The pandemic has caught us by surprise. Among many dire consequences, it has kept us in some way or shape locked down for a year since March 2020.

In the absence of normalcy, many of us have been re-evaluating our lifestyles, rethinking our priorities, goals and the future. The re-evaluation is spurring plenty of life decisions, big and small.

All around us, people are taking the plunge to get married, move houses, have children, or change careers.

While some changes are small and relatively easy to implement, others entail much more effort. Personal finance matters are no stranger to the category of daunting decisions.

Mortgage, the necessary “evil”

By far, the largest financial commitment people make is towards their homes. Most Singaporeans approach their mortgage journey with a sense of dread, associating the process as cumbersome with endless paperwork, jargon, uncertainty, and risk— even if timely decisions can save them money.

Our H1 2021 Consumer Sentiment Study confirms this perception: 50 per cent of Singaporeans indicated that their unfamiliarity with the required paperwork poses a challenge in securing a home loan.

Meanwhile, nearly two in five Singaporeans (39 per cent) are unaware that they can refinance their home loans and secure lower interest rates.

When asked for the reasons for not refinancing their home loans, 45 per cent of Singaporeans felt refinancing their mortgage during their lock-in period is an unwise decision, 34 per cent perceived that a lot of effort is involved in refinancing their mortgages, while 21 per cent cited the need to pay thousands of dollars upfront when refinancing as a drawback. These findings all point to common mortgage refinancing misconceptions amongst home buyers.

Also Read: Sustainability starts at home: How I aim to tackle climate change as PropertyGuru CEO

In short, Singaporeans are leaving their hard-earned money on the table. Such circumstances call for avoidable, costly mistakes – unexpected fees, transparent loan products, missed repayments.

Innovation is our magic potion

Home seekers have their reasons for feeling hesitant and insecure when it comes to home financing.

The excitement of finding one’s dream home is often lost when financing it, especially when the mortgage journey is full of uncertainty, doubt, and inefficiency. The process may cause people to lose their dream home and almost guarantees them of paying more than they should.

The mortgage space has long been held back due to limited innovation. While margins for banks are low, investment requirements are steep. There are also high regulatory standards to comply with for any innovation in the mortgage space.

As such, mortgages have not witnessed the infusion of technology that categories such as retail and travel or even payments have had.

Property owners are often left with inaccurate information about how much they can borrow, while banks don’t always provide service at the speed and simplicity people desire. Buyers thus experience a lot of friction in homeownership, eroding their confidence in the process.

Here’s the thing: Buying and owning a home should not be this difficult.

We believe that everyone deserves a place to call home, and nothing should come between finding that dream house and owning it. Besides making it easier for people to own their homes, we ensure that people are not paying more for their mortgages than they should. We want to make the whole home refinancing journey effortless for property seekers every single day.

Building trust, step by step

Since Day 1, we have been using technology to change the way people find their perfect home. We’re now setting ourselves up to innovate the mortgage market too. That is why we expanded into home finance and created PropertyGuru Finance in 2020.

Also Read: 5 apps to find real estate in Singapore

Our reasons for expanding into mortgage have been simple:

(1) To eliminate it as a barrier in property transactions

(2) To make it a smooth and cost-effective experience for Singaporean homeowners

(3) To offer property seekers, developers, and agents a comprehensive property platform that they can trust.

What this all means is us striving to provide reliable data and secure and consumer-friendly digital processes that enable confident yet faster decisions. In June 2021, we already successfully crossed S$1 billion in loan amounts. This is a massive milestone in our journey of providing financing support for property seekers.

Now, we’re launching SmartRefi: the first significant innovation in mortgages in many years. SmartRefi helps Singaporean homeowners time their decision to refinance for optimal mortgage savings.

After a simple three-minute set-up, SmartRefi automatically tracks all available loan packages, compares them with the user’s mortgage and alerts them when savings can be optimised.

Furthermore, we are investing more than S$1 million in the PropertyGuru Finance #SmartHonestAdvice campaign, our latest and largest brand campaign to date, to bring honest advice to the public.

As part of this campaign across Singapore, you may have seen our vans featuring eye-catching, candid advice that we hope will serve as friendly yet no holds barred reminders.

We’ve also built a team with the best mortgage specialists in Singapore, empowered by our proven property market knowledge and technology to provide intelligent, unbiased, and personalised advice to help home buyers and owners find and apply effortlessly for the best loan for their financial needs.

Meanwhile, real estate agents can access a convenient one-stop-shop for home finance that guarantees them all of the best available home finance options from all banks in Singapore that they can offer to their clients (the property seekers).

Also Read: Ex-PropertyGuru, Carousell execs’ startup Surer nets US$1M to serve insurance firms in Singapore

This is just the start of an exciting chapter for us in helping Singaporeans find and finance and own their homes.

We will continue to invest in developing smart solutions that help Singaporean mortgage seekers make confident decisions that save money. Stay tuned.

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