Ellie Mae is Making Friends in Real Estate

Residential Mortgage Brokers Depend on Company's Web Services, Portal

An 18-month-old Internet B2B company, Ellie Mae, has moved its headquarters into an 18,000 square foot space in the Hacienda Lakes complex.

The company, which employs 125, offers a variety of services to residential mortgage brokers, including both services to create web sites for the brokers and an industry-focused Internet portal.

"We're not a lender we don't make loans and we have no interest in making loans," says Art Ringwald, the company's president and CEO. "Really a lot of what we do is to make mortgage brokers more successful."

Ellie Mae's first product, Web Solutions, came about when company founder Sig Anderman recognized that the many attempts to disintermediate residential mortgage brokers by lenders marketing direct to consumers wasn't likely to work.

"The likely growth in the residential housing market is likely to come from first time homebuyers and other people generally unfamiliar with how mortgages work," explains Ringwald. "Sig concluded that brokers were here to stay and that they were likely to be winners in the market share game over time, and he thought that a good place to focus a new business would be in finding a way to help support brokers to maintain or enhance their market share."

With that in mind, Ellie Mae launched Web Solutions, which allowed mortgage brokers to set up their own web page and customize it with graphics, links to Realtors, pre-qualification forms, and more.

The product was well received and sales have grown exponentially.

"We sold 400 in the first six months, 1,400 in the next six months, and then 1,400 in the next three months," says Ringwald.

Perhaps the company's most innovative product is the new Ellie Mae Business Center, a portal site designed to offer not only the latest industry news but also business tools and group discount buying features.

"It's a place where the broker goes for news, a live bond ticker with information on the capital markets, details on lenders such as their underwriting guidelines, and more," he says. "There's a section where they can order an appraisal simply by clicking on the appraiser's name. They can order credit reports, they can order automated underwriting through Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac's automated underwriting systems We provide discounts on office supplies and air freight ordered through the site."

The Business Center has been met with equal enthusiasm in the market, as over 4,200 brokers have registered in the four weeks since the product's introduction.

Ultimately, consumers benefit as well since mortgage brokers are better able to find the best products and provide better service.

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