Five years ago one of my dreams came true: I bought my first home!
As exciting as it may sound, I have to say that I did NOT enjoy the process…
Like most first-time home buyers, I had little guidance on where to start when I made up my mind to move forward with this significant project.
Back then, the only clear thing in my mind was that a property would cost much more than I had saved and that I would need to get a mortgage.
Like 99% of Millennials, I went online to gather information and learn more about the process. Since I needed a loan and needed to know how much I would be able to afford, my first step was to explore a mortgage lender’s website. Because I had bank accounts with different financial institutions, I chose first to visit the one I knew would offer me the best experience online.
The visit was brief and boring but gave me a satisfactory idea of how much I would be able to borrow and the mortgage rates available for me. Even though I found some guidelines, it taught me little about how to deal with the next steps. While I felt bombarded by call-to-actions trying to seduce me to talk to a Loan Officer, fill out a Pre-Approval form, or Apply for a mortgage on the spot, I had no intention of doing so. Like most people, I’ve always had a fervent desire to find my dream home, but never my “dream mortgage”. At that moment, I was most excited to start searching for properties!
I visited as many listing websites as possible. I probably visited every listing website available on the market only to later realize that there was very little difference between them. Yes, I certainly enjoyed browsing websites with a great user experience and features like neighbourhood data, but I soon realized that MLS listings are MLS listings, no matter which site you use to search for properties.
While the financing part of the project was still unclear to me, the confusion grew when I started visiting properties and working with multiple realtors. One had little interest in providing the level of service that I was expecting, while others would harass me through emails, calls and even text messages trying to get my business but giving little attention to my personal needs.
Before committing to working with a specific realtor, I wanted to make sure I could trust the person and know that I had all the information availableto feel comfortable with such an important financial decision.
After talking to multiple realtors, I realized that their primary concern was if I had been pre-approved by a lender. Back then, I had no idea such a thing was required as my bank’s website had already informed how much I could afford. Two months had passed since the beginning of my venture. I felt like I had made little progress and stress was building up with winter approaching.
I decided that it was time to do what I was avoiding most, walk in my branch and talk to my banker. After all, I trust these folks to keep and manage my money so I should trust them with helping me buying a property. As the loyal client I am, I was also hoping to get the best rate and the most personalized service. I have to say that this part of the process was undoubtedly one of my biggest disappointments. After missing three lunch hours to meet face-to-face with my Account Manager, multiple emails and phone calls, she was not able to match some of the rates I found online! That’s when I learned this shocking fact that could be the topic of a story in and of itself: A Mortgage Broker can get a better rate from a bank than a customer visiting their own branch!
So that’s what I turned to, the standard service of a mortgage broker found on a mortgage comparison website that had advertised an unrealistic rate to get my contact information. After multiple rounds of phone tag with the broker, the gathering and sharing of documents and much paperwork, it seemed that I was finally pre-approved for a competitive rate.
By then, I had found my property and was working with a realtor that had been recommended by my best friend. I was finally able to make an offer and felt that I was close to the end of this complicated, fragmented and frankly, exhausting process.
My biggest surprise came at the very end, when I went to sign my mortgage.While the name of the financial institution offering the best rate to my mortgage broker had been informed to me, I thought this was a mere formality and would not have an impact on my life going forward. Boy, was I wrong. Because the rate was given by a credit union with independent branches, I had to visit the branch located in a distant suburb of the city I live in.
This episode easily represents the summary of everything I wanted to avoid when I first started the home buying process:
- I wasted time and money visiting a distant branch during my busy weekday
- I had very little information and no support from a trusted advisorwhen I visited this branch and met with their mortgage specialist
- Other services were pushed on me, like credit cards and car insurance, and felt uncomfortable saying no to them
- I was forced to open a new bank account with the bank I was least likely to ever bank with, who offered the worst online banking experience I had ever seen.
As a consumer who is used to the convenience most industries provide nowadays through the click of a button on my mobile devices, I spent months looking for a half-decent home buying experience before accepting the sad reality that what I had in mind just didn’t exist..
As Napoleon Hill said,
“ Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.”
Today, I’m proud to have co-founded NestReady, a company that is proud to have merged real estate and financing into a seamless experience to address the concerns and wishes of the current home buyer. Home buying is a major life decision that requires support, trust and education along the way, and I’m glad to be able to help mortgage lenders offer this experience when they work with NestReady.
In my next article, I will talk about how and why the end-to-end home buying journey that NestReady created solves the problems that I had faced when I bought my first home.
Note: While this series of articles present my personal experience when buying my first home, the anecdotes described here reflect common behaviours and desires of home buyers all over North America according to research by The National Association of Realtors, Accenture and NestReady.