Hey all! Following on from some awesome Fintech Q&A’s we’ve held recently, we’re proud to present a Q&A with Habito this week! Later on this week, CEO Dan Hegarty will be joining us right here to answer all of your questions!
Here’s some info about the company :
For many, the process of getting a mortgage is hellish; hellishly complicated, hellishly costly and hellishly outdated. At Habito, we believe that people shouldn’t have to go through hell to get a mortgage.
Since our launch in 2016, we’ve made it our mission to fundamentally change the way people finance their homes. Whether buying for the first time, remortgaging, moving house or buying as an investment, we’ve developed an award-winning service that gives our customers greater control over their mortgage. We deliver expert advice in real time, cutting-edge technology that gives them access to the best possible deals, plain English conversations and absolutely no fees whatsoever.
To date, we’ve raised £27.5million in funding from Atomico, Ribbit Capital and Mosaic Ventures as well as the founders of Funding Circle and Transferwise. Most importantly, we’ve helped more than 155,000 people get the mortgage they deserve.
We recently launched Habito life insurance, available exclusively to Habito customers with their mortgage. It’s 9 quick questions to assess eligibility. No lengthy forms, and no doctor’s appointments to get medical records. Every Habito customer who qualifies is given free no-strings-attached life insurance cover between the exchange and 30 days after the completion of their house purchase. Backed by AIG and RGA.
In just 2.5 years, Habito have:
• Completed over £1billion in mortgage submissions
• Grown to 120 employees (from 7 in 2016)
• Created a service customers love: 5* Trustscore on Trustpilot, from over 1600 reviews
• Built an award-winning service:
• Digital Top 50 Award for European B2C Startup 2016 from Google, McKinsey and Rocket Internet
• Named as one of Wired’s Top 10 UK startups in 2017
Amazing stuff! Get your questions in and Dan will be here later in the week to answer them
I am loving the wall art!
I’m sure you’ve modelled the mind exploding person on me
I’m looking to buy my first property with my other half in the not too distant future. For first time buyers, what makes you stand out from other mortgage providers and how do you help those that are scared of the process?
I know some people who are sceptical of the fintech mortgage lenders, what do you say to those who believe it is much more difficult to get a mortgage through an app/web-based lender, one that you cannot build a relationship with beforehand and only looks at the numbers and data?
Hello Dan! Really excited to see you and Habito on the forum.
Scaling can be one of the biggest challenges a startup can face. Going from 7 in 2016 to 120 employees now is a meteoric rise how has scaling been for you, and is there any valuable lessons you have that other scrappy startups should know about?
Thanks Jordan - and you’re not alone. A lot of people have commented on our ads saying how much they can relate to our characterisation of mortgage & hell - myself included!
There are many, many people involved in the property purchase process. Essentially, a broker’s role is to find you the very best mortgage product out there. The problem is, at any one time there are more than 20,000 live products in the UK. So for a traditional broker, scouring the whole market is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. What makes us different is that we use cutting-edge technology to do just that but in just a fraction of the time. We find you the best possible deal then it’s over to one of our mortgage experts to advise you on the rest of the process from submission to completion.
I’d say the things that make us stand out from other brokers are 1) we’re free (most will charge a fee of up to £400), 2) we’re online (most require a lot of face-to-face time) and 3) we’re jargon-free (meaning we talk in plain English). Buying your first home is scary, there’s no doubt about that. Our job is to make the mortgage application process as straightforward and empowering as it possibly can be.
We’re passionate about what we do and really enjoy working with partners who share similar values to us. We’re always on the lookout for like-minded companies and innovative firms who have something great to offer customers and who, like us, are tackling the many inherent issues that exist in the world of home-buying and financing.
For us, life insurance and mortgages go hand in hand. Life insurance isn’t something people enjoy thinking about but, without it, your family or partner would be left shouldering the monthly mortgage payments in the event of your death. So for most, it’s essential. That said, taking out a policy can be a really complicated, intrusive and lengthy process - not what you need when you’re sorting out your mortgage. So we decided to try and make things a little easier. Using the information our customers have already provided as part of their mortgage application process, we’ve been able to reduce the length of the forms they have to fill out and cut out medical appointments. We now offer Habito customers no-strings-attached cover for up to 90 days after the exchange of contracts on their home purchase - just so they can have peace of mind as they settle into their new house.
For us, tech and humans are not mutually exclusive. We’ve worked hard to build a business that ensures each plays its part so that the customer gets the very best of both. Essentially, mortgages are a complicated equation of what you earn, your deposit, your future (for example, do you want kids? are you married?) versus the cost of money (interest rates) and the lender’s risk criteria. It would be virtually impossible for a human to do those sums across 20,000 products from 90 lenders within a reasonable timeframe. As a result, most traditional brokers can only compare a handful of deals. Our cutting-edge algorithm removes this issue at the very start of your journey with Habito to give you the best chance of getting the right mortgage. Once that’s done, we put you in touch with one of our industry-leading mortgage experts to help answer any questions, liaise with the lender and advise on the application process, end to end.
Thank you @brenda, it’s great to be here on the Monzo forum. Habito has been amazing fun so far, but also hugely challenging - not least out-growing the office every 3 months. It is kind of reductive, but to me, there are only really three things that matter in a start-up: clarity of purpose, speed of execution and empathy. You (and everybody in the business) need to be totally clear on what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. But, crucially, you need to be able to execute it with agility so you can test, learn and reset really quickly. You need to be able to learn from the how because many, many mistakes will be made along the way. And that’s fine, but a quick recovery is essential. Finally, empathy for me is a key competitive advantage. In a business that puts our customers first by design, we need to feel what they feel and make sure we continue to make things better for them while being respectful and supportive of one another.
This is a question we get all the time @Jackcrwhitney. At school, no one teaches you how to buy a house, much less how to finance it.
Lots of first-time buyers come to us at the beginning of their buying journey to see how much they could borrow. This is so they know their budget and can start looking at suitably-priced homes. Others come to us when they’ve seen a property they like, they’ve made an offer and now need a mortgage. Mortgage offers generally last between 3-6 months, so if you don’t buy the property within that timeframe you would need to apply again. If you find a new property you want to buy, you can ask the lender to amend the offer for a different property. And if you decide not to buy - nothing happens, you wouldn’t get the money for the mortgage as this only happens on completion.
Wow - 2016. You must have been one of our earliest customers. Thanks for trying us out and sorry we didn’t meet your expectations. It’s fair to say we’ve come a long way since then and we definitely tripped over our feet a few times on the way. We’ve had two and a half years to improve the product, partner with even more lenders and grow our expert team to handle more enquiries. We’ve advised over 155,000 people now, so it should all be slicker, faster and more automated but still all with a friendly human on hand to help at any time. If and when you decide to come back to us, I very much hope we can help you out.
On new start-ups - thanks for the recommendation of Juno, I’m a big fan of what Etienne and his team are doing. We do have a relationship with the guys at Nested and Settled who are doing amazing things to help people avoid gazumping and we’re keen to partner with more innovative firms tackling the issues in the home buying process.
I’m the co-founder of Nova Money, an app where people set goals and get feedback on the spending behaviours they need to adopt to reach them.
We want to encourage people to save for their home deposit, do you want to have a chat?