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Who is Mortgage Mates?

Who are we, what do we do and why are we here?

Mortgage Mates is like a dating app for home ownership. We match you with other users who have the same housing needs as you, enabling you to co-buy your home.

This is our first post using the Mortgage Mates blog. We have developed this space to enable us (your Mortgage Mates co-founders) to let you know more about who we are, what we do and why we are here. We hope to keep this blog active with information on how the website works, why we set it up and what our impact may be on the Australian Housing Market. The below is a little bit more about the website, and us, and we will be following this shortly with our first ‘original’ blog!

Mortgage Mates is like a dating app but for home ownership, matching you with individuals with the same housing preferences, i.e. location, cost and property type. Mortgage Mates is a revolutionary website for the Australian housing market, assisting you to enter the property market in half the time. It will allow you to choose the security of home ownership over rental properties and share houses. 

Using a unique algorithm Mortgage Mates matches you to other like-minded individuals to search for, apply for and purchase housing together. By matching with another user who shares your housing aspirations you can afford to purchase a home to live in, land to build on or an investment property with less financial risks and increased legal protection.

Daisy Ashworth – Co-Founder

Throughout her 12 years experience working within the legal, housing and welfare space Daisy began to identify a growing gap in the market leading to individuals finding themselves without a roof over their head. She noticed that younger generations were simply being priced out of the housing market, with no opportunity to purchase their own home and enter a competitive housing market. It was through this experience she developed the idea of connecting individuals together to allow them the opportunity to co-own a property.

Jess Vesely – Co-Founder

In 2017, Daisy and Jess crossed paths while working in the humanitarian sector and the idea for Mortgage Mates came to life. Jess has worked in the community development and humanitarian space for 5 years, working in Nepal post earthquakes providing strategic support and has since worked in strategy and program development in the youth and community development space. Jess has provided strategic direction and knowledge on the demographics of users, clarifying the importance of the sharing culture we live in today and a partnership began to form.

Since then we have worked alongside an engineering and software team to develop Mortgage Mates into what it is today – a space to connect with like-minded individuals to purchase a home, investment property or buy land to build on. 

“Through the use of innovative technological solutions, Mortgage Mates will disrupt the house market, providing all Australians the opportunity to own their own home.”Daisy Ashworth & Jess Vesely, Mortgage Mates

Considerations of Co-Ownership

Buying a home may be one of the biggest financial (and personal!) decisions of your life. It can set you up for the future but also shapes your future. We therefore understand how important it is to make an informed decision when purchasing a house, particularly when entering into the property market through an un-traditional means like Mortgage Mates.

While we have previously spoken about the number of benefits to co-owning a home, we also want to talk through some things to consider…

  1. Type of agreement and liability

The first consideration is establishing which form of co-ownership works for you. For our Mates, when we talk about co-ownership we are talking about Tenants in Common. This allows two or more people shared ownership rights in the same property or piece of land. In this arrangement, each owner or “mate” may control an equal or different percentage of the total property – i.e. you could spilt the property 50/50 or 30/30/40 or any number of ways. This percentage, however, is defined shares that must be agreed upon prior to sale and each owner can dispose of these shares as they wish. This is agreed upon prior to the sale of the property and will be outlined in your Co-Ownership agreement.

We 100%, completely, very strongly recommend putting in place a co-ownership agreement. This is a legally binding contract which can be used to specify how you own your home together. It can be used to set out your repayments schedules, which insurances you require to own a home together and even when you would be able to sell the property.

2. Selling the property

The most obvious concern for our Mates comes at the point of sale of the home. What happens when one co-owner wants to sell but the other doesn’t want to? This should all be clearly defined in your co-ownership agreement and discussed at the beginning of the journey.

Selling and buying a home and the associated move is expensive and disruptive. One of the first conversations our Mates should have, is how long they are planning to own this property for. Is the intention to live in the property for the duration of the ownership and will it be kept on as an investment in the future. By understanding these needs early on you can prevent issues or misunderstandings later on.

Understanding how to sell a proportion of a home in the future is also something to consider as part of your agreement. Will you enable your Mate be offered first refusal if and when one of you decides to sell and if not, which platforms can you use to sell a part of a property? There are lots of options out there- but knowing which you will use from the beginning will alleviate any concerns this may cause.

3. Mortgage repayments

Understanding your financial liability as co-owner is extremely important. Buying as Tenants in Common will mean you are jointly and severally liable for the debt on the property. To mitigate this risk, you may request in the co-ownership agreement to have income protection insurance as part of your financial packages, or that a savings amount for a number of months mortgage payments are kept in a joint account. This will enable both Mates a level of relief if one or both owners are out of work for a period of time.

Being honest and open from the beginning about what you are looking for and about your hopes for the future, will ensure you have a smooth relationship with your Mate. Asking the hard questions, such as what if I find a partner, or what if I want to start my own business from the property- will ensure you can both plan for the future whilst creating your first home.

4. Maintenance and bills

When co-owning a home together (either to co-live or co-invest), it is important to consider the every day activities as well as the start of the home ownership journey. This means that whilst it is important making the right choice for your mortgage, it is equally as important to understand how bills will be paid and who will complete any maintenance requests.

These questions will vary based on whether the house is an investment home or a co-live property. For example, if you are buying as part of an investment property, you may decide to put the responsibility of bills and maintenance with the Real Estate agent. This enables you and your co-owner to place the management of the property with a third party and simply receive your return on investment moving forward.

However, if you are co-living together, it is worth discussing the inclusion of this information in the co-ownership agreement. You may decide to pay a set amount in addition to the mortgage, to cover any costs in the property. You may also agree to pay for a maintenance person to manage any repairs on the property, so it is clear from the outset that this will be the process. If you are detailed focused, you may agree to do three quotes per repair before committing to a tradesperson to manage the process moving forward.

If you want to split the bills as part of a co-living arrangement, there are apps and companies who can assist you to manage these effectively.

5. Renting out the property

The decision to rent out the property can apply both in the beginning, if co-owning as an investment property or, in the future, when buying as a co-living property.

It is important to know how and when you want to rent a property out when you start your co-ownership journey. It is one of the ‘motivators’ now available on our website and allows you to determine, very quickly, whether your matches have the same housing needs as you.

Mortgage Mates enables both parties to live in the home, one person to live in the home alongside an investor, or for both people to own as an investment. Depending on the needs of both co-owners you will need to dertmine and log in the co-ownership contract whether it will it be a traditional rental property and if so, will it be rented via a real estate agent, or will it be a temporary rental via an Airbnb style website? If it is the latter, will this option be managed by the investors or a real estate agent, and how often will it need to be rented to ensure it meets any financial requirements?

If you and your Mate buy to co-live at first, you may end up moving out of the property and considering owning this home as an investment property. This means you continue to gain equity and build wealth, whilst also going on to live in your first solo home.

Again we suggest having these conversations early on with your Mate, perhaps agree on a five year plan, one which talks about how you co-live, and then how you hold the property after this, perhaps renting out for a further five years and then selling the house to raise funds for the forever home.

There is no right answer to how you chose to take your journey – but having clear steps, starting the conversation early and being upfront will definitely make it easier to manage long term!

Our ‘year’ in review, and thank you.

As we patiently edge ever closer to 2021 and what is hopefully a happier, healthier year for many of us (whilst keeping all fingers crossed and putting no pressure on 2021 to deliver so we don’t scare it off!) It is the perfect time for us to sit back and reflect on what has been a challenging but exciting year for Mortgage Mates and both its co-founders.

Winding the clock back to the end of June 2019 (so slightly over the year in review), an idea that started as a chat over a pint at the pub between two Mates, came to life. Version one of the website launched and we worked incredibly hard to take the finished product into reality. As a focus point for us, we wanted to start developing relationships with providers that we believed could join us in providing affordable housing to everyday Australians. We spent the first six months meeting with amazing companies in the real estate, finance and legal sectors- pulling together a group of specialist agencies that can provide a unique service to our Mates as they start their home ownership journey.

We have started writing blog posts with a focus on our third parties and why they are on our journey with us. These will continue through 2021 and will hopefully share which of our ‘motivators’ the third party links into and why we have chosen them. More on our motivators later on…

Selling Mortgage Mates as an idea is always an interesting conversation to begin with. ‘So you match people to own a house…’? ‘Isn’t that risky?’ ‘Are you like the Tinder of home ownership?’ But at the end of the conversation Jess and I usually walk away with another ‘Mate’ under our belt- not because we are amazing at sales, but because the benefits of ‘buying with a stranger’ often speak for themselves. As we always say, ‘five years ago, would you have gotten into a car with a stranger? Stayed in a strangers house? Fallen in love with a stranger?’ probably not, but those things are now an every day occurrences and Mortgage Mates is the future of the sharing culture.

We were very lucky that Mortgage Mates was well received across all elements of the housing industry, with write up reviews and news articles by Peak bodies in WA, local community news papers and by Real Estate industry expert magazines. We were also lucky to be selected for a number of pitching events, including Pitch@Palace which saw us trek between Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne to be shortlisted for the final.

As we entered 2020, Jess and I anticipated our growth with live expo’s, increasing monthly users and ultimately Mates buying into home ownership. We were looking at expanding the Mortgage Mates brand into a global setting and running a platform that genuinely impacted affordable housing in Australia and world wild.

Whilst spending the first six months post launch with a focus on third parties was a risky strategy, (as every business knows that the most important people are your customers), we knew it was the right process for us. The importance of providing a quality and genuine experience was paramount, and after all what could be around the corner that would slow down our 2020 vision….

Co-living with a Mate.

The concept of co-living has been around for a number of years, providing often short term, low cost accomodation as a housing option.

Previously known as share houses or houses of multiple occupation, having a resurgence, living together is now existing under the brand of co-living.

‘Coliving is much more than a student flat or a university hall of residence. It’s a new concept of communal living popular with millennials who live and work on their businesses under the same roof. Residents can network and establish synergies to help them with their business projects’. (https://www.kpcw.org/post/co-ownership-housing-company-comes-park-city-residents-express-concerns#stream/0)

Below we share the story of a group of friends in New Zealand who decided to purchase a property together and co-live as a community whilst raising capital and equity.

We see the use of Mortgage Mates as a way to make co-living more permanent, benefiting from the social aspect of living with others with the financial security of owning a home and creating long term wealth.

Co-investing. How Mortgage Mates investors can have social and financial wins in the housing affordability space.

Mortgage Mates has been created to enable the co-ownership of property for both ‘live in’ options similar to co-living, and co-investing, meaning two or more people own the property, but only one part of the syndicate lives in the home and pays rent, or none of the co-owners live in the home and the property is tenanted out.

The benefits to both co-living and co-investing are varied and have been touched upon in previous blog posts. This post is going to focus on how co-investing can not only benefit the investor (much like a traditional investment), but also the community too.

Mortgage Mates is passionate about increasing housing affordability, and we cherish the ability to enable individuals to own their own home, earlier, and at less cost than would have been possible if they hadn’t co-owned with a Mate.

Unfortunately, we know that even if people buy with two, three or four other owners, for some, owning a property at the moment is simply unaffordable, and we want to ensure these individuals can still be supported into affordable housing by Mates and users of our website.

How does Mortgage Mates work for you? Part one- ageing in place.

Mortgage Mates has been developed to support individuals priced out of the property market to own their own home. As an organisation, we believe every person should have the ability to live in a location they like, close to community, connection and support options as needed by them.

We know that the fastest demographic into homelessness in Australia is older adults, and in particular, older women over the age of 55. We believe co-ownership can be a mechanism to reduce this, from a direct ownership perspective.

The reason for individuals entering homelessness in this demographic can be varied, but common themes are that there has been a relationship breakdown in the family due to divorce or the loss of a partner, financial issues have impacted the family, Family and Domestic Violence and, or a loss of employment.

We know if a person fails to own earlier in life, they are likely to be ‘severely impoverished’ in retirement, and currently 57% of individuals rely on government payments or pensions as their primary source of income once they have retired.

The ability to independently manage accommodation on a low income is significantly reduced and currently 1 in 6 individuals presenting as homeless are aged over 55.

By enabling home ownership through co-ownership in this cohort we can have a number of positive outcomes for individuals as we enable people to gracefully, safely and securely age in place as they move towards retirement and or experiencing their later life.

Co-ownership manual extract.

Mortgage Mates is launching our new co-ownership manual today. If you are interested in learning more, below is an extract of the manual, which you can request full copy of at support@mortgagemates.com.au!

INTRODUCTION

Welcome

Welcome to Mortgage Mates!

Mortgage Mates is the “tinder” of home ownership, matching you with individuals with the same housing preferences, i.e. location, cost and property type. Mortgage Mates is a revolutionary website for the Australian housing market, assisting you to enter the property market in half the time. It will allow you to choose the security of home ownership over rental properties and share houses.

Using a unique algorithm Mortgage Mates matches you to other like-minded individuals to search for, apply for and purchase housing together. By matching with another user who shares your housing aspirations you can afford to purchase a home to live in, land to build on or an investment property with less financial risks and increased legal protection.

We have created a Co-Ownership Manual to provide you with tips and tricks to help you on your co-ownership journey. While we have endeavoured to provide you the most up to date information, please note this manual is only a guide and proper legal, financial and real estate advice should always be sought prior to making decisions.

Thank you for jumping on board this new and exciting approach to home ownership in Australia!

Jess + Daisy

Now is the perfect time to buy!

Coming through a pandemic, it might seem unlikely that now is the right time to be buying a home. But research is showing, that for individuals, the economy and community, now could be the perfect time to buy a home, build more housing and invest in our futures.

For those of us who have remained in employment and are likely to have stable employment moving forward, there are some compelling reasons as to why now, might be the best time to buy.

Firstly, the cost of housing in some major cities is reducing, and whilst the reduction has not been significant, it is still of benefit to individuals looking to take their first steps into the property market. For example, Melbourne, a severely unaffordable market for home ownership, saw a reduction of 0.5 percent in early May.

With reduced housing cost, comes increased housing affordability. Realestate.com.au highlights in this in their piece ‘Five reasons why first-home buyers should buy right now despite COVID-19’. They believe there are five reasons why buying a home during a pandemic, is a good idea, and it seems like first time buyers are listening. The Urban Developer states that during the start of 2020 ‘first home buyers have remained active, edging up to capture a 32 per cent share of the lending market, the highest proportion since November 2009.’

With the risk associated with buying in the current market, investors have all but cancelled their interest in home ownership, at least in the short term. Again, this is substantiated by the Urban Developer who states that ‘investor lending dropped 1.3 per cent during the March quarter compared to the December quarter’ although this is still higher than the same figure last year.

Any decrease in activity in the current market, however small, means that sellers, who may themselves be impacted financially due to the pandemic, may be more open to offers from first time buyers.

Mozo.com.au explains what this actually means for first time buyers… ‘Prices may come down more and with less competition at open inspections, first homebuyers might have a chance to buy into a suburb that a few months ago they may have thought was out of reach,”. This is important, as research conducted by Mortgage Mates, has found that buying in the right location, is often of significant importance for homebuyers.

Interest rates are also at all time lows, which, combined with a lenders demands to fund, may mean there are increased opportunities for first time buyers and lower income earners to seek a good deal. It also means that by entering the property market, the cost of housing may be less than remaining in the rental market.

Realestate.com.au quotes CoreLogic, stating ‘that … more than a third of Australian properties had estimated mortgage repayments less than local weekly rents.’

An additional benefit for first time buyers in the current climate, is that they still have accessibility to government initiatives.

Realestate.com.au states ‘Each state and territory government has its own version of the First Home Owner Grant (and exemptions to stamp duty) which can be found by visiting firsthome.gov.au. On January 1 this year, the Federal government kickstarted its First Home Loan Deposit Scheme, which assists eligible first-home buyers to get onto the property ladder with a deposit as low as 5 per cent. In the wake of coronavirus, the government has extended the 90-day time frame for finding a home to 180 days.’

Choosing to enter the market, not only positively impacts the individuals buying the home, but also helps contribute to an employment market which could help support the economy moving out of Covid-19.

With housing, comes construction, architecture, painting and decorating, interior design, landscaping and many other forms of employment. By increasing affordability, we can increase the number of properties built and completed, and therefor the number of people supported through employment in these varying areas.

AHURI states ‘Investing in housing construction is a key post-pandemic economic strategy to both boost jobs and to provide infrastructure that benefits a great number of Australians. This can include both increasing funding for supply of public and social housing dwellings, and providing shared equity finance for lower to mid income households to buy and build new homes.’

Mozo supports this view point saying “Real Estate is a big rock of economics, so governments use it to stimulate growth as the spin off jobs are so huge,” says Saggers. “Think furniture sales shops, electronics, household goods, electricians, plumbers, roads and infrastructure to new areas. All link to the sale of property.”

In addition to the above the private rental market in some cities is at an all time low for available accommodation- meaning the ability to locate and secure a private rental is even harder than usual. Prospective tenants are competing against multiple other applications and are often require rental payments above market value. Tenants are actually paying their landlords more money for a short term housing option than they would be for a mortgage on their own home.

For those who are currently a step or two away from owning their own home, there are still things that can be done to improve their home ownership journey.

By signing up to a co-ownership website like Mortgage Mates, it is possible for you to sign up to and create a profile which matches you to another individual looking to own a property in the future. By taking these steps now, you can start the process into co-ownership without having to outlay finance in the first instance.

Co-ownership can be a short or long term step into owning a home, but by taking the first step now, it can stop you feeling like the market is moving further away from you- as you are moving forward at the same time.
 

Version 2.0 is coming!

Mortgage Mates launched in 2019 and since then we have be listening closely to what has worked, what hasn’t and where we can improve. We have asked many of you for feedback, have sought feedback through mentors and investors, and we have taken this all on board to be bigger and better! We are therefore excited to announce…

Mortgage Mates version 2.0 will be launching next week!

So what will be new…?

For those paying close attention you may have already seen a few changes popping up over the last couple of months. We have added a subscription function, added some quotes from our users and changed some of the explanations about how Mortgage Mates works.

Yet through talking to many of you, we agreed that the most important part to get right is the match page. So we went back to the drawing board and re-thought this entire page. From next week this page will be much simpler, streamlined and will provide an overall better experience (we hope!). We will continue to seek feedback and would love to hear your thoughts as you navigate through this new experience!

Looking back to where we’ve started, and how far we’ve come…!

So as we go to launch version 2.0 we can’t help but think about how we’ve continued to grow and develop as a business and team over the last few years. To give you a little insight, here is a few of our first website designs draw with an orange highlighter at the pub!

It is safe to say our developers weren’t overly thrilled with these first drawings but from here we learnt about the online tools and programs needed to complete mock-up drawings and began to draw up something our developers could work with. We have learnt so much and while at times it feels like like we are learning how to build a plane, building it, and flying it, all at the same time – we wouldn’t have it any other way…. well maybe some money because hey bootstrapping is hard!

We have come a long way and want to thank you all for your support over the last few years – particularly to our partners (one of which is our developers!) for our endless bugging and talking about MM. We couldn’t have done it with out you!

So as we look to launch our second version we look back on how far we have come from an idea at a pub. Through hard work, passion and a bloody great team we are one step closer to our M shaped infinity pool! So I’ll leave you with this montage of some of the highlights from the last few years… and join us at the launch of 2.0 to cheers to the next few!

The rollercoaster of 2020…

For those new to Mortgage Mates, we launched our MVP last year to test the idea, seek feedback and learn from others. Since then we’ve been lucky to participate in two pre-accelerator programs, gain insight from our mentors, commence relationships with a number of third parties and pitch to investors. We have been overwhelmed with support over the last 12 months, people have loved the idea and its innovative solution to the housing crisis in Australia and have encouraged us to keep going.

This excitement and support, however, has not been without challenges as it certainly hasn’t been an easy 6 months. With one co-founder living in WA and the other in VIC it has been quite a rollercoaster through this pandemic. We have felt moments of excitement, had virtual opportunities we may never have had without COVID but have certainly felt the downs where motivation has plummeted through the long periods of isolation. Similar to all of you reading, this year has definitely not turned out how we had planned both personally and professionally – one of us was supposed to get married, we both had overseas trips scheduled, we haven’t been able to see our families all year, we had planned a number of trips to work on Mortgage Mates, we had opportunities to do face-to-face networking, pitches and accelerator programs and unfortunately none of this has been able to happen.

But amongst all this we have kept putting one step in front of the other to get Mortgage Mates off the ground. There have been some fantastic highlights including TV and radio appearances and articles in a number of media outlets including The West Australian, and these have continued to re-energise us. While challenging at times, we have kept the momentum going and have some exciting news coming up (watch this space!).

We want to acknowledge that this year has had a different impact on everyone. Many have lost all their income… others have saved more than expected; businesses have been forced to close… new ones have opened but one thing we almost all have in common is that 2020 has turned our lives upside down in one way or another. If you had told us a year ago we’d have 8pm curfews, 1 hour limits outside our home and 5km restrictions it would have been incomprehensible, yet now it is our new normal. One thing, however, that has been remarkable to watch throughout this time is our ability to adapt and think outside the box. Businesses have completely shifted their models from drinks at a bar turning into virtual wine tastings with tiny bottles delivered to your door, painting workshops done via Zoom and 3-course restaurant dinners with the restaurant’s Spotify playlist in your living room.

It has shown us that there are so many different ways of doing things – and while they may not be perfect that can bring a unique excitement and opportunity that we didn’t have before. The flexibility of working from home and many jobs for the first time being offered to candidates in regional areas shows the standard way of having to live near a capital city, working a 9 to 5pm work schedule is no longer the only way.

Don’t get us wrong, we can’t wait to be able to have beers together and for things to be “normal” again but we hope that this year has taught us a few lessons… there is more than one way to do things and while it might not have been how you imagined (buying a house with a stranger for example?) it can bring some new and exciting opportunities. We need to shake up the “norm”, the world can throw spanners that can turn everything upside down almost instantly so cease the moment, take that leap.. (all the clichés!) But if we have learned anything from Mortgage Mates and 2020, it’s that we should do something we’ve always wanted to and never got around to and not be afraid to try something new that might be outside the box…you never know what you might achieve!