Way back in June 2008, it was reported that Google had begun it’s online version of loan comparison shopping in the U.K. with very little word on when or if it would make a play in the U.S. and in October 2009, it finally launched in the States. Although this is not bleeding edge news, the news is that it’s made it’s way to Texas and was dead on accurate in discovering our location and presenting rates. Any search regarding mortgages will bring up a sponsored result with comparative rates allowing would be refis and buyers to compete and shop rates taking aim directly at Zillows Mortgage Marketplace (ZMM).
Rates are ad sponsored promotions by any and all lenders wishing to participate, however, Google reassures that rates are not teasers, and in fact are the natural rates in the market place. Consumers participating have full control over personal data and can restrict personal data exchange until they’ve fully compared all rates, just like ZMM.
What’s so fascinating about all of this is Google’s incessant need to have its hands in all aspects of business, even Zillow’s, leaving many to wonder when Google will run out of friends. It seeks no partnerships, but instead to absorb ideas and business models as their own if an ad can be placed beside it or a lead sold from it.
Obviously, ZMM kicks Google’s ass in the realm of buyer education and disintermediation, and is still the leader in relationship building between lender and consumer, but both have point comparison (points are fees borrowers pay to the lender in order to get a lower interest rate. The number of points refers to a percentage of the loan amount. For example, “2 points” means a charge of 2% of the loan amount.) leaving not a whole lot of difference in the physical outcome of results, but where I think Zillow comes out way ahead is experience and trust with the consumer, but let’s face it, Google can virtually answer any real estate related questions using even it’s competitors results- welcome to the information should be free world.
As the housing market heats back up in 2010 Zillow can beat Google in ‘first search’ with a traditional ad blitz, but the big picture I’m seeing from Google is essentially a start to finish search & buy scenario and probably looking heavily at the flat fee title option and comparative homeowner’s insurance to round it all off in an effort to capture more ad dollars.