Website Review –

As an entity in the mortgage business, you do not need to spend a lot for a website that delivers a wealth of consumer-related benefits. The proof of this can be seen at, from Fair Oaks Mortgage. The layout is typical, functional, and attractive. What makes it a great broker website is the abundance of elements that it offers.

This site’s options are displayed in a tab format that makes your screen look like a tab index card file. Tabs are easy to understand and make navigation easy. The layout is clean and attractive. The graphics are simple, yet effective. It uses economical but effective techniques like drop-shadows behind the company name, creating a 3-D effect. The focal point is a scrolling text box (an “applet” or an embedded file) that is inexpensive to create and is not memory demanding.

Here are examples of techniques that are effective and easy to add to a home page. Next to the scrolling text, options for Apply Online or Bi-weekly Mortgage are encased in powder blue ovals. When you hover your mouse over one of the ovals, it appears to jump in front of the other. Move your mouse to the other oval and it jumps to the front. It looks like animation but it is actually a trick. There are two complete images. Mouse-over coordinates activate a Java Script command, swapping images. Another example that creates an illusion of animation is in the beveled option buttons. Again, the mouse hover triggers an image swap, making the shadow in the bevels appear to move from upper right to lower left. This creates the illusion of a motion.

At least half of the features in the website are purely informational. For instance, under the heading FHA, there are 11 second level options: max loan limits, termite requirements, well and septic information, appraisal red flag items, who can pay for what, reverse mortgages, rehab loans, and MIP refunds, as well as the options of calculating a payment and downloading an FHA loan package. Under the VA tab, there are another dozen screens with information related to that type of home loan.

Other useful features in the website include links to mortgage type agencies. Another of the tabs is Special Programs which lists five programs that have lower rates or ways to buy a home with no money. This section also loads a matrix that displays all the features and requirements of the programs. With Acrobat Reader, you can print all the forms needed to process a mortgage. A feature that I like is “Loan Officer of the Month.” Non-monetary incentives such as this are always welcome.

There is a lot of information in this website, but how does it help Fair Oaks Mortgage get more business? Here is one way. Under the Find A Property tab, there are no less than eight categories of home sources: FHA, VA repos, Fannie and Freddie sales, foreclosure auctions, and MetroList (the local MLS). The good part is that each of these selections is a form of co-marketing with a real estate sales entity. Can you see the potential for relationships with the local real estate companies? The B2B stuff does not stop yet. One of the click options on the home page is a link to MovingSaleClassifieds. This is a website where you can locate a real estate agent, a home, or a lender.

Dan Silverstein, owner of Fair Oaks Mortgage, designed this website with help from Capitol Works, the web professional. He estimates 3000 hits a month and attributes most to the B2B links. Many of his Realtor clients use the site for their home page. The website gets a superlative rating for the following reasons. The graphics are clean, bold, and thematically consistent. Navigation is easy with the tab design and a maximum of three layers throughout. Modest file size and judicious use of elements make it fast loading. The site holds a wealth of industry-related information, brings in loan applications, and creates a rapport with local real estate agents.

by Thor Skonnord