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Priceline.com Expands Mortgage Features

Added: (Wed Nov 24 1999)

Pressbox (Press Release) - STAMFORD, Conn. (Reuters) - Priceline.com Inc. (NasdaqNM:PCLN - news), the 'name-your-own-price' Internet commerce firm, said on Sunday it has added some features to its online home mortgage service in the northeastern United States in a bid to boost revenues.

The Stamford, Conn.-based company said it was taking some benefits which were previously available only to customers in Florida, and launching them Connecticut, New Jersey and New York, effective immediately.

The features will be launched across the United States in the first quarter of 2000, the company said.

Priceline, which began offering
name-your-own-price'' airline tickets over the Internet in April 1998, introduced its home mortgage service nationwide in February of this year.

Since then, it has received more than $3.5 billion in loan requests for mortgages, refinancing and home equity loans, the company said.

In October, Priceline began to test-market in Florida a set of enhancements called PricelineMortgage to the service.

The benefits allow consumers to have an online 'chat' with loan consultants who can help them through the complexities of mortgage-shopping. The consultants are employees of Priceline's Jacksonville, Fla.-based partner in the venture, First Alliance Bank, a licensee of Priceline's business model.

The features also allow consumers, when filling out a loan application, to find out right away their guaranteed closing costs, specifically tailored to their county of residence.

"There is, to my knowledge, no other (Web) site out there that guarantees your closing costs by county," as opposed to simply giving a good-faith estimate, said Ben Ness, Priceline's senior vice president of financial services.

By removing uncertainty from the online mortgage-buying process, Priceline expects to add customers and boost revenues, Ness said.

"This is going to make a significant difference in terms of the ultimate revenues that we will generate out of our mortgage business," he said. "It's an improved consumer proposition, so we'll get more demand, and also, we will close more loans this way, and that's where the revenue really is."

Ness declined to give revenue or growth projections.

Priceline shares last Friday fell $4 to close at $67.88 in trading on Nasdaq, on volume of 2.8 million shares.

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