Another on-line mortgage site is clamoring for attention, adding to the multitude of lenders, brokers, auctioneers, and interactive rate finders on the Web.

Atlanta-based MortgageAuction.com announced Wednesday that it was beginning a nationwide marketing campaign. The campaign will include a presence on Internet portals like Yahoo- a contract with which is in the works, the company said-as well as radio and print advertising and banners in real estate Web sites.

MortgageAuction.com is designed to match prospective borrowers with mortgage lenders in a real-time auction format. The site went live Nov. 16.

Teresa Caro, vice president of marketing, declined to say who funded it the site or how many loans have been originated through it. She said lenders have estimated that 20% to 45% of accepted bids result in closed loans.

Borrowers pay nothing to use the site and are offered a conditional best-rate guarantee. Each lender pays a fee-$49.95 for a month in which it wins fewer than 20 bids, $39.95 when it wins more.

James Punishill an analyst at the technology research firm Forrester Research, predicts annual on-line mortgage origination will reach $91 billion in 2003, or roughly 10% of total originations.

"On-line mortgages still represent a nothing number in terms of the entire amount of the market. Companies like E-loan, Quicken Mortgage and Loan Shark came out very early and have garnered a large amount of the business," Mr. Punishill said.

"Are there too many players on the net now? Probably."

Mr. Punishill said new companies will continue to go on-line, until there is a need to consolidate, much like the traditional market.

"The mortgage process is really ugly-there is a whole lot of paper and it is very confusing for the customer-brokers used to shield you from this kind of a process," Mr. Punishill said. "Along comes the Internet and they slapped on an electronic front end to the big, sloppy process. But E-loan still has the same problems as Countrywide."

Nevertheless, Mr. Punishill said Internet companies like MortgageAuction.com force lenders to improve the mortgage process.

And whether or not on-line mortgage sites are an ideal way to shop for loans, he said, they are here to stay.

"If $91 billion of all mortgage originations are done on-line in 2003 and our estimate that 50% of Americans will be Internet users is accurate, just think of what that number means," Mr. Punishill said. "It means that 20% of people getting mortgages are doing it on-line."

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