The last nine months have seen the final vestiges of an extended refinancing boom, and a new focus by Q1 2004 Internet Mortgage Scorecard firms on purchase mortgages, home equity products and increased attempts to retain existing customers and loans. The economic impact of the refinancing boom's end has pushed some firms off the Scorecard (and out of the industry altogether) -- a trend most Scorecard firms predict will continue.
The Q1 2004 Internet Mortgage Scorecard results bear out the old adage that in an economic shakeout, the strong tend to get stronger. So those firms sitting in the top spots are the ones providing Internet mortgage offerings that cover all aspects of mortgage origination, and these firms continue to invest and upgrade their offerings, allowing them to gain additional market share and retain their top rankings.
In fact, the top four firms for the Q1 2004 Internet Mortgage Scorecard -- IndyMac Bank, Countrywide, E-Loan, and E*Trade Mortgage -- have held spots in the top four of every Mortgage Scorecard conducted by Gomez since Q1 2002.
So what continues to set these firms apart? For most it's a continual evolution of their online mortgage offerings to meet changing consumer needs. For example, IndyMac Bank, which has one of the leading online custom rate engines, is consistently adding new features. A recent addition enables the viewing of statistics concerning which mortgage products were being chosen by customers and even how many origination points customers were choosing to pay for those products (which is potentially useful validation data for customers considering those products).
In another example, Countrywide recently launched an entirely new portion of its site called MoneyLane that is chock-full of information and calculators on home equity products in addition to offering a full online application that can render an instant approval.
Other firms are introducing new products to meet market demand. A case in point is E*Trade's portable mortgage, which allows customers to apply online and lock in a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at today's rates that is transferable to the purchase of a subsequent home in the future. What follows are additional trends detected by the new Scorecard.