Despite industry fears that diminished refinancings will make 1994 a tough year for mortgage brokers, one Chicago start-up is optimistic and believes that technology will give it an edge.

Orchard Financial recently opened its doors for business in three Chicago area locations.

The company, which employs two full-time computer programmers, has developed a mortgage software system that will enable customers to be pre-qualified at the real estate brokerage offices.

The company plans to implement on-screen signature technology that would make possible remote originations through the computer system, according to Marc Salaco, president.

Besides providing daily updates of rates and programs, the software can also make recommendations as to which of the loan programs might best suit an individual consumer's needs.

More than 100 Programs

"The mortgage industry is moving toward complete systems-driven applications," said Mr. Salaco.

Orchard will offer more than 100 separate loan programs through a number of mortgage banks, according Mr. Salaco.

The company elected to carry that many products, according to Mr. Salaco, because "today's refinancing boom has also touched off enormous competitive pressures to reduce overall mortgage costs."

Besides plain-vanilla mortgages, the company will also offer "B" and "C" mortgages as well as home equity and home improvement loans.

B and C credits are those made to consumers with less than pristine credit histories.

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