Mortgage technology and beyond: The LION roarsJohn SvirskyLenders Interactive Online Network, LION, Internet technology, loan search tool, Web site creation I first reviewed Lenders Interactive Online Network (LION) several years ago, long before the Internet was a factor in our business. I liked it then and today I like it even more. The foremost criteria for any product that I review is: "Have I made money from it, or will it help me to do so in the future?" My attitude is, if I can make money, you can too, and then I will review a product. LION provides so many valuable resources under one Web site, which I will detail later. I highly recommend LION and use several of its features all of the time, including a loan search. By completing the parameters of the desired loan (fixed or variable, jumbo, conforming, etc.), I get the rates and programs within seconds, rather than having to thumb through a bunch of rate sheets. The search can be defined for only those lenders who offer a rebate, or those loans between one point back to par. It's so easy to become lazy and habitually send loans to the same lender. By taking the minute or so to perform a search, I've discovered that another lender had a lower rate at that time. If I am going to do a Desktop Originator Loan from LION, I can search and see which lender is offering the best pricing. One of the great benefits of the Internet is knowledge. When we can compare rates online, it makes it much easier. After all, isn't that what consumers do when they surf the Web? LION currently has more than 300 online lenders, including A and sub-prime. An interesting statistic I just read was in reference to new car sales, but the principle also pertains to the mortgage industry. In 1990, before the Internet, the average sales price of a new car was 5 percent below the sticker price. In 1999, with the popularity of the Internet as an informational source, the average sales price was nearly 11 percent below sticker price. Why? Consumers know the cost price to the dealer, and base their offer accordingly. Knowledge is power. So too with the mortgage industry. Mortgage Brokers cannot continue to do business the way they did in the early 90's and remain in business, and LION is a tool that helps make the broker more effective and efficient in working with the consumer. Check out LION's Web site (www.lioninc.com) and go to the main menu. If you are a member, you would log in, but even as a guest to the site, there is plenty of useful information. Other features of the site include bond market updates with commentary, broker and lender home pages, job opportunities, industry links, and much more. When I log on, I first read the bond information and check out any industry news of interest. I also perform a loan search, or for the sub-prime deals, I send my preliminary application (a short application completed online) and wait for lenders to respond to my query-usually within less than 48 hours. If I am working on a specific deal, I would do a loan search to see who has the lowest price, then click on the Desktop Originator Center. I am then connected to Fannie Mae and may export my applications from Calyx's Point (you can also use Contour, Genesis, or Byte), and quickly have a decision. I know that I could go to Desktop Originator directly, but I have found the LION site to be a very convenient and efficient way to get there. Another feature of www.lioninc.com is the ability to create your own Web presence. According to Matt Canetto of LION, "LionChoice.com permits the broker to design a custom Web site with current interest rates and a secure 1003 application along with interactive calculators. If you already have a Web site then click on Mortgage 101, and you can improve your existing site with more than 160 different documents and interactive tools." One advantage of LionChoice over other sites is that it's customized and based on your choices. Also, the site is built with a unique URL (such as www.svirsky.com). Many search engines will not pick up sites anymore without the unique ".com" address. What's the use of a great site if there is no traffic? Through LION's America Mortgage Online and Mortgage 101, they generate more than 600,000 hits a month from consumers viewing rates. LION also forwards the client's site to more than 2,200 search engines and directories. The big thing that sets LION apart is its Application. It's the only application that gives the broker access to Fannie Mae's Desktop Originator Center via the Internet, instead of MORNET. There is no re-keying or data entry for this, or importing loan origination software. Enough of the overview and now to specifics. Going to the Members Home Page, the following options are offered: *Loan search searches for "A" lenders and their rates. You fill in the parameters of the deal and do a search that will provide the interest rates and points for the lenders in your region. Another excellent feature is, by keying in your margin on a deal (one or two points, and so forth), you can set it so that you can perform an online search in front of your clients with your margins built in. *Loan link finds sub-prime/niche sources and lets you send a pre-application to all or some of the sub-prime lenders and they can respond directly to you. *Rate sheet on demand offers lenders online rate sheets, a useful feature if you are out of the office. Not every lender can be found there, but there are enough. Check and see whether yours is there. In addition, the News Now feature provides up-to-date financial information; Industry Directory provides a listing of industry professionals; Countrywide Calculators can be most useful if you are with a borrower; the Online Regulations section provides links with Adfinent, AllRegs, HUD, Fannie Mae mortgage documents, and FHA maximum mortgage limits; LION Statistics and History is a pretty self-explanatory link; and More Links connects you to daily newspapers, business magazines, technology magazines, news feeds, Internet search engines, health, law, TV, weather, etc. I have made money using the LION Loan Search and Trade Section ; there is one section for prime and another for sub-prime. I really enjoyed this feature when Ive had out-of-state deals, completed the short form provided and had lenders contact me. LionChoice.com permits you to build your own Web site, enhance your site using Mortgage 101, or increase traffic using their America Mortgage Online, which helps generate leads and allows the posting of interest rates for more than 30 loan programs. Life is all about choices, and it's up to each of us to choose wisely. Check out www.Lioninc.com to see if it can be of service to you as it is to me. Summary Information Product: LION Web Site: www.lioninc.com Product Description: A multi-faceted Web site that provides lenders interest rates, offers access to sub-prime lenders who will inform you whether they are interested in your deal before a full submission, customized Web site creation, direct access to Fannie Mae's Desktop Originator, and more. Price: Basic LION service $50/month (volume discounts are available). For rates on LionChoice, Mortgage 101, America Mortgage Online, banner ads, etc., visit LION online at www.lioninc.com for details How to Contact : By phone at (888) 251-7616 or by E-mail at [email protected] Recommendation: I use it all the time in my business-the highest recommendation that I can give. John D. Svirsky is a former Director and Technology Chairperson of the NYAMB, a volunteer firefighter, gardener, avid cigar enthusiast, and has been in business for himself for 18 years. John may be reached at (914) 424-3388 or [email protected].