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RealTime IT News

Microsoft Launches Real Estate Venture

Microsoft Corp. Thursday tapped into the real estate sector by creating a new firm to quicken the pace and at which homes are bought and sold.

Financial details were not revealed, but Microsoft (MSFT) said it would hold a majority stake in the new venture, with Chase.com, Chase Capital Partners, GMAC-RFC, Norwest Mortgage and Bank of America as equity partners. Also mortgage investor Freddie Mac, which has provided significant technology contributions, has a financial interest in the new company.

Microsoft launched HomeAdvisor Technologies Inc. to spruce up its offerings on MSN.com. and to help prospective home buyers iron out a less costly mortgage.

The company comes to fruition after more than a year of development on an open software platform that will automate real estate and mortgage transactions for consumers and industry professionals.

The HomeAdvisor Technologies loan platform, which will debut on HomeAdvisor.com in the coming weeks, automates many of the steps required to approve and finance a mortgage, including credit checks, appraisals and underwriting decisions. As a result, this new process can save the average home buyer more than $2,000 over the course of a loan, enable them to instantly lock a real loan rate online, and cut the closing process from more than a month to just 10 days.

HomeAdvisor will consist of three divisions: transaction, tools and home-buying advice. As general manager, Bryan Mistele will lead the new company.

"A mortgage may be the largest transaction a person ever makes, and people want to purchase one with the same ease and simplicity they currently enjoy with other goods and services," said Jonathan Gaw, research manager of consumer e-commerce at IDC. "Overcoming that barrier by marrying expertise in technology and mortgages to deliver up-front and binding mortgage quotes in real time significantly boosts the development of the online real estate and mortgage category."

To further aid in this agenda, HomeAdvisor Technologies Thursday bought Tuttle Decision Systems Inc., a mortgage technology company that links buyers to more than 800 mortgage banks across the country.