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.

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