NAMB meets with HUD
A snapshot of Acorn MortgageWarren H. MyerInterview,Acorn Mortgage Company,Bruce Reiman
"Think of Kansas and what often comes to mind are flatlands and
a ribbon of highway extending to the horizon, prairie dogs,
tractors and waving stalks of wheat," said Bruce Reiman, president
of Acorn Mortgage Company. "But it's only the western part of the
state that's 'Dorothy and Toto.' Mission is different."
Mission, Kan., where Bruce chose to open his business 15 years
ago, is located on the border of Kansas and Missouri in hilly,
green Johnson County, one of the wealthiest counties per capita in
the U.S. "It's still growing," said Bruce. "In every fourth house
lives a millionaire. It's a great place to live and raise a family.
It's a real 'home town,' where the only difference between Kansas
and Missouri is a yellow line down the middle of the street." The
laws are different in both states. In fact, Bruce must be licensed
in both Kansas and Missouri in order to do business in this one
town. "Still, there's no place like home," he added.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Bruce, recently, and talk
about his company and its implementation of Myers Internet
WHM: What you consider the primary reasons for your
BR: The Internet! We do some offline advertising, but
we're a small shop with a limited budget. We make every dollar
count by listing our Internet site on our newspaper ads. When we
receive an Internet lead, we call right away and do our best to
make a prospect feel comfortable; then, we walk them back to the
site to complete the application. Between 90-100 percent of our
applications are generated through the Internet.
WHM: What made you launch a Web site?
BR: A while back, one of my mortgage bankers received a
special offer on a Myers Web site. I already knew that the median
age of a borrower is 35.7, and that people of that age are pretty
comfortable with technology. I'm a little older than that, but I
realized that was where the market was going, and it was a great
offer. The more business you can keep growing on the Internet, the
better it's going to get. When I started in this business, it took
60 days to get a loan--and how much paper we had to use! I was
ready for a Web site.
WHM: How does the Internet influence your
BR: It has a tremendous influence. I receive tons of
compliments on how attractive and usable our Web site is. People
really like to use the Rate Tracker. They just punch in rates a
little above and a little below what they are actually looking for.
With the CalcuLetter, people come to my site to pre-qualify
themselves and run ratios; it gives them a good idea if they'll be
WHM: What has been your most interesting experience
using the Internet?
BR: I've done out-of-state loans without ever seeing the
clients ... that is the best thing I can think of offhand. It's
also especially satisfying when former clients visit my Web site
and reapply. It shows their confidence.
WHM: What is your biggest challenge with the
BR: I always want it to be faster. So, speed--and spam of
WHM: How do you use your Web site to generate new
BR: I put my Web site and both of my e-mail addresses, email@example.com and
everywhere: business cards, signs ... anything I can tack it on to
(they're too long for my license plate). Once, I tried to buy
leads, but that was a disaster. Right now, I'm looking at banner
WHM: How do you use your Web site to service existing
BR: Direct marketing to past clients is one of the
strategies I'd like to improve. I'm always looking for ways to grow
WHM: How much business do you conduct a year?
BR: I'm in a small market and I'm a small shop. All I
really want to say is that we are busy! Business has shifted from
refinance to purchase, and much of our current business is
generated from referrals from former clients. We have a strong base
of former refinance and purchase customers, and as I said, I'm
looking at how to best incorporate those e-mail addresses into some
WHM: What kind of business do you do?
BR: Conforming, mostly A-paper, conventional and some
jumbo loans. We do some super-jumbos. One of our loan officers
specializes in sub-prime loans. I do a small amount of real estate
business, but not much. Actually, I receive more business from real
estate agents by doing refinances and purchases for them than I do
receiving their referrals.
WHM: What is the best feature on your Web site?
BR: The buttons on the actual application are really easy
to work; they're just like what I would have in my hand. And
consumers love the Rate Tracker and the Sweepstakes button. I keep
hoping someone from my site will win.
WHM: What is your strategy for success over the next 12
BR: I plan on opening up a few more streams of income,
such as "For Sale by Owners," and invest in more marketing.
Warren H. Myer is CEO of Myers Internet Inc. He has been
featured as an online mortgage expert on CNN and has been
interviewed and quoted in numerous publications, including Money
Magazine and Fast Company. He may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.myers.com.