Renamed loan site iOwn starts $10 mil campaign

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In the latest move in what has turned into something of a name-change frenzy among Internet companies, HomeShark today rebrands itself iOwn.

The San Francisco-based company is making the move to allow more leeway in the types of businesses it enters beyond home loans, said Barbara Heinrich, senior VP-marketing.

In addition, Ms. Heinrich said iOwn captures the emotional implications of achieving ownership of a home and other major purchases.

"The end game is owning that home," she said, not simply finding a loan.

IOwn, which also is changing its Web address from homeshark.com to iown.com, competes with E-loan, Lending Tree, MS Home Advisor and Quicken Mortgages. Unlike competitors, which refer loan applicants to other companies, iOwn processes loans itself.

Another competitor, Allapartments, in February changed its name to SpringStreet to expand its base beyond apartment hunters to those looking for homes and mortgages.

To kick off the new company name, iOwn this week launches a TV branding campaign in three cities--Dallas, Atlanta and San Francisco--developed by Citron Haligman Bedecarre, San Francisco.

The TV spots are airing during sports, financial and home programming as well as non-prime-time slots.

The campaign also includes radio spots and print ads.

The ads are tagged "iOwn, the best loans online."

Advertising, with spending in the $10 million range, is expected to run nationally later this year.

BOASTING BIGGER LOANS

IOwn's average loan amount for the first quarter of 1999 was $171,329, compared with the national average $135,450, according to company data. The company also boasts that it closed some $160 million in loans in the first quarter of the year and, unlike competitors, less than one-third of the loans were made in California. California seems to have higher-than-average acceptance of conducting loan transactions online, company officials said.

Ms. Heinrich said although only 3% of mortgages were estimated to have been shopped for online in 1998, analysts expect that number to grow to 25% to 30% by 2003.

Copyright April 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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