Zions Bancorp. is preparing to unveil a mortgage service aimed at do- it-yourself consumers.
The service, based on software from Stockell Information Systems of Chesterfield, Mo., walks consumers through the application process and gives them information on various types of home loans.
Next month, the Salt Lake City-based bank's mortgage unit will begin installing the software - called Homeware America - in personal computers that will stand in the lobbies of 137 Zions branches in Utah, Arizona, and Nevada.
"Consumers are more heavily involved in home buying now. They shop around for mortgage lenders," said D. Ronald Holmes, president and chief executive of Zions Mortgage Co.
"We want to provide better service to our bank customers and expand our reach to new markets."
Zions is not alone in this desire. According to a Mortgage Bankers Association of America survey, mortgage companies are increasingly stretching the range of their services in an effort to reach more consumers.
Another user of Homeware America, Amerus Mortgage Inc. of Des Moines, said the software is a good way for correspondent banks to expand their sales reach.
"Many smaller institutions aren't mortgage bankers," said Robert Ksiazek, executive vice president at Amerus Mortgage, an affiliate of Amerus Bank. "This is another way to help them provide those services."
When a consumer has applied for a loan through a Homeware America PC, application information is sent via modem or on hard disk to the sponsor mortgage company for underwriting and approval.
Both Zions and Amerus plan to link their front-end systems with Loan Prospector, underwriting software developed by the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp.
Homeware America provides for cross-selling of other products that may appeal to new homebuyers, such as credit cards and insurance.
Zions Mortgage executives said branch-based PCs are but one possible delivery channel for do-it-yourself mortgage services. Home-based PCs and shopping mall kiosks are two other channels Zions executives are considering.
They also noted that PCs with Homeware America could be placed in strategic locations, such as realty offices and corporate human resources departments.
An Internet version of Homeware America may be available by early next year, according to Sean Stockell, marketing director of Stockell Information Systems.