Habito Plus Review: The all in one home-buying service
What is Habito Plus?
Buying a property can be a stressful and complex time. An estate agent may help you to arrange a viewing and make an offer, but as their client is the seller, they will ultimately be on their side when it comes to negotiation. So, who is on your side when it comes to actually making what is likely to be your largest financial transaction? Online mortgage broker Habito has tried to come up with a solution with Habito Plus. It supports buyers through the process of securing the best price on a property, arranging finance and completing the conveyancing process. The Habito Plus offering provides everything from mortgage broking to valuing the property and getting the deal over the legal line.
How does Habito Plus work?
Habito started life in 2016 as an online mortgage broker. It manages the whole application process virtually rather than requiring a lengthy appointment in a branch or over the phone. Its technology links up with mortgage calculators on most lender’s websites to come up with the best product that is most likely to end with an agreement in principle. Read our independent Habito review to find out more about this aspect of applying for a mortgage. This is just the beginning for the Habito Plus service though. Habito Plus provides an all-round buying service, meaning that once the mortgage application is underway, you will be assisted by its specialist surveying and conveyancing team, provided by law firms including Juno and The Partnership and surveying specialist White Horse.
Habito has a team that will help you decide the best offer and advise on negotiations when the survey comes back on the property you want so you can decide if it is worth it or not. The service will also advise whether you are best getting the popular home buyers survey or more detailed full structural survey.
Once a final offer is agreed, Habito Plus’ conveyancing partners will help arrange all your legal work for you, such as property searches, drawing up the contracts and ultimately getting to the exchange and completion stage when you legally own the property. Users must complete a Habito Plus questionnaire initially. It starts by asking if you have found a property yet. You don't have to have a specific property in mind however and there is nothing stopping you getting a mortgage in principle in place. This ensures you have the finance in place while you look for the most suitable property to buy. You are then asked if the property is in or likely to be in England and Wales as Habito only works in these two countries. The remaining questions ask whether you have a solicitor in place and if you will need a property survey. If you have said yes to these questions the system will still say it is worth checking if Plus can save you money, if you say no then it suggests Plus will be perfect for you and you are directed to start the mortgage application process.
Who is eligible for Habito Plus?
Habito provides advice on all types of mortgages but Habito Plus is only available for purchase customers, so you won’t be able to use it for a remortgage. Properties must be purchased in England and Wales and you can’t use Habito Plus if you intend to use government schemes such as Help to Buy or if you are purchasing a new build. Buyers must also use Habito’s brokerage to arrange their mortgage.
How much does Habito Plus cost?
The cost of using Habito Plus depends on the value of the property but fees start at £2,000 and the average is £2,400. There is an initial fee of £999, payable once a mortgage application has been submitted. The rest of the package includes a property survey, worth £400 to £1,500, conveyancing and legal work worth £1,400 to £2,200 as well as ongoing support including help with negotiating the final price. If anything goes wrong, Habito says you can use the initial £999 fee towards the next property purchase.
For a speedier purchase, the broker also offers Habito Go, a service that provides you with an advance and essentially makes you a cash buyer. Being a cash buyer can make you more attractive to a seller and should result in your purchase going through faster. The fee for this starts at 1.95 per cent of the mortgage amount. Read our full independent review of Habito Go.
Habito plus pros and cons
Habito doesn’t have any branches so you are not reliant on opening times or set hours to contact its advisers. It has a 24/7 chatbot and a call centre that operates from 9am to 9pm. You can make your application for a mortgage and sign up to the Plus service at your own convenience online from wherever you are in England and Wales.
It can be a hassle finding surveyors to value a property and a conveyancer for the legal side, so having a service that does it all in one place is convenient and should ease some of the administrative burdens of a house purchase. You also get an extra level of support as the service will help with negotiation if the survey comes back with a lower value. It may also be possible to get an estate agent to advise on negotiating a new value but remember they are hoping to get paid by the seller so they are more likely to have their interests, and the hope of a higher commission, in mind.
- Not for all types of buyers
- Tied to Habito’s mortgage broking
- Above-average prices
You can’t use Habito Plus if you are purchasing with a government scheme or buying a new build property. This may exclude some first-time buyers attracted to Help to Buy or new builds that can be cheaper. The service is also only available in England and Wales, so buyers in Scotland and Northern Ireland can’t use it.
Habito Plus is an all-or-nothing service so you can only access it by using its mortgage broking service. Habito does provide plenty of choice, searching 90 lenders but it only deals with those who work with brokers. It also can’t help those with debt issues or if you have been bankrupt, so it may not be best for more complex cases.
The whole service is managed online, which is probably fine for most buyers but there may be some who are uncomfortable with scanning and uploading documents.
Additionally, you may be paying a bit extra for the convenience of having the surveying and legal services in one place. Habito’s average charges are £2,400 but it may work out cheaper if you arrange everything separately. There is a £999 fee once an application is sent, this helps secure the buying support service but there would be no charge – other than any lender fees - if you were to just use the broking service. The average conveyancing cost when buying a home is £1,040, according to comparison website Compare My Move but Habito Plus says its conveyancing is worth £1,400 to £2,200. The Money Advice Service says a HomeBuyer survey typically starts at £400 and a full structural survey at £600 but Habito Plus says its range is £400 to £1,500.
Habito plus alternatives
Some lenders may offer free conveyancing as part of a mortgage. You could also get a free valuation, although these are typically just basic inspections that confirm the price rather than examinations of the property condition.
There are also home buying services such as The Buying Solution and Garrington Property Finders that help find a property for you based on your budget and will oversee the conveyancing and legal work. These tend to be more suitable for high-net worth buyers who are seeking off-market properties.
There is also plenty of free online support. You can use comparison websites such as Reallymoving or Compare My Move to assess conveyancing quotes. The HomeOwners Alliance provides buying guides and a comparison service for surveyors, while property website TheAdvisory has a tool called PropCast that lets you enter the postcode where you are buying to see how well properties are selling, so you can see how likely a seller is to accept your offer.
Summary - Is Habito Plus worth it?
A seller holds a lot of the cards in a property transaction. They ultimately decide the selling price of the property and what they will accept, plus, they have an estate agent on their side to represent them.
A buyer is technically going up against these two parties to secure what could be their dream home. This makes having a service like Habito Plus, that provides negotiating advice, valuation and legal support in one place, both comforting and convenient.
The question is can you put a price on convenience? You may be able to save some money shopping around and doing each aspect separately but if you are pressed for time then any potential additional fees could be a price worth paying.
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