The online mortgage industry is chock full of online platforms that match buyers and lenders. Although lending has slowed and credit is tight, sites like LendingTree, Bankrate, SmartHippo and other sites still provide a valuable marketplace for finding mortgages for those who still qualify. LendingTree, which was spun off from parent company IAC in 2007, is overhauling its site to offer more than just mortgages; the site is also trying to be a personal finance guide for consumers, sort of along the lines of what Mint.com does, but targeted towards real estate.
The new site is adding a bunch of new tools to help potential buyers improve and monitor their financial health. The site’s MoneyRight feature helps you create a budget, offers tips on how to reduce expenses, calculates your financial health and categorizes your spending. MyCredit will monitor your credit reports and alert you when your score changes. Ask the Tree is a personal finance question and answer tool where you can get any money questions answered by a professional. Though Ask the Tree isn’t really the most reassuring name for a personal finance information source.
The site is also adding several mortgage and loan-focused tools such as a Refinance Payment Calculator, which will determine if you should refinance your current home or consider buying a new one; and a Lender Scorecard, which give you detailed rankings of LendingTree lenders with customer reviews.
It’s not surprising that LendingTree is making a move towards becoming more than just a mortgage marketplace. Now more than ever, consumers are looking to improve their financial health and educate themselves on the best practices. But I’m not sure if consumers will know to look to LendingTree for advice and resources on financial health considering its brand as a mortgage marketplace. It may be tough to become the new Mint.com.