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Mortgage Lead Quality

Mortgage Lead Quality

Directory ads versus lead purchases

April 24, 2006

By PAULA PARISOT

photo of Paula Parisot
Paula Parisot
Generating mortgage leads from directory advertising leaves originators vulnerable to competitors who use “bait and switch” tactics, according to one mortgage broker. But an Illinois-based lead generation company is helping originators overcome poor marketing investments by offering full refunds for bad leads.

Dana Bain, a Boston-based broker, claims that sneaky advertising practices are being used on Bankrate.com by lenders who use the service to generate leads. Bain said he believes some of the lenders are touting low rate, zero-point, zero-origination loans while disguising those fees by calling them something other than points or origination fees, leading to consumer confusion.

Bain said when a consumer searches for a loan on the Bankrate.com’s Web site they often find “too good to be true” rates with hidden fees, making it harder for some of the smaller lenders to compete with the deception.

“I’ve investigated it,” Bain told MortgageDaily.com. “I’ve called one lender who said the $5000 was a ‘sure fee,’ or if a loan officer is really slick he will say ‘those are closing fees but if you want the regular closing fees the rate will be six and three-quarters’ (higher).”

But North Palm Beach, Fla.-based Bankrate.com Chief Marketing and Communication Officer Bruce Zanca said, “Bankrate has the most aggressive quality control process in the industry.”

“We try to make the process as transparent for consumers as possible,” Zanca told MortgageDaily.com. “If a lender isn’t supporting the rate they advertise they can be taken off the site; there is no upside for a lender to post bad rates.”

In refute to Bain’s claims Zanca said, “There are hundreds of lenders that are successfully using Bankrate to source consumer leads for their business; the fact of the matter is the site provides a great service to consumers and to financial advertisers.”

Zanca added that out of the four million consumers who visit their site each month, “you could count the complaints on one hand.”

On the other side of the coin, Chicago-based ProspectZone recently announced the addition of a new quality assurance program that includes a tele-verification process performed by a call center team. The company, which operates online at Mortgage.prospectzone.com, said it includes call center verification as part of its quality lead generation process that comprises search engine optimization, pay-per-click, and affiliate marketing.

“Mortgage brokers have been burned by lead generation companies that don’t live up to their promises regarding the quality of leads delivered,” Clint Jones, chief executive officer of ProspectZone, said in the press release. “Our goal in creating the quality assurance program is to meet broker demand for valid names and numbers from people who have truly expressed interest in a loan product.”

ProspectZone’s Creative and Marketing Director Jeremiah Desmarais told MortgageDaily.com that some information could be inaccurate due to consumer error such as inputting the wrong appraised value or other relevant information. “It’s not that they are being dishonest, they just don’t know,” Desmarais said.

“If the contact information is incorrect, we automatically give credit for it,” Desmarais explained, adding that most brokers are looking for valid leads and not a refund.

“Having repeat buyers is important for our business,” he said. “If you aren’t offering a hassle-free return, you won’t have that.

Desmarais said they market their Web sites as “free quoting services” and there is an 800 number consumers can call if they have a problem with sharing information over the Internet.

“We don’t use sneaky co-registration,” he added.


Paula Parisot is a MortgageDaily.com feature reporter and a blogger at CloserBlog.com who has also worked in the mortgage industry.

e-mail Paula at: PaulaParisot@MortgageDaily.com

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