CHARLOTTE-Only seven months old with $120 million of loans already on the books, locally-based MortgageRamp’s presence in the fiercely-competitive online commercial mortgage business has climbed another notch with a second-round financing award of $50 million.

A consortium of venture capitalists, led by Banc of America Mortgage Capital Corp., is betting the seven-month-old financial services firm will emerge as the leader in a sales-sensitive industry that is seeing several firms on the selling block and older competitiors such as Redbricks and CapitalThinking already out of the arena.

“What we think we are doing differently is providing a combination of the technological and the personal approach,” MortgageRamp CEO Michael H. Greco tells “We recognized early on that the world isn’t really ready yet for 100 percent cyber loans.”

Besides Banc of America Mortgage Capital Corp., a subsidiary of Bank of America Corp., players in the $50 million funding are Deutsche Bank, Allied Capital Corp., Bank United, Compaq Computers Corp., Fannie Mae, Moody’s Investors Services Inc., Standard and Poors (a division of the McGraw Hill Cos. Inc.) and VerticalNet. MortgageRamp’s majority backer is GMAC Commercial Mortgage which provided a total $25 million initial funding package in May of this year.

Greco believes his firm’s Call Me Now feature, jointly developed with Cisco Corp., is the key to the young company’s success to date. The program provides instant chatting with a user, walking and talking the candidate through each step of the mortgage application process.

“We also realized from the beginning that to be successful, an online mortgage business would have to be user-friendly every step of the way,” Greco says. For example, if the Call Me Now feature doesn’t answer every user’s question, the user may call a MortgageRamp professional immediately for the answers.

“So far as I know, there is no other commercial online mortgage business using this combination service approach for users today,” Greco says.

He feels competitors and those firms that have already left the mortgage business scene didn’t possibly understand the vagaries of the industry. “It takes at least three years to make it in this business,” says Greco, “but to survive, you have to have other businesses going for you at the same time.”

MortgageRamp, for example, is a five-business organization employing a staff of 100 professionals. Besides its 25-person online retail operation, the company offers the QuickRampsm origination platform, a private label service, the BOSSsm (back office services and systems) and related financial services.

The $50 million funding will be used to develop new products and strategies that will reduce the time between the loan origination and closing. Mortgage Ramp has closed on 40 loans to date with the typical loan averaging $3.5 million.

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