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Q: I'm in the market for a mortgage. What can I do to make this process less tedious?

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Q: I'm in the market for a mortgage. What can I do to make this process less tedious?

A: Knocking on bank doors and meeting with loan officers may soon become a thing of the past, thanks to the rise of online mortgage marketplaces that make it easier to search for the best mortgage rate.

At eloan.com, you can shop for the best deal among more than 70 lenders. Choose a loan, fill out the application, and within a day, E-Loan will call you to let you know if you've been preapproved; it will also refer you to other professionals -- appraisers, notaries, and title insurers -- who can pay house calls if needed. Additionally, E-Loan will continue to monitor your mortgage over the life of the loan, alerting you to refinancing opportunities.

Manhattan-based mortgageit.com provides a similar service, offering a market of 120 lenders. What sets this company apart -- in addition to its offering 24-hour customer service Monday through Friday -- is a personal touch. Your application is reviewed by an actual human being instead of a computer-run algorithm before being presented to potential lenders.

Lendingtree.com forwards your application form to lenders who, based on your income, your credit history, and the property's location, are most likely to green-light your loan. Within a day, you'll get up to four responses from competing lenders. (If no offers are forthcoming, LendingTree will discuss why your application was declined.) Then you compare offers and click on the best one.


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