Is Google Getting Into Mortgages?

Google's got tentacles everywhere—and it just grows and grows and grows. But here's a head-scratcher: News has surfaced that suggests Google's getting into the mortgage business. Specifically, the loan aggregation business. What gives?

google-mortgage-houseThe data has popped up in a new law suit brought by LendingTree—an online business that acts as a lead-generation system for mortgages, refinancing and home equity loans. The target of its suit is Mortech, one of its tech suppliers which was supposed to have an exclusive deal with LendingTree. But somehow LendingTree discovered that Mortech was working with someone else, and brought the suit. That suspected third party is Google.

Essentially LendingTree is alleging Mortech is violating contractual exclusivity to help Google get into the online mortgage aggregation business. Within the suit's text is the following direct reference to Google's services: LendingTree has "obtained 'screen shots' of the trial version of Google's service that further indicate that, like LendingTree's service, Google will provide customers with conditional loan offers in addition to lenders' contact information." Basically it looks like Google's expanding the suite of services it offers to include helping connect you up with a mortgage provider. There's no data on specifically how, but one can wonder if Google will offer it up as a separate Web page, thanks to its very specific nature, or possibly include hyperlinks to mortgage offers when you use its search engine to perform property searches. Google's declined to comment on the suit, merely saying its development in this direction so far is limited to a "small ad test unit" that it's trialing in the U.S.

All of this kind of adds up—Google's ability to string together different pieces of information in response to search queries is what makes it so useful, and it's such a big player that Mortech would certainly be tempted to work with it. Adding a mortgage-finder to its service, even if it were via a simple context-aware ad placement, would certainly be another weapon it could use in the ongoing search engine war. Meanwhile, LendingTree is wary of Google's power, and even suggests that by working with Mortech it's getting its hands on "secret" information known to Mortech, and which could compromise LendingTrees business. Would Google be that underhanded, to steal a march in a totally new branch of business?

[via The Wall Street Journal]

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