Would you use SmartHippo.com? Why/Why not?

Mortgage and Lending with SmartHippo

This is not meant to be a self-promotional post, but I'm looking for honest feedback from mortgage professionals to help us make improvements to our site and since so many are on Active Rain, I think it's a good place to pose this...

SmartHippo.com is an online comparison shopping site that uses the power of community to help people save money on mortgages. Lenders are encouraged to create a profile and post rates, which are fed in our database, and will appear in our search results. As well consumers can rate and review lenders and those with positive ratings can rise to the top of search results and can enjoy other benefits (i.e. Increased traffic) by being featured on our home page.

Now, knowing that, I'd love if you would answer this quick, one-question poll: Would you use SmartHippo.com?

OR if you're a realtor, would you refer clients to SmartHippo?

And secondly, if you have some time, I'd appreciate it if you would poke around our site for a few minutes and provide any feedback, for example, what features would you like to see? What info would you want to be able to add to your profile? What's your overall impression of the site? etc. etc. etc. You can either post a comment here, or email me directly: kelly(at)smarthippo.com

We are aiming to create a mortgage shopping site that is both beneficial for consumers and lenders, so your feedback is greatly appreciated! And if I can return the favor in any way, I'm happy to.



Kelly Rusk
Community Manager

Comments (6)

Mary Yonkers
Alan Kells School of Real Estate/Howard Hanna Real Estate - Erie, PA
Erie/PA Real Estate Instructor

Welcome to Active Rain Kelly, 

Let me be one of the first to "Welcome" you to Active Rain.  I look forward to the value you add to the AR community.  Since I joined the Active Rain network in mid 2008, I have met many talented people who are very friendly & willing to share. Don't hesitate to ASK and the ANSWERS will RAIN on your site. 

My role as an educator/trainer is helping other professionals to be THE BEST in their field and marketplace.  If I can assist you in any way, contact me.  

Mary Yonkers  814.881.7548 http://www.linkedin.com/in/maryyonkers

Alan Kells Schools of Real Estate Inc  412.967.9000 www.alankells.com

Jan 13, 2009 09:18 AM
Jeff Belonger
Social Media - Infinity Home Mortgage Company, Inc - Cherry Hill, NJ
The FHA Expert - FHA Loans - FHA mortgages - USDA loans - VA Loans

Kelly... welcome to Active Rain.... but in regards to lead generators such as these, I am against them. Yes, I am a loan officer... but most loan officers that use this, low ball rates in many cases... they don't educate as much....  I believe in different business models, but never cared for this one. Just as Lending Tree has manipulated and coined the phrase, "we have 4 lenders fight for your business"... even though they seem to get great customer reviews, I think it's a lie. I have spoken to many clients that have used that service and basically got screwed....  I think the better loan officers go about business differently, use other sources and means, and are usually to busy to sit there quoting people every day. I see what happens... just my .02.

Sorry, not trying to rant, but that is my honest feedback. I have tried Zillow... and everyone keeps saying how they are better than the next. That's irrelevant... it comes down to competition and giving rates that will usually change... and how does the consumer know in many cases... we all know that rates are dependent on credit scores...  until then, you can only assume a rate...

jeff belonger

Jan 14, 2009 12:34 AM
Smart Hippo
SmartHippo - San Francisco, CA

Hi Mary & Thanks for the Welcome!

Jeff--Thanks for your input, this is definitely important for us to know. We differ from sites like LendingTree because we are not selling consumer information to lenders, instead we are allowing consumers to anonymously search through rates and read feedback on lenders in hopes they can find both a good rate and a reputable lender to work with. The hope is that because users can review the lenders they will post honest rates & those who receive good reviews from users will prosper. Obviously because users are searching anonymously, rates will not always be perfect matches, but it allows consumers to initiate a relationship with a good lender who will look out for the consumers best interest.

The reason for this approach is the current credit crisis can be partly attributed to consumers taking out bad loans, in some cases the consumers were not well educated on what they were doing (or getting greedy) and that's another side we're currently working on expanding (through interactive Q & A and our blog), but also because of dishonest lenders selling bad loans to make themselves more money. Now we know there are far more good, honest lenders out there and we are (hopefully) creating a place where they can benefit from doing things right (and for free)

I don't know if that changes your opinion, but distinguishing ourselves from our competitors is definitely a challenge for us.

Jan 14, 2009 01:57 AM
Ken Cook
Content, coding, marketing, host. - Marietta, GA
Content Marketer/Creator

Welcome to AR and the world of comment spam :)

Don't be offended I'm just being "transparent" here: I will not use your service because it would be almost impossible to be done right and will be abused by loan officers and even national lenders providing misleading information about their rates just like the dozens or hundreds of other services. Every rate quote prior to application is a lie and the only way for any borrower to get their rate is to apply with a mortgage company - there is just no way around it. Your sevice, by definition, will just be another platform for what we have long called "The Liar's Club". You'll make some money, though. There are plenty of people who are starving in this industry and grabbing at every straw they can find to try and get just one more loan.

Jan 14, 2009 02:34 AM
Smart Hippo
SmartHippo - San Francisco, CA

Hi Ken,

I appreciate your feedback, but I can't say I agree with you! I do have some follow up:

 Do you not think that allowing consumers review lenders will prevent misleading information?

Yes, rates posted without an application cannot always be accurate, but it's up to the lender to explain to the borrower why his/her rates differ from the posted rates. And if he/she cannot provide a good enough answer, there's the risk the user will come back to the site to tell others about the dishonest rates posted.

We are simply connecting potential borrowers to lenders (without making money from either side) with the objective of helping consumers find reputable lenders suited to their specific needs. We do allow consumers to request quotes, but the main push is for them to find a lender and then contact that lender directly for quotes and we are not involved in the application process. I'm well aware that our 'competitors' are claiming similar things, but are really just making money selling consumer information to the highest bidder, but this is what we are trying to avoid. Clearly one of our main objectives might be to distinguish ourselves from others by making sure this fact is more apparent. We believe that allowing consumers to rate and review lenders will help promote a more transparent and accountable industry and we hope that good lenders will be on our side for this.

I'm not trying to be defensive, just trying to get the facts clear. (And if you're wondering, we make our money through on-site advertising and we allow lenders to have a direct link to apply for loans for a pay-per-application fee, this is totally optional though)

Jan 14, 2009 03:21 AM
Smart Hippo
SmartHippo - San Francisco, CA

Oh, and keep the comments coming, this is good stuff for me to know! Thanks.

Jan 14, 2009 03:24 AM