First Star Bancorp
This is a pre-review, as we are still looking into the possibility of obtaining a mortgage through this company and have not yet even applied. I did want to mention a few things that impressed me about their direct-mailing, mainly by comparison with other direct mailings:
- The letter was not alarmist ("OMG YOUR RATES WILL BE INCREASING SOON!!!111")
- The letter seems to have been actually signed by a human (slight smear on the ink, and matching indentations on the back of the paper), one Mitch Hostetler
- The business card enclosed with the letter had the same name on it
- The business card had four different phone numbers on it, including Mr. Hostetler's cellphone and email address (yay!), as well as the company's web site
- The email address actually used the same domain name as the web site (rather than making the common gaffe of having an AOL or HotMail address)
- Mr. Hostetler's name is one of only five on the staff directory, and there is a bio as well
- Overall, I haven't yet seen anything stupid or annoying about the web site, which is quite unusual for a small business site.
The only negative point seems to be the lack of an online payment facility.
I have sent Mr. Hostetler an email with a few questions in it, and we shall see what happens next.
2008-11-15 update: we ended up getting the loan through them; they immediately turned around and sold it (as we more or less expected) to Countrywide Financial, which has been working ok. They did help resolve an accounting anomaly resulting from the switchover between our previous mortgage lender and Countrywide.