Intuit Inc. and five mortgage lenders plan to begin using the Internet to offer the public real-time mortgage rates and on-line loan applications.
Countrywide Home Loans Inc., HomeSide Lending Inc., North American Mortgage, PNC Mortgage, and Principal Residential Mortgage Inc. will begin offering detailed information through Intuit's Quicken Financial Network Web site in October. The offering is a joint project with GHR Systems Inc., a developer of multilender networks.
"Mortgages are one of the most important and complex loan products, and consumers are not happy with the mortgage application process," said Intuit senior product manager Alison Berkley.
QuickenMortgage, a new section of Intuit's Web site, will let consumers electronically obtain mortgage advice and rates, prequalify for loans, and forward an on-line application directly to the mortgage lender.
Intuit has taken a minority ownership stake in GHR, which has information from 37 lenders in its mortgage analysis and reporting system.
"Until a consumer chooses to submit the information to a lender, the process is entirely anonymous," said Ms. Berkley.
Beginning with the Internet-enabled version of Quicken to be released this fall, users of Intuit's flagship personal financial manager will be able to gain access to the mortgage information directly, without opening browser software.
Intuit hopes to add lenders to the system by early next year, Ms. Berkley said. Lenders participating in QuickenMortgage pay an annual fee, which Intuit declined to specify.
Although several financial institutions and real estate agents offer potential homebuyers the ability to compare mortgage rates, GHR chairman Jack Guttentag said Intuit's system offers advantages.
"The critically important things are the ability to, one, access mortgage information on the Internet; two, choose between different lenders; and, three, obtain the information that the consumer needs to make an intelligent decision," Mr. Guttentag said.
"If you log onto the Internet and go to other mortgage sites, the prices you see there are always going to be generic-what the lender is offering on average or under the best of circumstances," he said.
Yet actual mortgage rates are affected by a detailed list of particulars, including the borrower's credit history, plans for occupancy, property features, loan size, and a bewildering array of other factors, Mr. Guttentag said.
Several lenders participating in Intuit's Web site said they hope to tap the 12 million demographically attractive users of Intuit's Quicken and TurboTax software.