HomeSide Inc., the nation's fifth-largest originator of mortgages, has unveiled an Internet site for its correspondents and brokers.
HomeSide's new site, in contrast to the many on-line services geared to homebuyers, is one of the first to cater to the needs of its business partners.
The Jacksonville, Fla.-based lender, which originates a vast majority of its loans through its wholesale channel of brokers and correspondents, joins Countrywide Credit Industries in offering a site to the wholesale partners.
Observers said the site could lure new brokers and correspondents into HomeSide's network. "They are making sure they have an avenue for people that do want to use the Internet," said Gerard Cassidy, analyst with Tucker Anthony.
HomeSide originated $19.6 billion of mortgages last year and more than 90% of that volume came from wholesale channels.
Robert Davis, first vice president for production technology, said the goal of the site is to help cut costs of the more than 2,000 brokers and correspondents that sell loans to HomeSide.
By using the site, HomeSide's brokers and correspondents can get loan price updates, check the status of loans in process, and look at product and operation manuals on-line instead of having to make phone calls or send faxes to request this information. Customers will need a password to enter this portion of the site.
HomeSide will begin to mail information on the site to brokers and correspondents next month, and Mr. Davis said the company expects many will use it.
"We did a survey of our customer base, and a much larger percentage use the Internet than we thought," he said. According to Mr. Davis, more than half of HomeSide's wholesale clients said they use the Internet on a daily basis.
HomeSide's site also has an area for brokers and correspondents who are not customers to get more information about the company.
But it will take time to tell whether this Internet venture will generate any significant revenue, Mr. Cassidy noted.