LendingTree Inc. of Charlotte, N.C., and Freddie Mac have agreed to integrate Lend-X, LendingTree's business-to-business loan origination platform, with Loan Prospector, Freddie's automated underwriting system.
The multiyear licensing deal aims to integrate the two companies' technologies into a private-label lending platform that will be marketed to Freddie's 3,000 lenders. LendingTree said the system will become available in the fourth quarter.
In the new system, Lend-X will supply the front-end and middleware components, for the loan application and integration of all the parts; and Freddie Mac will supply back-end technology, for automated underwriting and pricing. Freddie has also agreed to buy the loans originated through the platform.
Douglas R. Lebda, founder and chief executive officer of LendingTree, said the deal with Freddie Mac gives his company "tremendous reach" for selling its Lend-X technology.
The platform is to let lenders offer real-time pricing and rate locks, and it will let customers check their loans' status throughout the process.
Under the agreement LendingTree will initially get several million dollars in fees for developing and licensing the software, plus transaction fees for loans originated through the platform.
"Our goal is to make Lend-X the operating system of online lending," Mr. Lebda said. "We are advancing our technology toward an end-to-end solution that is not available on the Internet today."
HomeAdvisor Technologies Inc., a Redmond, Wash., company partly owned by Microsoft Corp., might beg to differ. Freddie Mac is an equity investor in HomeAdvisor, which is also marketing an Internet origination platform - with Freddie's tools embedded in it - to lenders.
A Freddie spokeswoman said the company wants to disperse its tools to lenders through as many channels as possible; she said the LendingTree deal is the third of its kind. In addition to HomeAdvisor, Freddie has provided the same tools to Cuna Mutual Mortgage Corp., which plans to develop a system for credit unions.
Jim Taylor, vice president of business development at Freddie Mac, declined to discuss the HomeAdvisor relationship during a teleconference with investors but said Freddie is "thrilled" to be joining forces with LendingTree. HomeAdvisor made its deal with Freddie in March and went live with the product in May.
James Punishill, an online financial services analyst at Forrester Research, said the LendingTree agreement sets up a race with HomeAdvisor to roll out the best technology.
"This in one sense is a small thing - it doesn't rewrite the process - but it's an important first step," said Mr. Punishill. "It will encourage more people to execute online while making it cheaper and easier for the lender."