CHICAGO - Contour Software Inc. has developed software to link mortgage wholesalers and brokers with users of the company's origination software.

Contour announced the link-up software, called The Wholesale Option, last week in Chicago at the national Technology in Mortgage Banking conference. The company said free copies would be offered to loan originators.

"The software gives lenders the ability to revise data within an application, such as rates or down payments, and reprint the forms for their brokers," said Scott Cooley, president of the Campbell, Calif.-based software company.

"We believe The Wholesale Option is a significant advancement for both wholesalers and third-party originators.

The software uses a standard electronic data interchange format, enabling wholesalers and brokers to receive documents from Contour's customer base.

Mr. Cooley said a number of wholesalers have piloted the system successfully. It is currently being used by Cupertino National Bank, Washington Square Mortgage Co., and Howard Hanna Financial Services Inc.

"Automated underwriting services are changing the face of how loans are marketed, processed, and sold, and soon it will standard way of doing business," he said.

In a separate announcement, the firm also unveiled an interface with the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp.'s newly developed automated underwriting service, Loan Prospector.

The system - which uses artificial intelligence to determine the creditworthiness of a borrower and allows the lender to asses collateral before the loan is closed - was rolled out earlier this year.

"This is a tool which dramatically changes the way loans are closed in this country," said a spokesman for Freddie Mac. "By using Loan Prospector, a mortgage company can close a loan within five days instead of the current industry standard of five weeks."

According to industry insiders, the mortgage banking community has been waiting for automated underwriting, and now that it is available many lenders will use the system.

Mr. Cooley said lenders can use Contour's service to submit mortgage application data to Freddie Mac for underwriting and receive, within minutes, the company's decision about whether it will purchase the loan.

"Automated underwriting services are changing the face of how loans are marketed, processed and sold," he said. "By utilizing EDI connections, wholesalers can eliminate redundant entry and data entry errors, and expedite automated underwriting so processing will be easier."

Contour has been working with EDI since 1986 and is currently working with 80 EDI partners. The company was part of Freddie Mac's pilot of Loan Prospector last year.

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