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Widespread mortgage fraud threatens America's homeowners

National Mortgage Professional
Jun 02, 2005

Ask the Online Experts: How did the Internet first get started?Rod Aries and Robert FarrisInternet, net, world wide web, www, From: Joe Spencer, Corner Mountain Mortgage The Internet (often referred to as the "Net") is basically a network of interconnected computers. That is, computers from one part of the Internet can communicate with computers elsewhere on the Internet. The real power of this interconnection is that your mortgage company can communicate with any computer located anywhere in the world. An example of this might be a person in England, who is moving to your community in the United States, might find your Web site and request a loan from you. A good comparison of the Internet would be the highway system throughout the United States. Each city has its own network of freeways and roads that connects to all other cities. This interconnection of roads allows cars to travel from city to city. The Internet is very similar as it allows information (i.e. cars) to travel freely between each city. The Internet can trace its beginnings back to 1969, when the United States Department of Defense started the first network that allowed scientists and researchers to communicate with each other by computer. It is interesting to note that the Defense Department designed this first Internet for national security reasons. The U.S. government wanted a communications system that would be able to withstand a nuclear attack. As the Internet is designed today, entire sections of it could be destroyed, yet the remaining portions could continue to operate effectively. The World Wide Web The World Wide Web (www or Web) is the most user-friendly and powerful tool on the Internet. Web page documents can be viewed on your computer from any Web site in the world. These documents can contain any kind of information, including text, graphics, video, audio, and more. It is like publishing your mortgage company brochure and having it available to the entire world. The Internet really didn't really start to expand until the advent of the World Wide Web in September 1993. With user-friendly browsers made available from Netscape and Microsoft, the Internet became available to the average population. These browsers allowed mortgage customers to find your Web site. The problem is that finding your Web site is becoming more and more competitive. Current statistics show that more than 800 million Web pages have been indexed on the Internet. With more and more mortgage companies having Web sites developed, it is becoming difficult to be found. As we tell our new mortgage clients, "You can have the best mortgage company on the Internet, but if no one knows your Web site exists, you will not conduct any business on the Net." There are thousands of competing mortgage Web sites, and your company needs to stand out from the competition. Various Internet marketing techniques will be covered in future columns. Why do some Web sites take so long to download? From: Mary Walker, Westside Home Loans I know the feeling. And surprisingly enough, having long download times are actually costing mortgage companies thousands of dollars in lost business everyday. Just make sure this is not happening to your company. Here is a typical scenario. A potential mortgage customer is ready to buy a home and starts to research mortgage companies on the Internet. This customer first goes to the one of the major search engines like Alta Vista, Infoseek, Excite, etc. After typing in a specific keyword phrase like "mortgage loans in California," up comes a listing of various Web sites for mortgage companies that conduct loans in California. This potential customer clicks one of the top sites listed and nothing happens. The customer continues to wait as the Web site slowly downloads. The Eight Second Rule After about eight seconds, many Internet users become tired of waiting. They will leave and click onto one of your competitor's Web sites. You really didn't even know it, but you may have lost another commission worth thousands of dollars because your Web design company made some basic Web design marketing errors. One of the golden rules of the Internet-you can't sell your mortgage services if potential customers don't wait around to actually view your offerings. Web design download times are an integral part why some mortgage companies are successful and some are not. Our Web designers call this the "eight second rule." If a mortgage Web site takes longer than eight seconds to download, you risk losing that potential customer. A Web site needs to be designed with the customer in mind, not what your Web design company feels "looks good." Your Web site might look professional with some eye-popping graphics, but your potential customer will never know how your Web site actually looks because no one will wait long enough to view it. Web Designer Mistakes Remember that many Americans are still using 28.8 or 56 kbs dial-up modem service. Compare this speed to your Web design company that probably uses a high-speed Internet connection that is at least five times faster than your computer. When these Web designers review your finished site, it loads very fast on their high-speed connection. They will tell you, "Your Web site looks great." The problem is that only Internet users with a high-speed connection will wait around to view it. Here are some interesting statistics. According to a study by Zona Research, people are willing to wait an average of eight seconds for a Web page to load. This study also found that a significant number of Americans are still using slower 28.8 kbs modems. According to their research, potential lost sales from customers not waiting for a site to load amount to approximately $73 million per month. We recently had a large mortgage company contact us because they needed some Internet marketing consulting. This client was very excited because he thought his brand new Web site looked great. He was all ready to stake his claim on the Internet. This client had spent more than $30,000 on his site design, but unfortunately the Web design company designed the entire site using graphical images. This was a big problem because his site took a very long time to download due to excessive graphics. It was taking a 28.8 kbs modem approximately two and a half minutes just to see his site. Put simply, this client was not a happy mortgage lender. Fortunately, our company was able to re-structure his Web site so his download times improved significantly. Now this mortgage lender can effectively compete on the Net. The Reasons for Long Download Times The reason for the long wait time is because large graphical images take a lot of computer memory to display, and when uploaded to your computer, these large files take a long time to load. There are three primary types of graphical formats that are displayed in Web pages that you should know about: ++GIF (image files with the extension .gif) These tend to be used for small, simple graphics such as buttons or icons. ++JPEG (image files with the extension .jpg) These are often used for complex graphics where image quality is important, such as photos. ++Animated GIF This type of graphic is merely a series of individual GIF's contained in a single file. Typically each image is slightly different than the next so that when displayed in a sequence, the image gives the illusion of animation. Even though our company operates with high speed modems, we also have one dedicated computer with a 28.8 kbs modem to test our clients' Web sites before they are uploaded to the Internet. We want to make sure their sites will upload within the eight second rule. Make sure you test your company Web site download speed (and possibly upgrade your current Web design) so your company doesn't continue losing customers to the dreaded "lengthy download time." Rod Aries and Robert Farris are Co-Founders of MortgagePromote.com, a leading Internet marketing and Web design provider to the mortgage industry, offering Web site promotion services, Internet marketing techniques and comprehensive search engine ranking strategies to Mortgage Brokers, bankers, and lending institutions. They can be contacted by phone at (800) 625-8787, or E-mail: info@mortgagepromote.com. Submit your Internet questions to: questions@mortgagepromote.com.
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