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February 2008
Westlake Village, California
has been acquired by
Palm Beach, Florida


Lower Fees, Inc. (sometimes known as “Fee”), based in California’s Westlake Village, provides consumers with the data, tools and context in which they can understand, negotiate, manage and ultimately reduce the vendor fees associated with closing a residential real estate transaction.  The company also provides real estate professionals and the firms that service real estate transactions with an online platform that can help them identify potential clients and differentiate themselves from their competition.

Founders Mark Zimmerman and Mike Kratzer - two real estate professionals – recognized that buyers and sellers of residential real estate often pay thousands of dollars in unnecessary (or overpriced) fees for services such as title insurance, engineering inspections, termite extinction, radon remediation, escrows, document preparation, appraisals, legal representation and more.  They set out to create a comprehensive data base of real-estate service providers and their fees along with tools and an online platform to help users better understand these fees in a local context.

On February 5th, 2008, Lower Fees, Inc. was acquired by Bankrate, Inc (NASDAQ: RATE), a leading aggregator of financial rate information for American banks and lending institutions.  The acquisition allowed Bankrate to combine Lower Fees mortgage information with Bankrate’s rate tables as part of an effort to provide a more comprehensive, one-stop shopping opportunity for real estate buyers.  At the same time Mike and Mark Kratzer relocated to Florida to assist in the integration.

Marlin & Associates New York LLC worked with Management to develop a strategic approach, managed the process, acted as the exclusive strategic and financial advisor to Lower Fees, Inc.

When Mark and Mike approached Marlin & Associates (“M&A”), Lower Fees was in a relatively early stage of development: technology had been developed; the data base had been completed for several service provider categories and revenue was starting to flow.  Mark and Mike were trying to decide whether they should continue self-funding the business, seek outside capital or contemplate a sale to a strategic partner.

For more than a year, M&A worked with the Company, helping management to refine their business plan and to present that plan to more than a dozen prospective investors and partners.

BankRate Announces Two Acquisitions: InsureMe, Inc. and Lower Fees, Inc

February 05, 2008

NEW YORK, (Feb. 05, 2008) Bankrate, Inc. (Nasdaq: RATE) announced today it has acquired the assets of two companies in separate transactions, InsureMe, Inc. ("InsureMe") based in Englewood, CO, and Lower Fees, Inc. ("Fee Disclosure"), which operates and is located in Westlake Village, CA. The acquisitions were completed on February 5, 2008.

InsureMe ( operates a Web site and a network of hundreds of affiliates that offer consumers competitive insurance rates for auto, home, life, health and long term care. The Company is a marketing resource for thousands of insurance providers across the nation. InsureMe makes money by selling consumer leads to insurance providers, who in turn, provide consumers quotes for a variety of insurance products. The purchase price for InsureMe was $65 million in cash with an additional $20 million in cash in a potential earn–out based on achieving specific financial performance metrics over the next two years.

"We’ve talked in the past about our interest in extending our footprint into this important vertical channel," said Thomas R. Evans, President and CEO of Bankrate, Inc. "InsureMe is a great asset with which to broaden our consumer offering," Mr. Evans added.

InsureMe is managed by Tim McTavish, who founded the company in 1993. InsureMe will continue to operate out of the company’s headquarters in Englewood, CO. Tim McTavish will continue to run the business.

"Joining forces with Bankrate will help bring InsureMe to the next level in helping consumers find the best rates on insurance," said Tim McTavish, President of InsureMe. "We’re excited to join Bankrate; this transaction will help us to grow our business and continue to provide valuable services to consumers," Mr. McTavish added.

Fee Disclosure ( empowers consumers with comprehensive information on mortgage transaction and closing fees. Fee Disclosure, founded by Mark Zimmerman and Mike Kratzer in 2005, has created an online platform to provide transparency to vendor fees during the mortgage process. The company provides information and rates on a local level for a variety of products including title, inspection escrow, hazard and appraisal fees. Mr. Zimmerman, Mr. Kratzer, and all operations will move to Bankrate’s North Palm Beach, Florida office.

"Fee Disclosure brings transparency for consumers to the many fees associated with applying for and closing a mortgage transaction," said Thomas R. Evans, President and CEO of Bankrate. "In combination with our rate tables, this information provides an important and valuable one–stop shopping opportunity for consumers," Mr. Evans stated.

"At a time when legislators and regulators are concerned about transparency, our fee information will enhance Bankrate’s offering to consumers," said Mike Kratzer, President of Fee Disclosure. "Bankrate is the ideal environment for us to leverage our unique content and expertise," Mr. Kratzer commented.

Increase in 2008 Guidance

Bankrate is revising and increasing its 2008 guidance, which was previously announced during the company’s December 10, 2007 conference call. As a result of the acquisitions of InsureMe and Fee Disclosure, along with the anticipated growth in the company’s core business, Bankrate is now forecasting revenues of between $167 and $172 million dollars, and EBITDA of between $64 and $68 million dollars. The low end of the guidance represents a 75% increase in revenue and a 54% increase in EBITDA in 2008 over 2007.

About InsureMe

InsureMe, an Englewood, Colorado–based company, links insurance agents and consumers nationwide through its Web site and hundreds of affiliate partners. Since 1993, InsureMe has helped millions of people find insurance coverage while providing thousands of agents with high quality, real–time leads.

About Fee Disclosure

Based in Westlake Village, California, Fee Disclosure has developed a patent pending online portal to create an open marketplace to break down complicated vendor fees associated with the mortgage process. Fee Disclosure empowers consumers with comprehensive information to make smart real estate decisions and reduce their real estate and mortgage transaction costs. The company’s systems promotes and markets local real estate service providers.

About Bankrate, Inc.

Bankrate, Inc. (Nasdaq: RATE) ("Bankrate") owns and operates, a leading Internet consumer banking marketplace. is a destination site of personal finance channels, including banking, investing, taxes, debt management and college finance. Bankrate is the leading aggregator of more than 300 financial products, including mortgages, credit cards, new and used auto loans, money market accounts and CDs, checking and ATM fees, home equity loans and online banking fees. Bankrate reviews more than 4,800 financial institutions in 575 markets in 50 states. In 2006, had nearly 53 million unique visitors. Bankrate provides financial applications and information to a network of more than 75 partners, including Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO), America Online (NYSE: TWX), The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times (NYSE: NYT). Bankrate’s information is also distributed through more than 400 national and state publications. In addition to, Bankrate also owns and operates Bankrate Select, an Internet lead aggregator, Mortgage–, which provides consumers with financial calculators, Mortgage Market Information Services, Inc. and, Inc., each of which publishes mortgage guides and financial rates and information, Nationwide Card Services (NCS), which markets a comprehensive line of consumer and business credit cards via the Internet and, the premier Internet destination for objective information about 529 college savings plans.

Marlin and Associates New York LLC acted as exclusive strategic and financial advisor to Lower Fees (Fee Disclosure).

About Marlin & Associates

Founded in 2002, Marlin & Associates New York LLC is a boutique investment banking and strategic consulting firm focused on providing highly strategic, transaction–related services to U.S. and international middle–market firms engaged in technology, information, on–line media and business services. Marlin & Associates’ professionals have advised on over 200 successfully completed transactions in the sector. The firm is based in New York City with a Washington, DC office and has been the recipient of numerous awards.

In December, Marlin & Associates was recognized as the Middle Market Investment Banking Firm of the Year. In addition, Marlin took top honors in three "Deal–of–the–Year" categories. In July, the firm was acknowledged as the Middle Market Financing Agent of the Year — Equity, and also was awarded honors in three Middle Market Financing "Deal–of–the–Year" categories.


Michael Maxworthy | (646) 495–5141 | |

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