Anchor Mortgage Services Inc. of Wayne, N.J., is offering to cut half a point off the origination fee paid by homebuyers if they are referred by real estate agents.

The offer highlights how lenders across the country are seeking to firm up their relations with realty offices. The idea is to ensure a steady flow of customer referrals, even when refinancings subside.

"We feel that real estate professionals are a key element in the entire home finance and homebuying network," said Charles Sewright, chief executive officer of Anchor Mortgage. The company is a unit of Hewlett, N.Y.-based Anchor Savings Bank.

|Not a Captive Orientation'

"Our customer relationships are tied very strongly to their customer relationships," he said. "It's more of a point of sale orientation, but it is not a captive orientation."

Several of the company's promotional pitches since spring have focused on the value of using a Realtor. Anchor Mortgage insists the program encompasses more than "just dollars off."

"We provide various seminars covering such things as time management and sales, where we go in and give presentations to Realtor office staffs," Mr. Sewright said, adding that other program incentives have included such things as discounts on closing costs.

He pointed out that other mortgage lenders often use short-term discounts and other price cuts primarily to cover short-falls. "That's not the case with us," he said.

Says Savings Are Passed on to the Consumer

Robert Sladek, senior vice president and head of Anchor Mortgage's retail operations, pointed out that there was absolutely no financial connection between the Realtors and Anchor and that discount-program savings were passed directly on to the consumer.

Federal Housing Authority and Veterans Administration loans, zero-point mortgages, and refinancings do not qualify for the current origination-fee discount program. Mr. Sladek said that typically the promotions run from two to four months.

The fee-discount program is in effect primarily at Anchor Mortgage's retail branches in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, and parts of Florida and Arizona.

Mr. Wiggins is a freelance writer based in New Jersey.

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