Looking for a New Mortgage with Digital Broker Habito

With our ever-hopeful new home quest, I have had a few quick looks at what we can borrow, rates etc, but not given it too much thought.  First time round, more than a decade ago, it was pretty stressful, with everything still being on paper or via phone calls, so to be honest I am rather dreading sourcing and arranging a new mortgage.  But it will have to be done at some point, so when I heard of new digital mortgage broker habito's aim to make mortgages simpler and easier - online, I thought I best have a look.

habito works solely online as a digital mortgage broker, allowing customers to go through a series of questions to get an idea of what they could borrow.  They can then go on to talk to an expert either online or on the phone.  It's all designed to make researching and applying for a mortgage or re-mortgage as simple and stress-free as possible, and aims to make the mortgage process fast, transparent and painless.

Here's how it works:

The first step is to find out how much you can borrow, so they start with a mortgage calculator that asks you a few questions then gives an accurate illustration of what you could borrow.  This 5 minute process starts with a welcome screen asking if you are looking for a new mortgage or a re-mortgage, then a welcome screen pops up.

I was reassured to hear that habito have experience with buy-to-let, shared ownership, Help to Buy, mortgages for self-employed people, contractors and more as, being self-employed, I am more worried than I would be having a job and payslips etc.  There is also an opportunity to talk the process through with a real human being which may be reassuring for anyone who doesn't want to do everything online.

A help screen also pops up offering a PDF guide to download for reference if you are new to mortgages altogether, although it's also a great refresher if you haven't done this for a long time, like me.

It then asks what type of mortgage you're looking for and progresses accordingly; followed by a screen telling you that you are: "Less than 5 minutes to see what your next mortgage will look like".

You then input the usual info on income, savings, deposit available etc and a simple outline of any credit debts and repayments, before saying what kind of mortgage value might be available to you.

I was a little concerned that there was no question about whether applicants were employed or self-employed, which I have seen on other lenders and brokers sites.  There was also no information on exactly what to include in income, e.g. child benefit or income from other sources.

The calculator couldn't come up with anything for me initially, but you can go back at any point and tweak different elements so I did, and then got a higher loan amount than other sites we've looked at have suggested.  I wonder if this was because those sites had asked for specific information about my self-employed income over the past 3 to 5 years and adjusted accordingly.

Of course, I could have just picked up the phone or opened the IM window, but I wanted to see how far the mortgage illustration app would take me and how easy it was to use.

Having received my illustration snapshot, the next step would be to sign up and have a live chat session (or phone call if preferred) with one of habito's certified mortgage experts.  This would help fine tune the application and help find a suitable mortgage.  All this is available without a credit check, so no worries about it impacting on your file.

You can even ask them to submit your application online and, with this quick and easy process, the entire process can be finished in just a few hours, rather than weeks as it used to be using traditional methods - and lots of paperwork!!

Our opinion

I well remember teaching full-time whilst trying to juggle the whole mortgage application process last time, so this online option seems a thousand times easier.  My only concern is that, because of our slightly unusual circumstances, the mortgage illustration we received may be rather inaccurate, but of course it wouldn't be too hard to have an online or on phone chat to somebody and habito to find out.  It certainly looks like a far easier way to approach mortgage applications than endless paperwork and phone tag.  Well worth a try, just head over to habito.com

So, the next step for us is to set up an account and register to speak to a real person.  Those new keys may well be within reach after all!

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