 AM
Samuel Stovall
Intercounty Mortgage Network/S2K2 Partners NMLS #219374 - Princeton, NJ
No One Does It Better, No One!

Jeff - How is the project going so far. I have been to the web site and it looks good. Keep us in the loop on that.. Thanks..


Samuel Stovall


Ewing, NJ

Jan 06, 2009 04:52 AM
Richard Stabile
Re/Max Real Estate Limited - Oradell, NJ
Bergen County New Homes Builder Realtor


Did you get a mortgage person, company to do this.

If not let me know, I will try to get my company to do it.


Jan 14, 2009 12:29 PM
David Coffman
Exit Realty 1st Choice - Tucson, AZ

The changes made will not make things more transparent. In fact there are so many loopholes that I believe it will make more problems.

Jan 23, 2009 08:45 AM
Charles Fischer
Housing Market Realty - Merritt Island, FL
Professional Real Estate Services

Great concept, will check it out.  The " mo bro" business needs some clarity and transparency as you say, and this seems to be a good solution.  Even with a little shameless self-promotion, as you say.  great work.

Jan 30, 2009 02:20 AM
Malisa Spivey
Key Real Estate Services & Property Management - Lorena, TX
My Opinions are Free and I Freely give them.

Great news and I will be sending this link to all of my Mo Pro's.  Thank you for sharing!

Feb 27, 2009 02:57 AM
Sandy Childs
Keller Williams Realty - Spartanburg, SC
Realtor - Spartanburg, SC

This has been waaay past interesting! Can't wait to see how it unfolds and eventually how it continues then finally how it ends.

Mar 20, 2009 12:29 PM
Melissa Zavala
Broadpoint Properties - Escondido, CA
Broker, Escondido Real Estate, San Diego County

Congratulations on creating such a cool site. Thanks for sharing (plugging) it!

Apr 12, 2009 02:12 AM
Daniel Seider
BTRE Big Trees Real Estate - Arnold, CA

I love the idea of rate speed. The idea of being upfront with everything in the mortgage industry has come. You are at the forefront. Please let me know how I could be involved.

Dan Seider

Newkey Home Mortgage

Apr 14, 2009 12:00 PM
Sara Goss
HatmakerGroup.com GMAC Real Estate - League City, TX
Realtor - Houston Bay Area, Texas

Thanks for acting on your desire to have more mortgage transparancy. Watching the fees come and go during the final days of a transaction has left me wondering at times. And, pre-paids? Hmmm.

Apr 22, 2009 03:25 AM