Driven by the success of sharing economy-platforms such as Uber and Airbnb, two young Australians have launched a website they claim is the “Tinder of home ownership” in order to help more people break into the property market.
Mortgage Mates is an online platform that matches two or more individuals looking to purchase a home, package of land or investment property. These matches are created by an algorithm that considers the users’ property preferences, such as location, deposit amount and property style, for example.
It was developed with first time buyers between the ages of 18 and 39 in mind, drawing on their comfort with the sharing economy, but co-founder Daisy Ashworth has since noted interest from all kinds of parties across the housing market.
“We’ve found it can also appeal to older adults who may be returning to the property market after a family break down or a separation,” she explained, “as well as people within the disability sector who perhaps have very limited options in terms of what homeownership can look like to them, and even people transitioning from social housing.”
Since its lunch in June 2019, Ms Ashworth said there has been an influx of interest for the platform, with membership numbers doubling month on month all around the country.
“We expect the first purchase to come in the next six to 12 months,” she said, explaining that the platform does not rush people to purchase, but rather seeks to have users form genuine connections and understand their financial and legal responsibilities fully before committing to buy.
“We basically call ourselves the Tinder of home ownership: we’re the matching process, and you then go off and have your co-ownership experience independent of [the platform].”
“Just as when you match on Tinder, whether you have a short or long term relationship is ultimately your choice – there’s no long term involvement with the platform,” she said.
Safer than people expect
So to support potential co-owners before they commit to purchase, the platform provides links to third party services such as real estate agents, financial providers and legal information, particularly access to co-ownership agreements.
According to Ms Ashworth, the result of using the platform in this way can actually be safer for users than purchasing with a partner or family member, for example.
“People are always surprised that we say it can be safer, but then we ask: would you sign a co-ownership agreement with your partner? The answer tends to be: no, because we love each other and it’s great and everything’s wonderful.
“The thing is, purchasing a house tends to be ‘great and wonderful’ until everything goes wrong.”
Signing a co-ownership agreement can help avoid such significant issues, while the awareness that you are entering an agreement with a stranger means you are more likely to cover off police checks and assessments of their financial reputation.
In the end, there is no one way to use the platform, Ms Ashworth said. One co-owner may choose to live in the property while the other uses it as an investment, or some may chose to live in the property together.
“It can be a similar lived experience to renting a property with a friend or a room mate,” she said, “with the main difference being that you’ll actually receive the benefit of owning property at the end, rather than just paying someone else’s mortgage.”
In the coming year, Ms Ashworth said she and fellow co-founder Jess Vesely plan to launch an advertising campaign to grow member numbers beyond the organic growth they have already enjoyed.