Posted April 3, 2008 11:37 am by with 13 comments

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Real estate site Zillow is empowering people once again. They’ve added a news service to complement their property valuations – mortgage rate quotes. Their Mortgage Marketplace connects lenders and people shopping for a mortgage or refinance.

Here’s how Zillow‘s Mortgage Marketplace works:

  • You anonymously submit a request for a loan, along with other details like your credit, amount needed, value of property, etc.
  • Certified lenders give estimates based on that information so you can compare rates.
  • Lenders don’t contact you, you contact the lender you want to work with (this is a huge advantage)
  • You can leave comments and rate the lenders based on your experience

Mortgage rates have been in my daily thoughts for several weeks. I’m refinancing my 5 year ARM to a fixed rate mortgage (I never expected to be in the same place longer than 5 years).

I’ve worked with three lenders and locked in a rate with two. Zillow actually played into this – because one lender based the worth of my property on Zillow’s rates, which were about $30k higher than the appraisal came in at. My bank practically takes their valuations as gospel.

I’ve seen some sloppy numbers and some excessive fees in this process, and it makes me nervous. Plus, it’s tough to compare loans side-by-side. I can’t tell you how many good faith estimates I’ve had lenders prepare so I can compare the loans easier.

Another point that I find important is that you can rate lenders. There is a big difference between them – in how long they take to get back to you, and especially in the fees they charge.

I bookmarked this page about average closing costs in my state – I can’t find any more of the survey (it is for 2007). This guide saved me from paying exorbitant fees (each lender has a unique set it seems). It’s often tough to get real numbers, so I hope Zillow will do similar surveys of their lenders.

If I hadn’t just locked in, I would try Zillow’s service and report back. Since I have, I’ll have to reply on our readers or feedback on the site. Hopefully though I won’t be in the mortgage market again for several years.