On-line lenders, who had geared their products to younger borrowers, are refocusing on baby boomers, who are Web-savvy and have more money.
Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass., has projected that nearly 10% of the total mortgage market will be on-line by 2003.
The research firm said that Internet penetration is the highest in younger segments, with 38% of those less than 30 years old on-line. But a Forrester analyst said baby boomers may be a more desirable group to cultivate.
"Baby boomers are the generation that created the self-help book," said the analyst, James Punishill. "They like self-services and want to be involved in their transactions. What better way than the Internet? The highest predictors for being on-line are having access to a computer at work, and wealth; that spells 'older person.'
"Every year, the age of Internet users moves up because all the young people are already on-line," he said. "The Web has been a really diverse set of people from the very beginning. And even though it had a younger bent to it, Internet use was by no means targeted toward only the young. Young people don't have any money."
Mortgage Bankers Holding Corp. in Pittsburgh announced Monday that it has begun a joint venture with Boomers.com Inc., a Woodinville, Wash., Internet service provider.
Under the agreement, Mortgage Bankers and its wholly owned subsidiary, National Institute Companies of America Inc., will offer financial services and products on the Boomers Web site.
Kevin P. Maloney, Mortgage Bankers' president, said Internet financial products targeted to baby boomers have the potential to bring in staggering revenues.
"There will be about $10 trillion in the next 10 to 15 years coming in to the market from that generation," he said. "If you get just one one- hundredth of those mortgage transactions, that's incredible revenues."
Products available on the site are to include conforming and subprime mortgages, home equity loans, access to mutual fund companies, multiple insurance carriers, investor services, and financial and estate planning seminars.
Mr. Maloney said Mortgage Bankers plans to be on the Boomers site by about May 15 and will offer on-line mortgage applications, with approval in three or four days.
Mortgage Bankers may have gotten in on the ground floor of an opportunity with what Mr. Punishill called "the fastest-growing segment on- line," those 55 or older.
"Somebody has to buy a computer and pay $20 a month for America Online," he said, "and it's not the 18-year-old kid, it's the baby boomer parent."