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IndyMac Bancorp

The Project: Link the mortgage bank to loan brokers nationwide over the Web, allowing brokers to submit and track their client's loans.

The Payoff: Helped drive down the cost of processing loans, pushing up profits 25% this year.

If getting a mortgage seems easier or cheaper than it used to, consider giving thanks to Michael W. Perry, CEO of Pasadena (Calif.)-based IndyMac Bancorp (NDE) Inc. Back in 1998, Perry wanted to expand his mortgage bank, but without all the expensive offices the giants had. Instead, he decided to use the Web to build a low-cost network of loan brokers. The system enabled flexible, risk-based mortgage pricing by allowing brokers to submit and track their clients' applications over the Net.

The result: Despite a slowdown in refinancing, IndyMac's profits are expected to grow 25% this year. Because giants such as Countrywide Home Loans (CCR) Inc. and Washington Mutual (WM) Inc. were forced to play catch-up and mimic IndyMac's Web system, IndyMac has helped drive the industry's cost of processing loans down about 40% over the past three years. And Perry predicts that within a couple years, you'll be able to close a home-purchase loan within a week, compared with six weeks today. By Timothy J. Mullaney

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