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Online mortgage brokers

These days you can find and apply for a mortgage at the touch of a button. Find out how online mortgage brokers work, the differences between companies including Habito and Trussle, and the pros and cons of using one

In this article
How do online mortgage brokers work? Table: online mortgage brokers compared Can robo advisers prevent over-borrowing?
Pros and cons of using an online mortgage broker Should I use an online mortgage broker?

How do online mortgage brokers work?

Online mortgage brokers – sometimes referred to as 'robo advisers' – allow you to carry out most of the mortgage comparison and application process online, without speaking to a mortgage broker in an office or over the phone. 

This might mean submitting details about your mortgage search to a chatbot, filling in an online form, or selecting options in an app.

Some of these services claim that you can find and apply for a mortgage in just 15 minutes, at the touch of a button – a process that can potentially be much faster than speaking to a broker or carrying out extensive mortgage searches yourself.

However, there will be still be paperwork to go through, and human mortgage brokers will still be used at some point in the process in order to make sure your application is correct and legally binding.

Table: online mortgage brokers compared

The table below shows how six of the biggest online mortgage brokers work, including how they make their money, who tends to use them, whether they will look at every deal on the market and how human advisers are used in the process.

Provider Whole of
market?
How do they earn
commission?
Key customer
demographics
When do you
speak to a human?
Habito Can help with
applications for
90 lenders.
If the
best deal is
elsewhere,
you’ll be
advised to
go to the
lender directly.
Lenders pay
a procuration
fee.
Over 130,000
people have
used Habito.
Half of these
are looking to
remortgage,
and a large
proportion are
first-time buyers.
After you’ve
received your
chatbot-
generated
recommendation.
Human advisers
can be
contacted
on live chat
at any time.
Trussle Have access to
over 11,000
deals offered
by 90 lenders.
Lenders pay
a procuration
fee -
usually 0.3%.
More than two-thirds of
customers are
over 35, and 87%
live outside
London. Nearly
60% are looking
to remortgage
their homes,
and 43% are
buying
new homes.
Usually customers
are contacted
by a mortgage
adviser after
completing
their profile –
you can chat to
someone in
customer
services before
this through
live chat.
Dynamo Works with 19
lenders, which
offer more than
90% of
mortgage products
on the market.
Lenders pay a
procuration fee.
Mortgage
advisers
do not receive
commission.
Customers are
all existing
homeowners
as only remortgage
products are available.
This is set to expand
to home movers
and first-time buyers
later this year.
Customers add
their personal
information, at
which point
a mortgage
adviser calls
them to talk
through their 
options. After
this, the
process
is carried
out online.
MortgageGym Yes – with access
to products from
more than
100 lenders.
Mortgage advisers
pay to subscribe
to the service,
and they are
paid by lenders.
Has services
available for
first-time buyers,
remortgage
customers and
home movers.

Can speak to
a mortgage
broker at
any point, but
generally you’re
given mortgage
matches from
the details you
provide, and can
then choose a
MortgageGym
broker to make a 
final decision and
sort your
application. 

Hoocht Mortgages are
chosen from
a panel of
79 lenders.
Lenders pay a
procuration fee.
Mortgage
advisers do
not receive 
commission.
Customer ages 
range from
28-60, and
over 60% of
customers are
purchasing new
homes or 
first-time
buyers.
Can chat to a
human via the
chat box facility
at any stage,
but generally
full mortgage
advice is given
at the stage
of recommending
a product.
This is usually
via the
chat box,
or sometimes
over the phone.
Mojo
Mortgages
Yes (exact
number of
lenders
was not
revealed).
Lenders pay a
procurement fee.
Over half of all
customers are
between 26 and 40
years old. 27% of
customers are
first-time buyers.
Customers are
asked to book an
appointment with
a mortgage
adviser after
completing an 
online form and
receiving a
recommendation.
However, you can
speak to an
adviser at any point.

 

Can robo advisers prevent over-borrowing?

While tighter regulations were introduced in 2014 to protect homebuyers from overborrowing, nothing is foolproof. 

Traditionally, affordability assessments have been used to see how much you spend – not just on bills or rent, but gym memberships, eating out, holidays and sometimes even childcare – as well as how much you earn.

A human mortgage adviser will go through your bank statement and take all of your outgoings into account when recommending a mortgage. 

Arguably, an algorithm is less able to account for these nuances and make judgements about whether you can really afford to borrow the maximum amount available to you for a mortgage.

Online brokers do have systems in place, however. For example, MortgageGym has paired its service with Experian, meaning existing credit and borrowing commitments are automatically taken into account (and with only a soft credit check). 

There are also future plans to launch integrated income and expenditure assessments by using open banking technology to gain insight into customers’ current accounts.

The other online brokers have human mortgage advisers on hand who will look at credit reports, loan statements and other records to assess customers’ borrowing capacity, and check to see if the AI-generated mortgage options are suitable.

Pros and cons of using an online mortgage broker

Searching and applying for a mortgage using a chatbot or app can be a convenient option for those who don’t have the time, knowledge or confidence to do it themselves.

Pros of online mortgage brokers

  • Flexibility You don’t need a face-to-face meeting or phone call with a mortgage broker, meaning you don’t need to restrict yourself to office hours – you can find a deal at any time of day, from wherever you are.
  • Less paperwork Papers are replaced with online forms, which can be filled out at your convenience. What’s more, some services will help you with these forms, too, meaning there's less chance of human error. You’ll be asked to provide documents to verify your identity and finances, but often these can just be scanned and sent over. 
  • Speed The use of technology and algorithms means your mortgage options can be found more quickly than in a manual human search.
  • Fees In most cases, you won’t need to pay for the advice you receive from robo mortgage services.

Cons of online mortgage brokers

  • Less opportunity for human judgement Fully automated services can sometimes overlook factors of more complicated circumstances – for instance, the cheapest deals aren’t always the most suitable options.
  • Less help in the early stages A good mortgage broker will give you advice on saving and schemes before you’re ready to apply for a mortgage. Some online services offer calculators to give you an idea of how much you’ll be able to borrow, but in most cases this can't be classed as actual advice, and isn’t tailored to your situation.

Should I use an online mortgage broker?

This really depends on your circumstances and the kind of service you want.

For straightforward cases, particularly if you’re looking to remortgage, using a robo adviser can be a very quick and easy option – especially if you work unsociable hours and would struggle to find time to talk to a traditional broker.

If your circumstances are more complicated, however, you might benefit from having tailored support from an expert adviser earlier on in the process.

To find out about more traditional mortgage brokers, see our guide on choosing a mortgage broker.

Whether you’re thinking about using an online broker or a human one, you should always check to see whether they’re FCA-registered – you can search for them on the FCA’s database.

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