SmartHippo Launches

Have you ever wondered how banks make so much money in the mortgage business? If you stop to think about it, mortgages are the ultimate commodity product these days. The bank collects information from you, gives you a loan, outsources the customer service to a loan servicing company, and securitizes your loan.

So how do banks make money? It’s ‘easy.’ They sell you a loan at a higher rate than they’d be willing to settle for. A mortgage is a big, unpleasant, complex process that includes some stranger pawing through your financial life. Making a bad choice is worrisome. Most people apparently get very few quotes, and are told that their rate depends on their credit score.

There’s a strong imbalance in the information that each side has, and my friends at SmartHippo have just launched a site to help correct that imbalance.

If you’re getting a mortgage, or just want to compare, check these folks out. I really like what they’re doing and where they’re going.

What would it be like if buying lemonade was as complicated as shopping for mortgage rates? See what happens when little Jenna opens a lemonade stand and tries to maximize profit at the expense of her customers.

4 thoughts on “SmartHippo Launches

  1. In the vid, the guy on the cell phone whines about needing to provide his credit score, and on the hippo site they ask you to categorize your credit score!
    Not saying that “knowing the invoice price” isn’t a valuable thing, but the video doesn’t speak to the real problem, at all.

  2. This site is nothing new. They are a member of the SecureRights network, meaning they are selling the consumer information as if it is a commodity. Your information is put into the LeadPoint network for every broker to bid on your information. (see: http://trustedoffer.com/2007/09/21/you-are-not-a-commodity/) Not good for the community and not a redefining change in the lead generation space.
    Basically all this site does is use the latest 2.0 buzz words to garnish interest. Big deal that I can use a fancy button to vote on a users profile. LendingTree has allowed consumers to rate banks since its inception (see: http://www.lendingtree.com/stm3/lenders/scorecard.asp).
    Where is the control? Where is my power?

  3. Hi Anonymous,
    Thanks for taking the time to look at the site and to post your feedback. If you had looked at what we’re doing a bit more closely, you would have seen that your comments are about 1/4 right and 3/4 misunderstandings.
    Our Compare rates and Post rates features have nothing at all to do with SecureRights. These are the features that the bulk of our visitors use.
    You can search for rates without giving up any personal information whatsoever. Most sites either display no rates at all until you’ve given them your personal information, or display rates from advertisers who pay to display their rates, often displaying only teaser rates. We let anyone (bank or consumer) report any rate to us, for free. (We even turn around and make that data available under a Creative Commons license so that others can integrate them into other web content or applications.)
    To post rates, all we require is that the user sign up and validate a unique email address, but you can use a free email account and we don’t ask for their name or other identifying information.
    Now we recognized that there is a segment of people that want to shop in a more passive way, by filling out a form and having people contact them. We had to choose between not accommodating this segment, or offering them an option but trying to implement it in the most user-centered way we could think of. We chose the latter.
    We use SecureRights for our “get quotes” feature and they do sell your info to multiple banks or lenders. This is disclosed on the form itself, in our privacy policy, and in our FAQ. However, when we present the four matches returned by SecureRights, we also display SmartHippo community ratings alongside them, and we later ask the visitor to come back to our site to post the rates and feedback on those banks.
    Can you show me another site that allows me to view real rates (not sponsored rates or teaser rates) without giving up personal info? Can you tell me where on LendingTree’s site I can view the comments and feedback that will tell me *why* a given bank has 3 stars instead of 4?
    SmartHippo is absolutely different and we’ve worked very hard to try to put as much power back in your hands. If you have any ideas as to how we can give you even more power and control, please share them with us.

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