In our Face of the Week section this week, we are featuring ‘faces’ of two Aucklanders—Prashant Trivedi and Santhan Kusum, developers of a website that will help the first-home buyers save a lot of money.
Prashant, an African-born New Zealander of Indian-origin, moved to New Zealand in 2001. With family’s root in India’s Gujarat, Prashant says he connected to his Indian roots right from his childhood, and a visit to family in Mumbai, New Delhi, and Ahmedabad is a must whenever he visits India.
He graduated from the University of Auckland with double degrees in Computer Science and Finance before he started working in the technology section at a large bank.
And that is where he met Santhan.
Born and brought up in Hyderabad, India, Santhan moved to New Zealand’s West Auckland with his family at the age of 10 in 2003. Joint Secretary of New Zealand Telugu Association, Santhan stays in touch with his Indian roots by actively participating in community activities.
He graduated with a degree in Software Engineering from the University of Auckland and started working at the bank with Prasanth.
Their new venture Mortgage Hub is gaining quite an attention of those struggling to get the best loan rates while buying a house in New Zealand. In a conversation with the Kiwi-Indian duo, Indian Weekender found out more. Here are the excerpts from the interview.
IWK: What is Mortgage Hub?
Prashant Trivedi: Mortgage Hub is a mortgage education and comparison website where users can compare the best mortgage rates in New Zealand and connect with some of the best mortgage advisers in the country. The aim of Mortgage Hub is to empower New Zealanders to make sound financial decisions.
IWK: How did you two come up with this idea?
PT: While working at the bank, we realised that the mortgage process still feels like a decade old. Also, there was massive information asymmetry, which meant that everyday borrowers were not educated on mortgages or the best rates available, resulting in them getting a deal that was less than ideal and ultimately losing money.
Santhan Kusum: We thought we could try building something that could be an easy-to-use platform to educate people and make comparing mortgage rates easy while saving their time, stress, and money.
We are also first-home buyers, so we have had first-hand experience going through this process, and we understand the pain points well. We have learnt a lot through our journey, and we want to ensure that no other homebuyer makes the same mistakes we made.
IWK: Do you think this kind of service was long overdue considering today’s fast-developing technology?
SK: Definitely. We can see in other parts of the world that financial comparison sites are the norm. With such a tough housing market in New Zealand, something such as the Mortgage Hub was long overdue. In saying this, there are many areas of the mortgage process that are still inefficient to the banks, advisers and the borrowers. We are hoping we can bring some innovation to this industry.
PT: When people are looking to buy a house or obtain a mortgage, there are so many different sources of information that it isn’t easy to understand it all. We hope Mortgage Hub can be a single place for homebuyers to do their own personal research. By making information more accessible and understandable, people can make more informed financial decisions.
IWK: How does this calculator work, and how can users ensure its accuracy?
PT: We pull the advertised rates from the leading banks and lenders in New Zealand, which are displayed on our comparison page. Users can then use the calculator to see how different loan amounts and terms will affect the estimate repayments they will need to make.
We have also built a great affordability calculator that collects a few pieces of information, and then calculates how much you might be able to borrow.
It also provides some customised tips, such as whether you are eligible for a KiwiSaver grant, or how your mortgage repayments will compare to your existing rent/accommodation expenses.
SK: We regularly update our rates. However, there may be short periods where the rates may not be updated, especially when banks have just changed their rates. We are automating this, so the rates will always be up to date. Our calculators use standard financial formulae, similar to what the banks use.
IWK: What is your opinion about the current housing scenario, and what, according to you, could be a quick solution to the ‘housing-crisis’ of Auckland?
PT: It’s difficult to make a general statement about the current housing situation. It is definitely difficult for first-home buyers, especially in Auckland where house prices are at a record high.
I think the only quick fix solution is for people to change their mindset about housing. In all super cities around the world, apartment living is the norm, and it has several benefits compared to a standalone house. If people want to stay in Auckland but are struggling to find an affordable house, then they have to consider apartments as the more affordable option.
Otherwise, there are great cities around New Zealand that still offer relatively affordable house prices with a high standard of living, such as Wellington, Christchurch, and Tauranga.
IWK: What other services your website plans to offers in future?
SK: Our plan is to branch out from mortgages and disrupt the financial services industry by developing innovative digital solutions in other space.
We are currently building credit card and savings account comparison for students, hoping to go live in time for the school and university year. Students are at a fragile time in their lives, where the right financial choices can have great benefits in their future, so we hope this can be of use to them when choosing their first credit card or looking at the best tertiary savings accounts.
We will also continue to build various tools to help homebuyers. We are always excited for suggestions from our users. If you have any ideas, feel free to get in touch.
Visit https://www.mortgagehub.co.nz/ for more information about how you can save your money while getting a loan.