Anchor Mortgage Group, soon to be swallowed up by Dime Bancorp, is still plugging away at building its home-loan business.

In its latest marketing campaign, Anchor is offering a free book, "100 Questions Every First-Time Homebuyer Should Ask," to anyone who prequalifies for a loan by phone or a visit to an Anchor office.

"It's part of a marketing campaign to identify ourselves as an information source," said Geri Telchin, first senior vice president for marketing.

"For example," she said, "we did some ads that provided mortgage information, including how to speed up the refinancing process." She said Anchor is taking the information-provider approach to other bank offerings as well.

The core of the book promotion is a package deal involving sponsorship of "Shadow Traffic," a radio traffic report that runs on 29 radio stations in New York and New Jersey, Ms. Telchin said. The book offer runs on these broadcasts as well as in newspaper ads.

The response to the program.has been very strong, she said. Calls to the company's '800' number have increased by about 30% in the first few weeks of the campaign.

Anchor Mortgage has also been using the book offer at trade shows and with its brokers. At a recent homebuyer show in Madison Square Garden, she said, "we prequalified a couple of hundred people, as opposed to about a dozen a year ago."

The bank has also given its broker network the books. The brokers have responded strongly, the bank said, and have been asking for additional copies.

Anchor said it believes its offer has been working well because "the giveaway is practical and the promotional materials that support it are eye-catching and substantive."

The lender emphasizes that the program is simple, prequalification takes little time and no documentation, and the consumer is not committed to taking out a loan.

Anchor Mortgage is a division of Anchor Savings Bank. The thrift is to be acquired early next year by Dime Bancorp, parent of Dime Savings Bank of New York.

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