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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