In its latest move to team up with rivals, Banc One Mortgage is readying an Internet site featuring its products and those of at least two other lenders.
The Indianapolis unit of Banc One Corp. company has also bagged an executive with experience in managing mortgage partnerships to oversee the site, called Home By Net.
The executive, Donald K. Erling, is former president and chief executive officer of Home Mortgage Network-a joint venture between HFS Inc.'s Coldwell Banker chain of real estate brokers and PNC Mortgage Corp. that came unraveled last month.
Mr. Erling will be a managing director at Banc One Mortgage and will oversee its wholesale lending efforts. He is to start work Saturday at a big sales meeting.
The unveiling of Home By Net comes on the heels of last week's implementation of a service that lets customers in Banc One Corp. branches choose mortgages from six lenders.
Mr. Erling said Home By Net will be "lender-neutral." What that means is that when consumers visit the site, they will not see Banc One's name emblazoned on the screen.
Customers will be able to peruse offerings of Banc One Mortgage, HomeSide Lending, and HomeComings Financial Network. HomeComings is a division of Residential Funding Corp., which itself is a subsidiary of GMAC Mortgage Corp.
Home By Net will feature a section with tips about the mortgage application process. Customers will also be able to send information to lenders in order to prequalify for a loan.
Once this exchange of information takes place, the consumer and lender can decide for themselves what the best method is for completing the application, said Brad Conner, senior vice president of strategic services for Banc One Mortgage.
Hans Morris, a managing director for Smith Barney, praised Banc One's joint ventures as "unusually modern." He said many banks have resisted partnering with competitors out of fear of losing customers.
But Mr. Morris said more banks need to follow Banc One's lead. "If you don't make information available to someone, they'll get it another way," he said.
Home By Net is tentatively set to be launched March 17. At that time, Mr. Conner said, two other lenders may be on board as well.
Mr. Erling said the lenders currently participating are national lenders, but he did not rule out including smaller regional lenders at some point in order to cater to specific markets.
While Banc One wants to provide consumers with ample choices, the site should not become cluttered with information that customers don't need, Mr. Erling said.
"There's a fine line between having too few and too many lenders," he said. "We're going to be bringing consumers the best products."
Banc One will manage the site, according to Mr. Conner. The lenders participating will pay fees to Banc One based on the amount of transactions generated from Home By Net.