Here’s my Homewise review. When I was a first time home buyer almost 10 years ago, I shopped around for a mortgage broker and spoke to a big bank’s mortgage specialist for a good mortgage rate. I remember the process being a bit anxiety provoking for me.
When I met the mortgage broker, I felt a bit pressured (pressure I put on myself obviously in my late 20’s because I had trouble saying ‘no’) to choose a mortgage with her since she bought me a coffee when we sat down to discuss mortgage rates. When I met the mortgage specialist, I wasn’t sure I was getting the best mortgage rate. Times have changed in the Fintech era, thankfully, and there are new options when you are shopping around for your mortgage.
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This Homewise review will go over what Homewise is, how it works, and how it makes money. It will review the lenders that Homewise works with, what provinces it is available in, whether it is safe to use, and what the mortgage application process looks like.
What is Homewise?
Homewise was co-founded in 2018 by Jesse Abrams and Carlos Medeiros, and the headquarters is based out of North York, Ontario. Jesse Abrams is the CEO of Homewise and worked a few years in the mortgage industry with one of Canada’s largest banks. He felt the mortgage application process was outdated and cumbersome, and created Homewise to bring the mortgage approval process online.
Homewise calls itself a modern digital mortgage solution. Instead of meeting a mortgage broker for coffee (which is a no no these days in many parts of Canada, someone out of your household bubble) or lining up at a bank to meet a bank mortgage specialist during bank hours, you can get a quote for a mortgage in five minutes.
Instead of feeling powerless to the whims of the mortgage specialist or of a mortgage broker that you meet once and put the next 25 years (more or less) of trust in, the power is put back in your hands because you have the ability to get mortgage quotes online.
This is literally the largest purchase of your life, you will want to make sure you’re getting a good price for it. It’s not like shopping for a 65″ TV that you will replace in a few years when there is a Boxing Day sale.
With Homewise and other digital mortgage options, you have the ability to shop around for the best mortgage from the comfort of your own home (without having the salesperson or broker or mortgage specialist pressure of saying ‘yes or no’ right on the spot).
How Does Homewise Work?
As mentioned in this Homewise review, Homewise basically automates the mortgage process online, and makes the mortgage process faster, transparent, and easier.
Qualifying mortgage applications with Homewise include:
- Getting a pre-approved mortgage
- Getting an approved mortgage
- Refinancing your existing mortgage
- Switching your existing mortgage
How does Homewise work? First, you complete the mortgage application form online. You sign up by email during the process so that they can send you your mortgage approval information. Within 48 hours, they will send you your mortgage approval after liaising for the best rates with the 30+ lenders that Homewise has.
Finally, you are connected with a mortgage advisor to review your mortgage rate and follow up with any questions you may have.
How Does Homewise Make Money?
Homewise is free to use (which is great), so how does Homewise make money?
Homewise makes money when your mortgage closes. They get paid by the lender once your mortgage is finalized.
Homewise takes a lower commission from their lenders so that you can get a better mortgage rate compared to banks and mortgage brokers.
Homewise does not have any brick and mortar stores and is 100% digital, so they pass these savings onto you as the consumer.
Homewise Canada Mortgage Partners
There are 30 mortgage partners consisting of banks and credit unions that Homewise works with.
Some of these Homewise mortgage partners are:
- TD Canada Trust
- Canadian Western Bank
- WealthONE Bank of Canada
- Alterna Savings
- Equitable Bank
- Effort Trust
Is Homewise Safe?
Sending over your sensitive personal information online like pay stubs or Notice of Assessments can feel risky. However, Homewise uses bank level data encryption to make sure that your information is safe. They also state they will never share any of your information with third-party advertising companies.
Homewise also uses Secure Socket Layer technology to protect your information (SSL).
Here is a list from Homewise of the documents you need to have available if you are planning on getting a mortgage, a pre-approval, or refinancing and switching. Some of these documents include the proof of down payment, agreement of purchase of sale, T4s, Photo ID, and Pay Stubs.
Where is Homewise Available?
Currently Homewise is available and licensed in all provinces in Canada with the exception of Quebec.
At the present time, Homewise does co-broker with Quebec and you will be working with a Homewise Canadian partner instead.
Related: Closing costs when Selling your Home in BC
The 5 Minute Mortgage Application
Homewise has the fastest application process in the industry and can easily be done from your phone (you know, after work when the young kids are finally asleep and you have time to browse Realtor.ca uninterrupted).
A Homewise review is not complete without a run through of the application. I was curious whether the application really is five minutes, so I did the Homewise mortgage application and it really was under five minutes.
4:56:75 to be exact!
The questions they asked were pretty standard of mortgage applications that I have done in the past. Homewise asked questions such as where you are currently living, whether you are renting right now or whether you currently own, the estimate amount of assets and liabilities that you have at the current moment, and things like how much of a down payment you have for your home.
You want to make sure you don’t overstretch your shelter budget.
They also ask questions like what type of property you are looking to buy.
Homewise then asks questions like if you currently own a home, and how you will be using the home that you intend to purchase. Of course, the intention that you have for the real estate property changes the rate that you will qualify for.
Then, after you submit all your answers, you will check off a box acknowledging that you have completed the mortgage application process with Homewise, and that your credit will NOT get pulled yet.
You will be set up with a (real person) mortgage advisor to guide you through the process after you submit your answers and they get back to you within 48 hours.
The dedicated Homewise mortgage advisor will follow along with your mortgage application (if it’s for pre-approved mortgage, refinancing, and switching mortgages) all the way to the mortgage closing.
There is also support through a phone call, text, email, and a chat function if you have further questions.
If you’re wondering what factors affect your mortgage application, Homewise shares five of them here.
Homewise Canada Reviews
There are a ton of positive Homewise reviews on Google. In fact, they have more reviews available than Breezeful, a similar digital mortgage platform.
The positive comments mainly focus on the Homewise mortgage advisors taking the time to answer questions and being so responsive even during non-office hours.
Also, a lot of reviewers mention that they got the best mortgage rate or a great rate from Homewise.
- It is free to use
- It is time saving and only takes 5 minutes. You don’t need to make an appointment with the bank or call around to your mortgage broker.
- Homewise is a millennial’s dream- why not get a mortgage rate quote while you are in your pyjamas? It’s efficient and you don’t have to talk to anyone.
- During COVID-19, getting a mortgage quote online is safer than going in person to a bank even if you’re socially distancing
- Homewise has a 4.7/5 rating on Google and has over 98 reviews
- They have a Homewise refer-a-friend program where once you have closed a mortgage through Homewise you will be given a link that you can share with friends, family or colleagues. If they sign up using your link and gets a mortgage using Homewise, you will get a $200 gift card and they will get a $100 gift card.
- You don’t have to get sold mortgage insurance since Homewise is not a big bank
- Transparency on mortgage options: Homewise doesn’t show their available mortgage rates up front, they do have a goal of actually finding their customers the right mortgage (for example, avoiding costly mortgage penalties in the first place because you got the right mortgage for your current life stage/ financial situation)
- Although there are 30 plus lenders available, the mortgage lender list is not exhaustive (e.g. if you had a preference for working with RBC to get a HELOC through them, you can’t)
- If you prefer to see a list of mortgage rates available you are not able to (usually though these mortgage rates are not applicable since they vary province to province and there are other factors that affect the rates)
- If you prefer to see rates right away, using something like Ratehub.ca would be better (however the nuances or ‘what’s the catch’ with those rates may not be completely apparent which may end up wasting your time and money as well if you sign up for those ‘too good to be true’ rates)
My First Time Home Buyer’s Experience
I’m an older millennial, but when I was a first time home buyer (and even when I renewed my mortgage as a single female condo homebuyer), I found the process of meeting a mortgage specialist and talking to a mortgage broker kind of archaic.
I didn’t want to be ‘forced’ to talk to salespeople who are not transparent about the best rate that they can get me.
If I had to do it again right now, I would definitely add a mortgage quote from a free online service like Homewise, so at least I can have different rates to compare. The more information and mortgage quotes you can get, the better, in my opinion.
That way, you’ll know with a ball-park figure whether the rate that your mortgage broker or mortgage specialist is giving you is decent, if you are still planning to go the mortgage broker or mortgage specialist route.
If you’re interested in investing in real estate in Canada without the headache of applying for mortgages, consider addy invest, a real estate Crowdfunding plaform in Canada.
Hope you found this Homewise review helpful.
What is your Homewise review?
How did you get your most recent mortgage?
Did you get a digital mortgage or did you see a mortgage broker or a mortgage specialist at the bank?
GYM is a 30 something millennial interested in achieving financial freedom through disciplined saving, dividend and ETF investing, and living a minimalist lifestyle. Before you go, check out my recommendations page of financial tools I use to save and invest money. Don’t forget to subscribe for blog updates, a free dividend yield spreadsheet, and the free Young Money Bootcamp eCourse.