It’s time to break tradition. Meet the start-up using cutting-edge technology to bring mortgage brokers into the 21st century.
We’re in the middle of generation rent, where a mortgage is either a distant dream or a flat-out impossibility for more and more young people.
Skyrocketing house prices and a confusing mortgage application process is putting off people who might even be in a position to buy. Traditional mortgages are complex, relentless and full of fees.
But there’s hope. Habito, the world’s first online mortgage broker, is dragging the home-buying process into the modern world, with a quick and easy digital application process. Data is here to save the day.
We spoke to Daniel Hegarty, Founder & CEO of Habito, about how his mortgage start-up is breaking the mould and changing what customers can expect from personal finance.
How does Habito work?
We wanted to do things differently. So, we developed a new way of letting customers search for mortgages. We can analyse over 20,000 mortgage products across seventy lenders in real-time, which identifies the best mortgage based on an individual’s circumstances. We’ve helped 72,000 customers with their mortgages and processed £420 million in applications – for free and entirely online.
Why did mortgages need disrupting?
Our research found that two-thirds of first-time buyers find the idea of applying for a mortgage terrifying and one out of four suffer from “mortgage mismatch.” That means they’re on the wrong mortgage – overpaying by over £4,000 per-year-per-person according to HSBC. Yet, only a small minority of people decide to go through the hassle of remortgaging.
Considering the transformational impact that technology has had on other aspects of people’s lives, it’s hard to believe the mortgage application process is no different today to thirty years ago.
What’s your experience of young people struggling to get on the property ladder?
Government schemes can lift some of the pressure of saving for a deposit, but it’s still a tough spot for young, first-time buyers to be in. What many people don’t realise is, mortgaging smartly may ease them out of this. There are mortgages to be had with just a 5% deposit; it’s harder to get accepted by a lender but by using our proprietary search algorithm, they can improve their chances of finding a mortgage that’s suited to their circumstances.
Are the digital needs of millennials and other digital natives fuelling the growth of disruptive start-ups?
In the early days of disruptive start-ups, digital natives were a key driver for the growth of start-ups – both on the founder and customer side. But, as disruptive companies have become more mainstream, the demand for tech-driven solutions has grown across all audience segments. Grandparents in their seventies are on Facebook, parents use Twitter efficiently, and people of all ages watch Netflix and shop on Amazon. Seamless, cost-efficient digital services are now expected by all generations and affect every industry.
Why are chatbots so key in shaking up slow-moving industries?
Chatbots are just another interface paradigm. They put the customer back in control of when and where they want to communicate and allow us to automate common parts of the process. I think we’ll start to see the first raft of real consumer benefit from the coupling of AI and voice-based interfaces this year. There’s been a lot of hype up to now with Alexa, Siri and Google’s home assistant so, applications that can make a real difference are beginning to emerge.
How do you ensure that businesses and customers using Habito trust machines instead of relying on a person?
Only machines can sort through all 20,000 mortgage products on the market in a matter of seconds. There’s no other way to find the one mortgage that fits a customer’s circumstances with such precision and speed. We recognise the importance of human interaction when customers are making one of the most significant financial decisions of their lives. That’s why we focus on having humans and machines work in harmony to deliver unparalleled service for consumers.
What’s the five-year plan for Habito?
We would love for Habito to have helped prompt a cultural shift in the way people think about mortgages – from them being an expensive, scary hassle – to being something that is as easy to switch as your broadband or utility provider. Also, we’re developing a suite of simple insurance products that are free of confusing industry jargon and painless to apply for.
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