Anticipating that the competition to close sales will increase as interest rates rise in 2004, GE Mortgage Insurance launched a Web site in January that lets builders offer buyers up to $2,000 in discounts on consumer items. Builders can sign on for free.

Here's how it works: Once the buyer signs a sales agreement, he or she can log on to and access up to $1,500 in discounts from companies such as The Home Depot, Avis, ADT Security Systems, and Penske Truck Rental. If the deal closes and the buyer opts to sign on with GE Mortgage Insurance, that buyer receives an additional $500 bonus card that can be used at Best Buy, The Home Depot, and Target.

“We're looking ahead to a time when there will be a lot more competition for loans,'' says Tim Foley, vice president of national accounts marketing at GE Mortgage Insurance, who adds that the Web site will have links to roughly 10 participating lenders and standard information on the home buying process.

Builders who sign on will also be eligible for 10 percent to 15 percent discounts from GE companies that sell to the building industry, including GE Appliances, GE Supply, and GE Vendor Financial Services. GE Mortgage is also offering free Web site development for builders who need help starting Web sites or want to post GEHomeBuyer NOW to their Web site.