Sunday, 9 July 2017

Habito - The Digital Mortgage Broker

Habito is an online, digital mortgage broker, through Mumsnet they were looking for people to test their service.  As our fixed rate has come to an end we have been looking at remortgaging but we have also seen somewhere with some land we are interested in buying also however as that has a large acreage we have been told by a mortgage advisor this would need to be mortgaged commercially.
Habito say:
"At habito, we believe that getting a mortgage should not be a scary experience. Whether you’re doing it for the first time or are an experienced remortgaging veteran, the process should be fast, transparent and painless.

First and foremost you need to know how much you can borrow, so we start with a proper ‘mortgage calculator’ (we call it a habito mortgage illustration) which asks you a few questions then gives you an accurate illustration of what you could get, it allows you to change certain numbers and factors to understand which inputs affect your total amount and/or repayments.

At that point, if you wish, you can sign up and have a live chat session (or phone call if you prefer) with one of our certified mortgage experts to fine tune your application, find the right mortgage for you based on true cost, and submit it to your chosen lender for approval. And the entire process can be done in a few hours, rather than weeks. For free. And with no commitment or credit checks until you agree to submit your application."

So I logged on to - it was easy enough to create an account, literally email address and password, that is all that you need.  The online form is simple and inviting when you initially click through, it also works well on mobile.
One of the questions isn't clear which is the 'How much do you earn each year?  Please enter your total income before tax'  I wasn't sure whether this was joint income or just my income.  Husband also receives dividends and it doesn't make it clear whether these should be included. I only put my income in and once I clicked continue I couldn't find any way to go back a page.  I had to go back to the beginning and start a new process.  I wasn't sure about dividends so asked the question via live chat, they were quick coming back to me and advised it is just normal income without dividends.  I think they could do with a little button next to this with more info advising it is the joint income and without and other income from other sources.
When you get your illustration you then go onto a following page where you have to put further info in for both applicants.  Unfortunately if you do make a mistake there is no way of going back but if you do speak to an advisor they will then be able to amend anything incorrect.

Once you have completed these forms you go through the usual questions about whether there are any life changing events etc.  They also mention life insurance and work with Zurich to offer policies with about 6-10% discount. 

After this you have to chat (either online or by phone) to an advisor, their opening hours are: 
  • Monday & Tuesday: 9am-9pm 
  • Wednesday, Thursday & Friday: 9am-5pm 
  • Sunday: 12-5pm
I think it would be a good idea to have mentioned these opening times at the start of the application process as you would want to sit down and do it all at the same time, not get so far then find you can't continue. 

I clicked on start chat and it looked as though it was loading but it wouldn't connect. I then realised there was a little number one on the chat icon bottom right so I clicked on that which opened the chat but it was showing as being 'away.'  However I did manage to then speak to someone online.

I was a bit annoyed that two of the questions the mortgage advisor asked were already answered in my application and he wanted to confirm income figures but he had noted them down all incorrect so it just seemed like he had rushed looking through it all.  I advised him our fixed rate with Lloyds had come to an end and he responded with 'Llloyds will reward loyalty with high rates, so you have to get away from them as soon as possible!'  Something else that got my back up slightly as I cannot stand companies slagging off other companies - all they are trying to do is to get you to go with themselves and I think it is a pushy and disgusting sales tactic.  
Once the advisor has confirmed any info that perhaps isn't clear then the process is as follows:

'The live chat is the start of the journey, here is what happens next:
1.We'll research the market for the best product available for you (you can close this chat and don't need to stay online - we have everything we need from you for now).
2. We'll send you a ‘Key Facts Illustration’ (KFI) in 2 working days. We'll recommend a specific mortgage product that we think best matches your needs and circumstances (we'll send it to you by email, and you can review it at your leisure)

3. You let us know if you're happy to proceed to an Application with the lender(s). This will involve a credit check and we will need enough documents to confirm your identity, income and address.
4. We'll manage the process through to completion. From this point on we will liaise directly with your lender and update you regularly on the progress of your case

Please let us know if you have any other questions along the way - we're always here to help!'

So overall I fell quite negatively about Habito as I still feel quite put off that they were putting other companies down, I hate this type of sales tactic.  I also expected to get a list of available mortgages giving me how much I could borrow, monthly figures etc  I didn't get an accurate illustration as I couldn't include the dividends which are our main source of income.  It also doesn't give you any idea on monthly cost.  So to be honest it isn't something I would use again as I expected to get more information through without having to wait for them to search the market.  I can use an online calculator with Moneysupermarket and see a list of available lenders, their fees, interest rates, monthly cost etc at the touch of a button.  Perhaps someone who is a first time buyer and is searching the market for a new mortgage it would be a really good tool for.  They have  the backup of someone being there to help with questions but they also can start the process online today without having to wait for an appointment with someone.  If they could speed up the process and get the information generated like other calculator do then it would be a lot more useful.

I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity. I have received a voucher in return for writing this post. 

UPDATE 14.07.2017
Habito have since read my blog and will be rolling out some updates to their site which address some of the points I have raised such as being able to go back and amend figures.  They are looking at putting more info next to the income box to explain what figures are needed.

They have also said they are constantly training staff and confirmed that the experts don't work on commission so should have no need to push their services.  I am impressed they have taken the points on board and arranged to improve things. 

I have also since received a list of suitable mortgages, the rates seem to be the same as if I were to go direct to those lenders.  However they did recommend a lender I hadn't found that worked out better than the others which was Digital Mortgages (Atom Bank), I am a bit wary of using companies I have not heard of but they did manage to find these whereas I hadn't.