The small but growing market for computerized loan originations, could get a boost thanks to Microsoft Corp.'s sizzling new Windows 95 program, some industry observers believe.
The new program allows direct access to the software giant's Microsoft Network, which features a loan origination developed by Patriot Services Inc., Southfield, Mich.
While only a tiny fraction of originations are now performed via a computerized loan system, Patriot hopes that a portion of the millions of computer owners expected to buy Windows 95 will seek out its product on the information superhighway.
"We can give people access to some of the largest lenders in the country," said Mark Sendo, president of Patriot. Among other things, browsers can take a look at current mortgage rates, submit loan applications directly to lenders, compare and contrast costs, and collect documents.
The progress of computerized originations has been held back, however, by Department of Housing and Urban Development regulations. But Mr. Sendo hopes his Microsoft Network offering will attract consumers who might not otherwise think of using such a loan.
Mr. Sendo's rivals aren't so sure. "We're not worried about Patriot," said Jack Guttentag, chairman of GHR Systems in Wayne, Pa., developer of the Mars network. "We've got the state-of-the-art system."
Initially, Mr. Sendo expects his product to appeal to borrowers looking to refinance, assuming that mortgage rates continue to drop and refinancings pick up steam.
"This is like a brick and mortar location at every computer," said Mr. Sendo, who predicts that up to four million people could be on the Microsoft Network within 12 months. Users can get to the Microsoft Network without the new Windows 95 program, however.
Already, six companies have signed up with Patriot, including Monument Mortgage Inc., Walnut Creek, Calif.; Advanta Mortgage Corp., San Diego, and Countrywide Funding Corp., Pasadena, Calif. Mr. Sendo expects more to join soon.
Computerized loan originations could grow in popularity if HUD decides to allow real estate agents to collect a fee for referring borrowers to them, said Brian Chappelle, a staff vice-president with the Mortgage Bankers Association of America.
But Mr. Chappelle added that while high tech has its advantages, "you can get a loan just as fast by making a phone call as by using a CLO."